Saturday, September 7, 2013

Donguri - Why Acorns Make Me Happy

When I went for a walk this week, I noticed that a couple of acorns had fallen onto the sidewalk.  I picked one up and ran my forefinger and thumb along its little round shell, amazed that nature can create something so fabulous. There were just a couple of acorns this week, but this is only the beginning.  Before long, acorns will rain down onto our sidewalks from the majestic oaks that shade them, and in some places they will literally cover the cement walk like a blanket.

I purposefully walk on acorns to feel them under my feet and to hear them crunch.  If I land on them just right with the middle part of my heel, even if I'm wearing my cushioned walking shoes, they make a very satisfying popping sound.  This type of walking makes my gait very irregular.  My walking buddies look at me like I'm out of my mind as I take small steps and then large ones, all measured to gain the most volume from stepping on and popping as many of them as I can.  It leaves a bit of a mess behind, I must admit, but it is a simple pleasure I allow myself to indulge in.

Acorns make me happy.  When I was five or six years old, I used to carry one of Mom's large kitchen bowls into the woods to collect them.  I picked them out from under the leaves where they were hiding and gathered the beautiful smooth brown nuggets by the hundreds.  The first ones plinked into my bowl, and as I found more and more, they made less sound as they were added to the collection.  When a gratifying number had been amassed, I squatted in the woods along the path where I had collected them, and ran my hand through the acorns to feel their smooth hulls.  I scooped them up in my hands from the bowl by the dozens, letting them fall between my fingers back in to the bowl, clanging against the side.  I pretended to cook with them, measuring, stirring, rolling them between my hands.   They were magnificent.  Often, I lugged my collection of nuts home where they lost some of their magic when I had to relinquish the bowl which allowed them to make such beautiful music.

We sang about acorns (donguri) in preschool.  Doguri Koro Koro is a song about an acorn who falls out of a tree and ends up in a puddle. He (it is a little boy acorn wearing a hat) is all alone there in the puddle and troubled, until a little guppy comes along and plays with him.

Donguri koro koro Donguri ko
Oike ni tamatte, saa, taihen!
Dojoo ga dete kite, "Konnichiwa,"
Botchan issho ni asobimashoo!

In a way, I still play with acorns on my walks, and I think they have little friendly personalities.  I seek them out and a smile crosses my lips when I encounter them. I just don't bring them home anymore.

Artwork by Rob Kimmel Design

1 comment:

  1. :) I have similar memories. I made acorn necklaces and bracelets, too. In Korea, there is a small restaurant that makes everything from acorn powder...the dough for dumplings, the noodles, even a rice type dish. We would go after church....The Little Acorn, for more fellowship. Oh, Mebane, we are so blessed, aren't we?