back again to Roundrock

My wife used to complain, half seriously, that I went out to my cabin in my little bit of forest on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks every weekend. Not so! Though the last two weekends I have gone out there, and she’s gone with me.

You see that I’m now burning my undergraduate days. I have a box of old papers in my closet that I had pulled out to find an early short story (written in the days of typewriters), and while I never found it, I did find several old notebooks from my St. Louis life and the college work I did then. Having never looked in these notebooks in more than thirty years, I suspected I didn’t need to know what was in them to continue thriving in my fabulous life, so off to the cabin they went. My original thought was that I could use the individual pages as tinder for fires, but I get such satisfaction from tossing the whole notebook on the flames, that I get the fire roaring by some other means (egg cartons — thanks, Yellowstone!) and then consign the pages to the flames thereafter.

Two weekends ago, our trip involved a return to the acre below the dam where I have been clearing out upstart trees and plants among my pecan plantation. (Pecans have a close appearance to hickories, so the “pecans” I am finding in the tall grass, aligning properly with the grid I had planted them in years ago, are given a reprieve until they leaf out and show their true selves.) I’ve subdued most of the upstarts I can with the loppers, so the remainder are chainsaw work. And that was what I was up to two Sundays ago. But the chain was being balky and I had to adjust the tension on it several times. Finally, it just leapt off the bar as I was cutting a tree. I didn’t lose any fingers or toes or eyes or ears, but I suspect it’s time to get the saw into the shop again for a tune up and look-see.

Just as well since our visit this last weekend included one of the grands: Emmett, who will be four next month! He had come out with us once last fall on a mild, sunny day, and he spent most of his time playing in the gravel with one of his toy trucks. In anticipation of this, he had packed three trucks in his backpack, and while they did some serious delivery work back and forth on the pile, he had also discovered the many marbles I’ve placed in the gravel and it became his job that day to rearrange them, especially the two large shooter marbles that he carried around and rolled on the porch floor and buried and dug up and reluctantly left behind when it was time to leave.

These are not the two marbles he carried about, though he did take note of them. These illustrate a little puzzle I have out at my cabin. When I cast marbles on the gravel, I step on them to press them into the gravel. Yet when I return, several of them rest atop the gravel rather than in it, such as the red one in the photo. Why does this happen? I suppose some critters come along and fool with them; I have found marbles out among the leaves beyond the edge of the gravel. But if that’s what’s happening, the gravel doesn’t appear disturbed, and the marbles are still there.

So I have this hypothesis (or would it be a theory?). I suggest that the earth’s crust is constantly, though imperceptibly, vibrating. I’ve tried to find any confirmation of this, but so far only vague, sciencey stuff that’s way beyond my comprehension. Still, if so, it would seem likely that the gravel, as it is settling, works some of the round objects in it to the surface. (But I’m willing to entertain other explanations.)

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2 Comments on “back again to Roundrock”


  1. Hypothesis. Judging by the soil in my neck of the woods, I’d say it is the freeze/thaw cycle that causes the marbles to move. They are also lighter than gravel so any movement at all will cause them to shift to the top. Also they roll. New firestarter: paper soaked in the oil from last night’s stir fry. Not very portable, but quite effective.

  2. markparis Says:

    Freeze-thaw, plus any disturbance, like rain. They will “float”’up gradually.


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