another day at Roundrock

I could regale you with the unremitting string of rejection letters I’ve received this year, or I could tell you about my trip to the woods last weekend, which is what I’ll do.

My wife and I (and the dogs) made use of the good weather on Saturday and went to our little cabin for the day. I had no agenda for the visit, though I did think in the abstract about maybe taking down another tree to expand the parking area and maybe throw a little gravel around. Neither of those things happened.

Instead, we sat in the sun and listened to the birds. The turkey vultures have returned to soar over the ridge across the lake, but several of them were making low swoops over the water, which I’d never seen before. I suspect it’s a courtship behavior. Occasionally one would pass low over the cabin. We could see its shadow racing across the ground before we saw the bird. I guess it was checking us out since we sat still and lethargic and may have looked like a meal.

Green is just beginning to return to the forest. The tips of the cherry trees are beginning to leaf out, and it won’t be long before the rest of the trees follow, though the hickories will be the last to bring out leaves, just as they are the first to lose them in the fall. The photo above shows one of my red buckeyes near the cabin. It’s leafing out, and many branch tips have nascent flower buds. I think I’m going to get a good display this year.

Sometime during the morning, I broke myself out of my languor and went for a hike. Flike decided to join me, though my wife and Queequeg stayed back at the cabin. We walked across the dam and then down the south spillway. this one passes over bedrock, so it’s not eroded the way the north spillway is (and always has, despite repeated efforts to fix it). From there we diverted up onto the south-facing slop and toward the southeast corner, which is a part of my woods I don’t visit too often. We didn’t go to the corner, but we did visit a spot with a bit of exposed ledge that I thought might make a good spot for a small fire ring. We continued toward the eastern fence just to see what there was to see. Not much, it turned out. My neighbor had maintained a broad open area just beyond my fence that he could drive on, but now it’s growing out with small trees.

I did see this:

That cedar post is suspended there deliberately, though not by me. My guess is that it is a deterrent to the cattle that sometimes graze in this meadow (and sometimes get through the fence and onto my land). The fence is missing its lowest strand here, and certainly a calf could stroll right under while a cow could probably muscle through pretty easily as well. My guess is that by having this substantial object in their line of sight, the cattle turn away from this weak part of the fence, thinking it more than it is. If it works that way, it’s pretty ingenious.

Flike and I continued our walk along the eastern fence and then turned west because I wanted to check on a brush pile I had created with a bunch of willows I had cut out of the pecan grove. (Note, beavers are said to favor willows, and they are welcome to take down as many of mine as they want.) The brush pile was less impressive than I remember, and Flike wasn’t interested anyway, so we dipped into the pecan grove where I cut some locust that shouldn’t be there. It was then that Flike saw my wife and Queequeg up on the dam and took off to visit them. I continued to poke around as I wove my way back to the cabin. Along the way I found this:

I’m pretty sure it’s from the shell of a large turtle, The piece was translucent and as large as my hand, and that would have been maybe only a sixth of the shell covering, so it must have been a big turtle.

When I got back to the cabin, my wife and the dogs were not there. Nor could I see them across the lake. I waited a while, thinking they’d find their way back, but my wife has gotten lost on our 80 acres before, so I began to worry. I decided to head west from the cabin in the direction I thought most likely to find her. I didn’t get far, though, because I heard them coming, and when Flike saw me, he bounded through the scrub to say hello.

The thermometer on the porch said the day had reach 70 degrees, which is nice for early April in my part of the world. But there were things to do back home, and we were soon packing the truck to head there.

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