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Acorns seed stories, legends

Autumn is officially here, so we doff our caps to the acorn.

Acorns appear only on oaks that have been around a while. Thus, the wee fruits have become a symbol of patience.

Various proverbs back that up.

From England, we have, "Great oaks from little acorns grow," meaning big ideas take time, dude, so hold your horses.

A German folk tale has it that a farmer tries to outwit Satan, to whom he has promised his soul. The smart farmer asks for a reprieve until the harvest of his first crop and then plants an acorn, buying himself a long string of years. (By the time an oak is 70 or 80, you'd best walk under it with umbrella drawn. The trees produce acorns by the thousands.)

Talk about a bitter remedy: In the 17th century, habitual drunkards were made to swallow a juice extracted from acorns. It was thought to cure the besotted of their affliction - or give them the moral wherewithal to resist another binge.

From up Norse way, there comes the legend that Thor, the god of thunder, once sought shelter from a thunderstorm by cowering under an oak (note to kiddies: don't try that at home). He was spared, of course, because it's a happy-ending legend.

And thus comes the notion in some homes that plopping an acorn on the windowsill will protect your house from being struck by lightning. That apparently explains the thinking behind the many window-shade pulls that look like acorns.

Acorns for peace: On June 15, 1968, John Lennon and Yoko Ono planted two acorns for peace at the bombed-out Coventry Cathedral in the heart of England. The acorns were planted in east and westerly positions, symbolizing the coming together of John and Yoko, and the union of their two cultures. In 1969, they mailed two acorns apiece - "we are sending you two living sculptures," they wrote in the accompanying letters - to a veritable forest of world leaders, asking that the acorns be planted for peace. The Beatles made verse of it, with this line in "The Ballad of John and Yoko," recorded in 1969: "Caught the early plane back to London//Fifty acorns tied in a sack//The men from the press said, 'we wish you success//It's good to have the both of you back.'"

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