from better to bitter

It’s not all shivering and shoveling around here. In fact, before the recent weather turned from better to bitter, I was actually able to go out to my Ozark cabin on New Year’s Day and stay the night. Thus I brought 2017 in properly. (Sadly, I was unable to make it out to Roundrock even one time for the whole of December. I don’t think that’s unprecedented, but I can’t recall the last time that’s ever happened in the nearly fifteen years I’ve been stomping around those woods.)

Back when Roundrock Journal was still alive, I would make a post each January tallying my visits for the prior year. I keep a calendar on the wall of my little cabin, and I would put a star on the dates I visited, sometimes leaving cryptic one- or two-letter notes on a date that would mean nothing to me at the end of the year.  And so, gentle reader, I’m going to make my 2016 tally here this year.

January – I was able to visit twice, on the 2nd and on the 30th. Likely the cold of winter prevented other visits, and certainly prevented overnight visits, though I think there was a trip to New York around this time too.

February – An overnight! I went down on Saturday, the 20th, and returned on Sunday. We must have had unseasonably warm weather then for me to spend the night in an unheated cabin in the Missouri Ozarks in February. But such weekends sometimes happen around here, and I even feature such unlikely weather in my One-Match Fire story “Boys are like Puppies” when the characters make a warm day trip to the family cabin in a fictitious February.

March – Another overnight, Saturday and Sunday, the 5th and 6th. Again, the weather must have been favorable. And then I returned on the 26th, making a solo trip, as I felt the need to note on the calendar. “Solo” likely included my dog, Flike, but he doesn’t make notes on the calendar, so I can’t be sure.

April – Both an overnight and a solo one at that. But that comprised my total visits to the cabin for the month. No cryptic notes to indicate what I was about then, though there was likely a campfire and perhaps some beer. Maybe even a cigar. Can’t be sure, again.

May – Another mid-month overnight trip — getting some use out of the old bunk beds in the cabin — but not one marked as a solo, so my wife must have been along, as well has her dog and mine. We had also made a trip to Kentucky over the Mother’s Day weekend to see my mother, so my opportunities to visit the cabin were limited.

June – Once again, an overnight, early in the month. No notes about the nature of the visit, but it likely included sawing logs and hiking about. No swimming in the lake is reported either.

July – A late-in-the-month overnight visit, just in time to give the month a tally on the calendar. Again, no swimming in the lake.

August – Not only another overnight weekend early in the month but a single-day visit the very next weekend. I wish I could tell you what I did either visit, other than confirm I did not swim, but the case is closed, I’m afraid.

September – An overnight during the Labor Day weekend, though I did not stay through the Monday holiday. Although I have recorded in past years swimming in the lake as late as October, I did not swim this September.

October – Just one visit, Sunday the 16th. Perhaps I was devoting my weekends to (insufficiently) training for a big run I had coming up the next month. I did run the Kansas City Half Marathon in October, which would have consumed a weekend itself.

November – Only one visit, but it was my traditional Black Friday venture, when I turn my back on the crass consumer culture and enjoy the mild fall days in the woods, soon to be gone. (The mild days, not the woods.) I had ventured to New York earlier in the month for a week for this little run I did then, so two weekends were devoured by that (and I was hobbling around for the week or so afterward).

December – Not a single visit. All of my children and grandchildren were coming for the holidays then, so much of my time was devoted to getting the household ready for them. I recall at least one Saturday when I thought I could have darted down to the cabin for a solo trip, but the guilt was apparently too much.

My wife used to accuse me of going to the cabin “every weekend” (and saying it in such a tone as to imply that was a bad thing). The evidence in recent years contradicts that. I don’t quite feel bitter about this, though I do wish I had more time for visits.

As to the lack of swimming, I remember reading something about a certain algae bloom in the region that was eating people’s brains, and I think that was the deterrent during the few opportunities across the summer when I might have dipped a toe in the lake.


Have you ever heard of synesthesia? It is a conflation of senses that some of us are “afflicted” with. The most common manifestation is the “knowledge” that letters (and words) have an inherent color. I have always known this about letters, and I can recall having a conversation with my older brother about it when we were both children. (I also know the shapes of most sounds.) Some say that this “ability” is how metaphor originally rose in human creativity. The colors I’ve given to the months above are my attempt (with the limited color palette in WordPress) to let you see what color each month’s name is. “October” is a white word, and that wouldn’t have worked on the screen had I painted it that color.

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