Posted tagged ‘Roundrock’

return to Roundrock

September 12, 2022

Libby and I went down to Roundrock on Sunday, mostly because there was a break in the hot weather. We had no agenda for the day, which often results in the best visits.

When I arrived on the cabin porch, I saw this dragonfly resting on the door. I was surprised that it didn’t fly away at my approach, but then I saw that it was caught in a spider’s web. I pulled away a couple of strands of the webbing, and the dragonfly flew away, through the trees toward the lake. So I got a few human decency points for the day.

I did have a vague notion that I might spread some of the gravel from the recently delivered pile onto the parking area. I had covered a big part of it with a tarp a month or two ago to kill the grass growing there. And I’ve heard that if you spread the gravel thick enuf (at least four inches), the grass and scrub won’t grow back (except for this one type of plant that seems to thrive in limestone gravel). But I was doing my best to talk myself out of doing the work because it was, well, work!

I was dithering in the cabin when Libby called me out and said there was some mammal swimming in our lake. It happened that we’d heard a tree crash to the ground moments before, so it was easy to identify the mammal. It was one of our elusive beavers! We had finally seen one in the flesh. It swam for a little while then dove under the water, popping up in a different part of the lake. It did this twice. I suspect it was judging the threat level of the two bipeds up the hill. After that we didn’t see the beaver again, though we did try to convince ourselves that a large sunning turtle was a beaver. Still, it was great to see one live. They’re mostly nocturnal so we were lucky to see one during the day. But it had been nearly a month since I had been out, so I guess the beavers thought they had the place to themselves.

I eventually talked myself into spreading some gravel. I didn’t want to leave the area open to the sun as it was once I removed the tarp. I figured the mostly dead grass would just green up again and laugh at me. So I pulled out what dry stuff I could and then got busy transferring the gravel from the big pile to the exposed parking area. One wheelbarrow load at a time. I dumped 15 loads in the area, and Libby spread them with a steel-toothed rake. Then we had lunch. After lunch I returned to drop and spread four more loads. I estimate that I covered about half of the parking area, and that’s how it’s going to stay for a while because I moved the tarp to the other half of the area. This method of thwarting growth works best during the active growing season, and I’m hoping that I still have some of that. But I think in a couple of months I’ll just remove the tarp from that area and spread the gravel there too. That will pretty much use up my pile, so I’ll need to have more delivered. You see how having an 80-acre forest with a cabin and a lake is just like having a yard in suburbia. There’s always maintenance.

We didn’t have a fire this visit (one-match or otherwise), mostly because those take tending, which restricts what we can do, but also because it had rained heavily overnight. Though the roads were dry, there were robust puddles everywhere. Even so, the lake is down about four feet from full pool. We could use more rain, but there’s nothing in the forecast. Warmer dry weather stretches out as far as my weather app can see.

even if you can’t see it, you know it’s there

August 16, 2022

Back in 2014, as I was walking through my little bit of forest on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks, I saw a bird rise from the ground and flop around as though wounded. I wasn’t fooled. It was a whippoorwill, trying to draw me away from her ground nest. I walked carefully to where I had seen her rise, and I found these two chicks.

I had never heard a whippoorwill until I went to Scout camp as a boy. And then the things seemed to sing their three-note song incessantly through the night. Something about that fixated in me, and to this day, I love the call of the whippoorwill.

Most people will never see one. They are night birds that hunt by flying with their mouths open to catch any insects in their path. But you can still know that they’re there because you will hear their night call in the spring and early summer. Here’s a link if you want to hear one yourself.

In one of my stories, whippoorwills play an important role, not only for their natural existence but because they stand as a metaphor for knowing something exists even if you don’t have direct evidence of it. Someday maybe I can share that story with you.

throwback Thursday ~ a little cabin in the woods

July 28, 2022

Here’s a view of my little cabin in the woods from November of 2009. I’d taken it in extreme zoom from across the lake. This was very soon after it was built. There is no double retaining wall in front of it yet (constructed by yours truly), which was something I did slowly over succeeding seasons to shore up the foundation. You can’t really see it from this shot, but the cabin is perched on the hillside, and I was certain at the time that it would slide into the lake if I didn’t act.

Aside from the lack of a retaining wall, this is still mostly how it looks today. I’ve taken out one or two trees, and the beaver have taken out many others, though they’re mostly on the shoreline.

a recent visit to Roundrock

June 28, 2022

Though the temps have been miserably high for mid-June in my part of the country, last Sunday was much more seasonable, and Libby and I decided to dash down to Roundrock for the day to enjoy our little bit of forest on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks. We passed through a little rain on the way there, so the forest was wet when we drove in (on our nicely solid, recently re-graveled road through the trees). We had talked about maybe having a fire in the ring, but the wet kindling would have made that a challenge, and inertia made it impossible, so we didn’t.

We had no agenda for the day. I wanted to cut the grass below the cabin leading to the lake, since my New York grands will be coming next month, and it’s likely they’ll want to try fishing since we’ve recently pulled some lunkers out of the lake (though I worry that the lunkers may pull my grands into the lake). That involved firing up my cantankerous weed whipper, so I put that off for as long as I could. But the day progressed, and the sun was beginning to peak out of the clouds, which would make the shoreline work hot, so I finally got my gear together and got started. It’s now my policy to buy power tools that are made in America so that I can use English swear words when I’m trying to start them. I aired a lot of English as I tried and tried to get my weed whipper going. It eventually happened, and I made my way down the hill to the lake where I attacked the mix of grasses and scrub. But the engine died a number of times as I worked, and I only got about half of the work done before it died and would not start again. I called it good and retreated to the shade of the cabin porch.

I had put off cutting this grass on previous visits in part because the daisies were blooming there and I didn’t want to mow them down. But I also wanted to cut the grass and scrub as close to July as I could so it would have less time to grow tall again before the grands arrived. About halfway up the hill to the cabin these beauties were blooming, and I’m glad the whipper’s engine gave out before I got to this point.

In my old blog, Roundrock Journal, I used to identify these plants by using several trusty references. But now I just take them as they come. A pretty white flower tower. That seems sufficient.

So we sat in the comfy chairs on the shady porch overlooking the sparkling lake and ate our lunch of salad and cheese and crackers. (We might have had chicken sandwiches if I’d gotten a fire going, but that didn’t happen.) I drank my iced tea (unsweetened, of course). And we watched the lake. A few turtles were surfacing on the water to get a breath of air before diving to the bottom again. A few times a hunting bass created ripples as it struck at an insect on the water. The dragonflies patrolled the surface, eating plenty of mosquitos, I hope. The turkey vultures circled over our south ridge. But the beavers never made an appearance. They’d done more work on their lodge, including packing the sticks with mud, because a nice crop of grass was growing on it.

We did take a hike onto the dam, in part to check on the repaired spillway. It’s in good shape, but it doesn’t look as though we’ve had any rains strong enuf to put it to use. The dam was thick with tall grasses, and we waded about three quarters of the way across, as far as the overflow drain. It was still free of sticks and debris since my last visit when I cleaned it. That also tells me we haven’t had a strong rain in a while. The grass beyond this point was too dense for our tick-avoiding selves, so we turned around and hiked back to the cabin. Even though it wasn’t excessively hot, it was more pleasant in the shade, so we retreated to the porch again.

I’m not sure how long we sat there, but the clouds had begun massing again and I feared a storm was coming (there was a small chance of it in the forecast), so we began packing up to leave. If the storm came, it was after we left, for we drove home in strong sunlight.

I’m not sure what the grands’ schedules are for July, so I don’t know when we’ll all be coming down again, but I think I can probably squeeze one more solo trip down there to tidy up for their visit. Always something to be done in my forest.

bits and pieces

June 16, 2022

Those cool, wet days of spring that I mentioned in a recent post are gone. They’ve been replaced by heat reaching the triple digits in the afternoon and blue skies without a drop of rain in them. We removed two ash trees from our backyard last year, so more sun gets to the area. That’s been good for the grass, but the impatiens in the raised bed around the cypress are in for a scorching summer. I had anticipated this and did what I could to prepare the bed this year. I mixed a lot of peat into the soil before planting. My hope was that it would help retain water so the impatiens wouldn’t dry out as quickly. And once I planted them, I spread mulch around them with the hope it will help cool the soil from the sun and maybe reduce the evaporation from the ground. Just this week I bought a new hose so I could more effectively hand-water them (supplementing the impact sprinkler in the yard). I expect August to be the real test.


That photo above is of a spiderwort that was blooming by my repaired spillway at Roundrock. An added surprise is that green insect crawling on it. Somehow I managed to take a decent picture of it. But here’s a rule of thumb: any time you want to create a breeze, just try taking a photograph of a flower.


And speaking of Roundrock, the lake has been there for nearly as long as we’ve been stomping around that little bit of forest of the edge of the Missouri Ozarks. Probably about fifteen years. We never officially stocked it, though in the early years we did see little fish in the shallows. They were probably delivered as sticky eggs on the feet of wading birds. (We also have a small pond higher up in the lake’s watershed that has some fish, though the journey for a fish from there to the lake would be a long one and would only happen in a huge rainstorm.) For a couple of seasons, we would stop by a friend’s farm on the way down to fish one of his overstocked ponds, taking what few fish we caught in large buckets the rest of the hundred miles to our lake and pouring them in with good wishes.

But in all of that time, we never fished our lake. What swam beneath the surface, we did not know. We swam in it, but didn’t have any encounters. And then the beavers moved in, and we stopped swimming in it. We could occasionally see some fish patrolling the shallow water near the shore if we stood silently and the sun was right and the gods were smiling.

Then, on a whim last visit, Libby said she wanted to try fishing. I had a little bit of tackle tucked into the corner of the cabin, but I think the last time I used it was fishing my friend’s pond a decade ago. I carried the pole (with a reel I had to re-assemble a little and a tiny lure that looked dried out and sad) down the hill before the cabin and tried a cast as Libby was coming down the hill behind me. The reel wasn’t really interested in cooperating, and I don’t think I had enuf weight on the end of the line, so my cast didn’t go more than ten feet from the shore.

And I almost instantly got a hit! It was a fighter, too. Libby was still coming down the hill as I reeled in what turned out to be some kind of sunfish of edible size. (I took a photo of it, but it came out blurry. Sorry.) Well, we weren’t in eating mode, so I wanted to release the fish as soon as I could. I’d had some practice with this when I caught bass during my callow youth, but this sunfish had a much smaller mouth than a bass, so I had some trouble getting the hook out. I did eventually, but I’m pretty sure that poor fish had a sore mouth for a while. Libby was at my side, giving me guidance.

So I cast again, thinking it was purest chance that I got a strike right away. And I got another strike by another big fish. It fought as I reeled it in, and it turned out to be a bass of keeper size if I were a fisherman (rather than a dilettante). I was determined to get a good photo of this one, but the bass jumped off the hook and fell into the dusty grass at my feet, flopping around and perhaps considering great existential questions. I managed to usher it back into the water, and I suppose it had a story to tell just like the sunfish I caught.

Then it was Libby’s turn to cast. On her third try, she got a strike as well! Hers turned out to be another bass, even larger than the one I had pulled in. I managed to get a somewhat decent photo of this beast:

With no scale and no ruler, I can’t tell you how big these bass were, but they were big enuf to fuel my imagination that my old lake is packed with lunkers just waiting for the right gear and patience to find them. (Or not. It is kind of cruel to do this to a fish if you’re not intending on eating it.) In all, we pulled out three keepers on seven casts.

So I think about the grands coming for their annual visit next month. I have enuf old poles that I could affix some static lines with some bobbers and hotdogs for bait that they could fool around with. But if they got a strike at all like the ones Libby and I got, I’m pretty sure the rods would get yanked out of their hands and disappear in the tea-colored water. So I need to think on that.


Not that I’m counting, but so far this year I’ve had six stories accepted by lit mags (and two reprints). One is a story I had written thirteen years ago that got rejected 25 times! That’s a record for me (the six acceptances, but also the 25 rejections). I told Libby the other day that if I had worked as hard at anything else in my life as I have been about my writing ambitions lately, I could probably offer to buy Twitter for $45 billion.


Here’s a bit of my undergraduate years, consigned to the fire:

return to Roundrock

October 12, 2021

The beavers have been busy at my little cabin in the woods. In the time since our last visit (three weeks), they’ve taken down two more trees on the cabin side of the lake, and as you can see in the photo above, they’re moving up the hill closer to the cabin.

They take down trees like these to get to the slender branches and tips, which are edible. They’re stocking their larder for the coming winter, which is fine, especially since I’m pretty sure they don’t think the cabin itself is edible. Years ago, when I planted the buckeyes beside the cabin, I had fenced them with chicken wire to keep the deer from trashing their velvety antlers on them. I hadn’t considered at the time that I might have beavers to deal with too.

The other tree they brought down got hung up in some cedars, so the beaver won’t get to harvest any branches from it, which suggests they’ll just bring down some other tree. I suppose when I return next time, I’ll see which one they’ve chosen.

On this visit I fixed up the weed eater with its blade attachment and attacked the scrubby growth at the waterline below the cabin. I’ve worked hard to keep an open avenue from the front porch down to the lake, and the scrub at the waterline was too thick (woody plants rather than grass) for the whip. Thus the blade. It was easy enuf work once I got going, but when I started I was ready to stop. The ground slopes here, and the sun was out. The blade is good with scrub, but it’s not so good with grass, and there was a mix of both in the waterline area. But I stuck with it, and pretty soon, about a half hour of effort, I had it nicely cleared. Then my wife asked me to cut a path across the dam, which hadn’t been part of my plan, but I try to use up all of the gas in the tank so I don’t leave any in there to foul the engine later. So off to the dam I went, and I managed to get about two-thirds of the way across before the tank went dry. Then I spent some time pulling out vines and sticks from the overflow drain. The lake was down about three feet when we were there, but if it got as much rain yesterday as we did up in suburbia, the drain might have gotten some use. Anyway, it’s always best to clean it when there is an opportunity.

After that we went back to the cabin and got a nice one-match fire going to cook our burgers. The weather was about perfect, though gray clouds were massing and the sun went away. That didn’t affect the taste of the burgers, though. And it was easy to sit in the comfy chairs and listen to the wind in the trees as we ate.

But all of that is more footnote than substance about this visit. Before we got to the cabin, we stopped in the nearby town and visited the hardware store. There I bought myself an entry-level leaf blower. This is the time of the year when crackly dry oak and hickory leaves begin to pile up against the outside of my wooden cabin. This is bad for three reasons: one, they are a fire hazard; two, they can increase mold growth on the siding when they get wet and stay wet; and three, they can provide cover for burrowing animals that might think a den under my cabin is ideal. So in the past I would rake the leaves away and then across the great gravel expanse to the trees beyond. It’s work the must be done, but it’s a chore.

Not so with a leaf blower. I managed to turn a half-hour’s chore into a five-minute frolic. It was so much fun that I did it all a second time before we left that afternoon!

I’d actually gotten the leaf blower for two reasons. My neighbor Craig likes to do controlled burns on parts of his land, and he uses leaf blowers to get the combustibles out of his work zone so his fires don’t spread. He’s visited my cabin a few times and strongly encouraged me to get one since my setting is a potential fire hazard. (Also, probably, I could help him with his work.) The second reason is because the two cypress trees in my suburban backyard are ready to drop hundreds of spherical cones this year. (They’d skipped cone production the last two years.) The hope (my wife’s hope) is that the leaf blower will help us herd these cones so we can collect them easily. The problem is that when they dry and crack apart, the shards are sharp and get into the pads of the dogs feet, causing them to limp and wince. I suspect that the leaf blower isn’t going to make a difference since spheres seem to be the best shape to resist outside forces. The leaf blower didn’t do a thing to the marbles in the gravel around the cabin. I suspect the same will be the case with the cypress spheres, but we shall see.

We made it home to suburbia a few hours before the heavy rains arrived, dropping more than two inches of water. We needed it, but it’s going to be a rainy week and I fear the trail is going to be too muddy — even under water in some places — this weekend for a ride.

Saturday at Roundrock

September 13, 2021

The dogs and I made a dash down to Roundrock over the weekend. It had seemed like a long time since my last visit, and when I checked my journal there it had been nearly a month. This is my least favorite time of the year to go since the heat hasn’t lessened, nor have the chiggers, but everything looks wilted and defeated. Still, I had a window of opportunity, and I took it. (My wife is in St. Louis for a couple of weeks with Small Paul and his family.)

It’s a little hard to tell from the photo above, but the beavers have finished their work on one of the two remaining large trees at the shoreline below the cabin. (The third tree is on the right, but it’s mostly dead, so I don’t think the beavers will be interested in bringing it down.) You can see the gnawed trunk on the left and the rest of the tree fallen into the lake (just what I had hoped would not happen).

Here is what that same tree looked like earlier this summer:

You can also see that the lake is down about a foot. That’s actually not so bad. In past years, by August the lake would be nearly all gone with just a waist-deep puddle collected at the deepest part. We haven’t had that much rain in recent weeks, so I attribute the decent water level to the dam finally sealing all of its leaks. (The builder told me that would probably happen, but I seem to remember him saying it would happen sooner than twenty-ish years.)

So the tree has fallen into the lake. I think the beavers will probably harvest the tender tips and small branches for their den building and to eat in the winter, but that still leaves a whole lotta tree in the water. In terms of wildlife, that’s a good thing. Any structure in a lake provides shelter for the fish. But in terms of fishing (which I haven’t done in years) and swimming (which I may not do again since I’ve read some nasty things about swimming in water that beavers use as their toilet), the tree in the water is a bit of a hazard. But I’m not going to tie it to my truck and haul it out of there. Nor do I hope the water level drops enuf to allow me to cut up some of it with my trusty chainsaw. So there it is, and there it may remain. It’s possible when the lake level rises (when?) that the tree will float away from there (though there’s nowhere else for it that would be any better), but I expect it to get water logged instead and remain there for the rest of my tenure. So there you go.

Aside from examining the beaver depredations, I had no agenda for the visit, and the dogs had even less use for our time there. Flike poked around the cabin a little but mostly just wanted treats. Queequeg attempted to hide under my truck, which is his usual place, but my truck is currently in St. Louis, and he found my wife’s low-slung Honda to be more of a challenge. Instead I opened the car doors and windows, and they jumped in there to spend their time.

What you see above are nascent buckeyes. You may recall that I’ve planted red buckeyes in front of the cabin. They’ve always flowered nicely (sometimes even when we happen to be there), but I’ve missed their fruiting most years. On this visit I counted nine buckeyes, which I think is a record. I don’t know when the husks open and the buckeyes themselves drop, but I’d like to collect a few and maybe try planting them to raise more of the red-flowering understory trees to place around the cabin.

I didn’t stay as long as I might have on a normal visit. The dogs were having none of it. I had no chores I wanted to undertake alone. (I don’t like using the power tools when I don’t have someone to identify my body.) After I ate my banana and apple and rye bread, washed down with iced tea (unsweetened, of course), I packed up and steered the little Honda back on the road to suburbia. I hope to get back down there before another month passes, and I hope some rain falls soon. I might have had a fire if the forest hadn’t been so dry.

bee business

August 16, 2021

I hung this bee nest under the porch roof at my cabin last spring. (Yes, that’s a tiger mask you see on the tree to the right.) I received it as a gift, and not only did I feel virtuous providing a place for solitary bees to lay eggs but I hoped it would help keep the carpenter bees from drilling holes in the side of my wooden cabin to do the same.

Nothing happened for months. Each visit I would check the nest, and each visit would show me nothing. I began to suspect that these nests were made more for the human consumer than the insect.

When I visited the cabin last week, however, I saw this:

Clearly the word has gotten out that the rent-free condos are available. I’m not sure what to make of the bits of grass coming out of the cavities, though I suspect it’s to hinder any hungry predator for getting the larvae in there. The nesting work should be done by October, and then the hatch will begin in the spring.

Apparently, such manufactured bee nests help and hurt bee populations. They do provide nesting sites, but their proximity to each other has been found to foster the spread of parasitic mites and molds. So from what I’ve read, such nests need to be replaced each year. We’ll see how this one works out.

And I guess the carpenter bees don’t want a pre-made hole. They seem to need to make one of their own. I found this fresh violation on the side of the cabin on my last visit.

the NYC grands at Roundrock

July 26, 2021

The NYC grands have been here for the entire month of July, but their social calendars are so busy that we had to find a time in their schedule to go to my cabin. This ended being last Wednesday, so I took off of work and we traveled down there with the promise of a fire, S’mores, and maybe chopping down a tree.

My daughter took the photo above, which is a panoramic of the lake, so it’s a bit distorted and looks larger than it is. (Click to embiggen.) In the foreground on the left you see some of the branches of a fallen tree. This was one of the few trees right up at the lake’s edge that the builder had left (actually a cluster of three trees) when he pushed everything else down to make the basin. It was a nice tree, but it was slowly dying, and I feared that it would fall into the lake, which would make it a lot harder to deal with. But it turns out I didn’t have to deal with that outcome because another builder brought it down on the land instead.

Here is some other, nearby handiwork* of that builder;

The beavers have moved their operations to the cabin side of the lake now. Not sure why since there are plenty of waterside trees near their den. (See the embiggened panoramic above.) And the mostly gnawed-through tree you see here will likely fall into the lake, which won’t be a problem for the beavers, but will make swimming and fishing there more challenging. (I’ve read some recommendations that you don’t really want to swim in a lake beavers use.)

So that was this trip’s surprise, but the grands loved it and the fact that wild animals did the work. We visited and talked about it a couple of times that day. The oldest one, Kenneth, who is six and a half, had been to the cabin once before, but that was more than three years ago. He claimed to still have some memories. The twins, Rett and Evie, had not been before but had been regaled by Kenneth, so they were excited by everything.

The first task of the day, once we unpacked and completed our inspection of the beaver doings, was to build a fire. The grands helped, though Evie didn’t understand why I was tearing pages out of a notebook and crumbling them. Until she did, and then she did so as well. I topped the crumbled pages with an egg carton (thank you for this suggestion, Ellen!) and then began adding sticks on top of that. When I had sufficient kindling in place, it was time to bring out the one match. Kenneth wanted to be the one to light the fire, and he did successfully strike the match, but holding it to the paper was a bit beyond him since he was afraid of getting burned. So I did that part, but he get’s the credit for lighting the day’s one-match fire.

As the fire burned to cooking coals, I got the grands busy with scattering marbles in the gravel around the cabin. I’d been hoarding marbles for a long time in anticipation of this, and when I poured them out with instructions, the grands got to it.

Here you see Evie selecting all of the blue marbles, which I told them I wanted scattered on the west side of the cabin. There is also a gravel bed in front of the cabin that is for only red, yellow, black, and white marbles. These are the colors of the Kenyan flag, and Small Paul, who is half Kenyan, gave me those marbles as a gift. Once the visiting grands understood this, they supplemented that bed with the proper colored marbles too. It was fun and exciting work for them. (Good thing, too, since I expected the gravel pile to really interest them, as it does Emmett, but they took no notice of it.)

When the fire had burned sufficiently, we got started on cooking our burgers and later S’mores. An innovation my daughter introduced was to use Double-Stuffed Oreos in place of Graham crackers for the S’Mores. That’s much too sweet for me, but the reports I received gave them an official thumbs up.

Then it was time to cut down the tree, as I pretty much promised Kenneth we would do. There was one in the place where I park that I wanted to take down and so double the parking area. It was less that a foot in diameter and should have been easy work except for two things. One is that it was leaning toward the cabin, with enuf heavy branches on the cabin side to make it want to fall that direction naturally, regardless of how I cut it. The second problem was that it was a Black Jack oak, which pretty much dulls a sharpened chain maliciously.

Part of the solution was to tie a rope to the tree as high as I could reach and then take that around another nearby tree. Thus my helpers (son-in-law, mostly, though the grands wanted to participate) could pull the rope from around the “corner” of the second tree and help direct its fall while being out of its way.

The other part of the solution was a careful cutting of the wedge and the back cut to help direct the fall. Unfortunately, the tree wasn’t interested in cooperating. I think I should probably have started with a new chain, freshly sharpened, but I didn’t have one. I managed to make my cuts, but the back cut was on the cabin side, and when that was done, the tree began leaning toward the cabin. The back cut wasn’t far enuf through the meet the wedge cut, but the leaning was a problem, even with the gang pulling on the rope. The solution was to put a wedge in the back cut. And I happened to have a nice steel wedge in the cabin that I use for splitting wood. We worked that into the back cut and then took turns slamming it with the sledge hammer to persuade the tree not to fall on the cabin. With a little more very careful cutting with the dull chainsaw and some serious effort with rope pulling, the tree began to fall in the proper direction. And immediately got caught in the branches of another tree. So it was off the stump but still standing (more or less). This was, of course, a dangerous situation, especially with three grands (and three dogs) underfoot. But the whole tree cutting operation was out of order, so why not?

I grabbed the rope and moved into the road so I could pull it more directly in the direction we needed. My SIL pushed on the trunk, and together we managed to drag the base a few feet across the gravel while the top of the tree remained in the embrace of its kindred. But we kept at it, and when we got a rocking motion going, we could see progress.

The tree eventually fell on the gravel pile with a mighty crash, which was about ten feet from its intended destination, but that was still well away from the cabin. Then we gave the grands each a handsaw and they got to work removing branches, that we carried into the woods. The trunk of the tree lay across the parking area (we had moved our cars up the road before this), but the chainsaw had decided it had had enuf. We could start it but couldn’t keep it running. So my SIL and I grabbed the end of the shorn tree and carried it to the side of the parking area as it pivoted on its base.

Then it was time to go home. We packed up, which took more time than normally since so many things were brought out to entertain the grands. We made sure to splash through the stream we have to cross to get to the main road (Kenneth loved this), and by the time we got to the paved road (only two miles from the cabin), the twins were already asleep from their big day. Kenneth followed soon after.

I’m having all five (!) of the chains I have sharpened, and the next time I visit my woods, I’ll cut up the remains of that fallen tree beside the parking area. (Unless the beavers do it for me?)

Here is a recent picture of Small Paul, just because:


*I’m not sure what the equivalent for “handiwork” would be for tooth work.

nothing special

June 28, 2021

Just a couple of round rocks on the retaining wall behind my cabin. When my daughter-in-law first visited here, she saw the random piles of round rocks I had collected and placed some of them atop the retaining wall. Now, of course, they must stay there. Except I generally find at least one that has fallen off the wall. I’m not sure how that can happen. Surely the wind isn’t strong enuf to do that. Critters, maybe? But why?

The New York grands will be here for the entire month of July and I expect we’ll be making a trip to the cabin to burn some burgers and make s’Mores (S’mores?), so there will likely be a lot of rock rearranging and marble scattering then.