Libby and I made a chilly visit to Roundrock this last weekend. I had been watching the weather forecast all week, and with the possibility of a day in the 50s, including ample sun, I knew I wanted to go.
Of course, reality often does not meet expectation.
We deliberately got a later start that morning so the temps could begin their climb (from 18 degrees at dawn). (Also, I put 7 miles on my new running shoes. So far, I love them.) Plus, Roundrock is about 100 miles to the south south east of Kansas City, so there was some hope that it would be a bit warmer in that direction anyway.
All of our warm thoughts and hopes, however, didn’t have much effect. When we reached the Cabin at the End of the Road, the thermometer on the porch reported only 29 degrees. It was even cooler inside the cabin. The sun was being thwarted by the clouds that never really lifted (until we were leaving, of course).
Nonetheless, we got about enjoying our winter woods. February is our customary month to walk the property line. The woods are more open and lines of sight are longer. (Plus, no bugs.) We walk the border merely to see what’s going on with our neighbors and occasionally to cut some low branches or scrub to create a clear and obvious trail.*
Flike and Queequeg had no trouble with the cold or the dense woods. Flike bounded off wherever his manic personality took him, coming back to me with what I’m certain was the dog equivalent of a big smile on his face. He was having a great time in the woods. Queequeg, whom I’ve described as “willful” before, completely disregarded the neighbor’s barbed wire fence — being small enuf to fit right under the lowest strand — and wandered into the neighbor’s property. He rarely came back when Libby called for him, and she eventually resorted to putting him on a leash. You can probably imagine how difficult walking a small dog on a leash is in a forest dense with undergrowth.
But walk we did (except for Flike, who mostly bounded), and we eventually covered half of our southern property line. There was no apparent activity on my neighbor’s side of the fence, but nearly everywhere we looked we saw downed tree tops or branches. The winter storm of recent weeks seemed to have done its job of culling the old and weak to give the next generation of plants a chance at the sunlight.
At that point, we still had a nice, mostly downhill walk back to the cabin where lunch awaited us. (Spinach salad. A bagel. And a sugar cookie.) Since we would be on our own property for a quarter mile in three directions, Libby let Queequeg off his leash, and once he realized where we were going, he started bounding too, getting back to the cabin first.
Lunch was nice, if brisk. We stuck around to set out suet and peanuts for the critters and generally clean up around the cabin. Then we decided to go home. The temperature had “bounded” to 34 degrees, but the sun was hiding. Since there were also chores awaiting us back in faraway suburbia, we decided to climb into the Prolechariot and steer ourselves that direction. A good, if brief, trip to the woods.
*I’ve been cutting that “clear and obvious” trail for more than a decade. And the forest has been filling it back in for just as long. There are some spots along the fence line where it is easy and open for walking, but for the most part, there is no sign of an intended path. Nature always wins.