In April 2014 -- before El Niño was a household word and daily headline -- I did a column about a massive drop of acorns prior to the last big El Niño year of 1997-98.
I detailed how rains impacted our lives in the woods above Saratoga and hit Palo Alto hard with millions of dollars in flooding and damages.
Well, here comes another large one, dubbed a "Godzilla El Niño" by one TV station. In my 2014, column I noted there had been another heavier-than-usual fall of acorns, and I asked how the oak trees seemed to know about upcoming heavy winters.
Well, they don't.
"I've actually gotten that question a lot, that specific question about the acorns," Daniel Swain, a weather specialist based at Stanford University and co-producer of the Weather Blog, said in an interview we did last fall. The blog is available at weatherwest.com, named for his group at Stanford called "Weather West."
"The answer is that the trees don't know, but they are capable of responding to things that have happened in the recent past ... that might cause them to drop more or fewer acorns than usual.
"The trees don't know, but they could still be predicting something," Swain said.
Walter Passmore, Palo Alto's urban forester, linked heavier acorn production to trees that have undergone stress, just as pruning fruit trees increases fruit production.
The acorn question doesn't seem so nutsy considering today's weather news about storm-wracked middle America and the South, drought-stricken California, rapidly melting polar glaciers and coastal areas worldwide witnessing rising sea levels.
"Climate change" is complementing the earlier term "global warming," describing more accurately increased weather volatility, linked to increases in the surface temperature of oceans.
I'm not much one for Chicken Little warnings. But evidence is piling up.
"We've been studying the drought and the role of climate change and all these things," Swain said, including what some have called "the ridiculously resilient ridge" of high pressure that deflects storms from California.
"What caused the drought? It's this ridge," he said. "Then the real science question is, 'Why is this ridge there?' and 'Why has it been there for going on four consecutive years?'"
The lack of rain and warmer temperatures, he said, have "garnered a lot of attention because the last few years in California have been really outside the realm of people's experience. It's very different from what people are used to in a way that it's actually noticeable," even to city dwellers.
"If you're in a city and spend most of your time indoors, or working in an office, you might not really notice what's going on. An interesting dichotomy about this whole drought is that it hasn't been a really taxing event for anybody who lives in the major coastal cities. ... It's actually something that's 'happening elsewhere,' even though meteorologically it's happening everywhere in California."
The most serious impacts have been "confined to places where most people don't live," such as the Central Valley and the Sierra and the Coastal mountains where there is a massive tree mortality, wildfires, flooding and mudslides.
Swain said a side effect of doing the Weather Blog is that he gets emails from around the state with "personal messages and photographs that weave a narrative I certainly wouldn't be getting on my own."
Some are alarming, he noted: "Everybody in the (U.S.) Forest Service I've been talking to is saying that (tree mortality) is much worse than is publicly known at this point" based on overflights showing vast numbers of dead or dying trees.
"But beyond that there are problems with the urban forest, and in a lot of places the urban forest is doing much worse than the native one -- which is what you would expect because the native trees ostensibly have adapted to drought because there have been droughts before.
"The urban trees maybe not. We have redwoods growing along 101 in Silicon Valley, and those are just dying. ... And it's not just the highway medians. It's in people's back yards, and the urban-forest canopy in Northern California is quite extensive.
"Today it's just incredibly stark. We're dealing with things that would not have happened if we hadn't done what we've done with the atmosphere. That's sort of why I got into climate rather than weather. Years ago I thought I was going to be a federal meteorologist doing day-to-day weather forecasts.
"Yet the way the climate is changing and where it's changing the most, and the whole picture on climate change, is something that brings together these really important physical-science questions with these really important cultural and socioeconomic issues. They're really inseparable at this point. When people talk about income inequality and social justice they really should be talking about climate change in the same breath, because all these things are inextricably linked.
"It's one of the big issues of the 21st century," not just because problems climate change causes directly but because of a bigger picture of how to deal with changing technology, concentration of wealth and distribution of natural resources.
Swain will be leaving Stanford this year but will continue the Weather Blog, which has been in existence for a decade. He is planning a series of posts next summer on the latest scientific evidence relating to how California's climate will change in a longer future.
Until then, he hopes El Niño will bring drought relief. Stay tuned, he said.