poke

September 17th, 2014

poke

On my last trip to Roundrock, I dared to venture across the dam (through the tall, tick-laden scrub) to check on the status of the opossum and the copperhead in the overflow drum. (One still dead, the other gone.)

Along the way I saw this lush growth of poke on the side of the dam. Now, a vigilant land owner would have taken the loppers he always carries with him and chopped this stuff to the ground since any growth on the side of the dam is bad since it can shelter burrowing critters, which you don’t really want on your dam.

But a vigilant steward might think otherwise. The poke berries can help feed the birds and other critters through the winter. From what I’ve read, it’s pretty much toxic to humans, though the leaves can be eaten if they are first triple boiled to remove the toxins. Yeah, I’m not going to do that.

Plaza 10K 2014 recap

September 16th, 2014

Plaza kit

I had a great run over the weekend. For the second year in a row, I ran the Plaza 10K. Here is my account from last year. I did even better this year, beating my time by nearly four minutes. It’s a 10K PR for me, which is always nice.

We’ve had a spate of cooler weather around here lately, with nightly lows actually dipping under 40 degrees. That’s just about perfect running weather (as long as it doesn’t rain), but just as I had to get acclimated to the summer heat, I needed to do the same with this cool, and it’s come so fast that I haven’t done that. I watched the weather reports through the week, and Sunday was looking good. Anticipating a chilly start, though, I had Libby scavenge in her basement hoard for a throwaway jacket I could wear in the start corral until I had run far enuf to get the engine warm. Then I could cast the jacket to the side of the road and run like the wind without it. (These cast offs are generally collected by the race organizers and donated to charity.) She found a nice fleece jacket that my son had worn in middle school and, astonishing as it may sound, the thing fit me and was even a bit large. Throwaway jacket achieved.

You see most of my kit in the photo above. I’m still wearing my summer white hat, though it’s getting time to switch to my winter black. Not shown are the compression shirt and shorts I wore as a base layer. I wanted the added warmth they would provide (and hoped I wouldn’t regret them later) as well as the chafing protection (no need to go into detail). You see that I wore my Olathe Running Club shirt. I do that in part to represent the club at these events, but I did it specifically this time since I was to run with the woman in the club who is in charge of the club-branded gear. I figured she would show up with one of the new shirts on and I had better do the best I could with my older version.

I had told Libby that she did not need to be my support crew this time. It’s only a six-mile run, which wasn’t going to destroy me the way a half would, so I could get myself there and back on my own. Plus, our youngest son, Aaron, and his wife, Amber, were moving into their new house over the weekend, and she (and my truck) needed to be available if called. (They weren’t.)

When I rose on Sunday morning (a few minutes before the alarm was to go off) I let Queequeg out the back door and stepped outside myself (with far less on than I would run in later). It was clearly not below 40 degrees, and when I checked the temp online, I found it was actually 53 degrees: perfect! And so I went in and began my ritual/routine of getting ready for a race. Mostly that involved getting dressed very slowly and going over my gear check again and again. I checked for last-minute emails from the race (none), brushed and flossed, fretted, walked about, then left an hour and a half before gun time to make the half-hour drive (in the dark) to the start at the swanky Country Club Plaza District. Since I got there too early to stand around in the cold, I drove the course just to see if there were any surprises. (When I ran my first half marathon, there was a quarter mile stretch where we had to run across freshly chewed up pavement. That was not fun.) There were no surprises, and though I was by no means the first one to arrive, I still got a great parking space close to the start and then sauntered over there to look for my running partner and other friends from the club that I knew would be there.

I wandered for a long time before we met up, and then we stood around in the chill and listened to the usual announcements and such. We saw some familiar faces and chatted aimlessly as we waited. About fifteen minutes before gun time, I told my friend (let’s call her ChrisAnn) that I wanted to do a short warm-up run around the block and that I’d meet her in our pace section of the corral. The trip around the block took me close to where I had parked, and I made the spontaneous decision to throw away my throwaway jacket in my car. It was warm enuf that I didn’t really need it by then, and I would regret losing it unnecessarily, especially with a full marathon coming up next month in Oregon and a half marathon coming up in Kansas in November. Throwaway ditched, I continued around the block and looked for my friend in her Volt yellow jersey (which was not branded with our club name). Eventually, of course, I found her. I should tell you about ChrisAnn. She had run the Plaza 10K last year. We had started out together, but she had lost me in the first quarter mile and I never saw her again. It turned out she had finished something like fifteen minutes before I had. She’d had a head cold then, and she said she had run so fast simply because she wanted the race to be over! This year, she asked me to run with her to pace her. She hadn’t been training much (for various reason) and didn’t want to burn out by running too fast too soon. So would I please run with her and keep her in check? (You see what this means, of course. She needed a slower runner to set the pace for her. Sigh!)

There was so much chatter among the waiting runners around us that the national anthem was nearly over before I heard even a snatch of it. I whipped off my cap, and most of the people around me noticed and did the same or put their hands over their hearts. Soon after this, we heard the starting horn, but as these things go, it was more than five minutes before we people at the back of the pack were even moving forward, much less running. I started my watch, it grabbed some satellites, and we shuffled toward the start. As we crossed the starting mats, I switch on my run counter, and we were off.

I had been talking to myself all week (all summer, all year) about this run. I had been telling myself positive things, confidence-boosting things. It was only six (point two) miles. Easy. I’d done this many, many times. I was rested, fueled, and ready. The weather was perfect. The kit was shaken down. The boy could do it, and now was the time. The trouble was that I had done such a fine job with this run last year that I knew I had to have a fine run this time or I would be a complete and utter failure to all of humanity and the running community in particular. (Sometimes it’s no fun being me.) So I had set myself an unreasonable standard, and I was worried sick about it. Yet I’d had a year of training and tangible improvement since the prior run. I had newish shoes on. I had a running partner, which tends to make these things easier (don’t ask me how). Plus, she had asked me to run with her. And in any case, we were underway.

And doing well. We were trying to maintain a slow pace to save our energy for the long haul. (You run six miles and tell me it doesn’t take management!) And we were chatting. I’ve run with ChrisAnn a number of times on club runs, and we know about each other’s families, work, running ambitions, and the like. So we had some catching up to do. Plus, a fine chatter helps distract from the inevitable agony of running long distances. The course pretty much runs along Brush Creek, so we went west first on the south side of the creek (really more like a small, very picturesque river) then turned around and headed east for a much longer distance on the north side of the creek. People were passing us, but we were passing others, including many who had already succumbed to walking within the first quarter mile. We’d both run the course the year before, and I had driven it that morning, so there were no surprises in store. Thus we could chat and visit and talk about other runners. (Not as many tutus this run as I’ve seen in the past, but colorful clothing was common.) We each asked the other how we were doing. I knew that ChrisAnn wanted to stay at a moderate pace, and just as when I’m driving on the highway, I tend to get going too fast. When I’m running I usually burn out and can’t sustain it. When I’m driving . . . But we were both doing well.

Which is not to say my body didn’t want to stop this foolishness right now! It was telling me very clearly that it did not like being used in this way. It’s usually my lungs that are the last to join the party, and they weren’t disappointing me this time. I had intended to have a good run (as I already mentioned), but I also had another plan with this run. I wanted to pay attention to my thoughts and feelings and moods and motivations. I wanted to watch how I mentally powered through the difficult parts and how to recognize the moments when I felt I could run forever. (It happens.) I wanted to get a sense of what my mental make up was during a challenging run because, well, I have a full marathon coming up in less than a month! I’m going to need to rely on the 90% mental part of running then.

What I found was that there is a huge difference between wanting to stop and needing to stop. And there is a huge reserve within me that I am able to call upon when the running gets tough and the goal is still a long way off. Yes, I wanted to stop. I wanted to take a walking break. But I wanted — more — to keep going to the end and show myself that I have it in me. (Note, I ran the entire distance of the Vancouver USA half marathon in June. But these are lessons that need constant reinforcing.)

ChrisAnn, however, was struggling. Around mile four she had to begin walking breaks. This is an honorable solution to the rigors of running, and I’ve certainly relied on them on many of my long runs. I had no disrespect for her choice, but it did present a problem for me. I wanted/needed to keep running. The solution was as easy as it was obvious. I ran zigzag. I ran in circles around her. I even ran backwards! (More jiggling to that than I expected but kind of fun.) I ran about until she could pick up her pace and I could slot in beside her. We repeated this a few times nearly the rest of the run. ChrisAnn was managing her run as well as she could, and I was maintaining my role as running partner as I could. (Note: There was a selfish quality to this. I’ve done a 5K and a half marathon that did not record the proper distance on my running watch. I blame solar flares. Or bad karma. I worried that the same would happen with this 10K. So if I managed to add a little distance to the route by my zigging and zagging, that would help ensure that when I crossed the finish line, I would have 6.2 miles on my watch, which Nike would then recognize, and the world would be in order again.)

We were eating up the miles. The route from about mile 4.5 gave us a good view of the tall buildings near the finish. They looked impossibly far away, but, of course, they weren’t. I kept my eyes on the ground before my feet and played wingman for ChrisAnn. By this point she didn’t respond to my chatter. She was concentrating on managing her run, and I recognized the signs from my own run of the Kansas City Half Marathon nearly a year before when my wingman, Todd, chatted with me until he recognized that I was beat and just called out mile markers, hills, and other hazards to a man who was ready to die and ready to run.

We kept at it, keeping pace with each other, calling out the contradictory paces and distances on our watches, and otherwise pushing, pushing, pushing.

The last quarter mile of this run (and of the Trolley Run) is the most glorious in the city. It comes back into the Country Club Plaza, downhill all the way, with screaming crowds on each side and the finish arch within view and getting closer. Unfortunately, ChrisAnn needed to walk one last time. She urged me to go on without her, and since I still had some gas in the tank, I did. I picked up my pace, darting past people who were running along at a nice clip themselves. I dug deep to find a good finish in my legs and lungs, and though I think I may have started too early to begin my kick to the finish, I kept at it. I came in to the finish as fast as I could, and I even remembered to close my gasping mouth so I’d look fabulous in the finish photo.

And then it was done. I had run the entire 6.2 miles, and I had run them well. (And it wasn’t lost on me that in a few weeks I’m going to need to complete this run again only I’ll also need to add another 20 miles to it.) I had the sensor clipped from my shoe. And I accepted what you see below.

Plaza blingThe medals for these runs are getting bigger every year. Honking bigger. I’m not sure what I think of that. I wore it for the rest of the morning (including to breakfast, dammit!), but now it will hang on a wall and compete for attention with the others I’ve been accumulating.

ChrisAnn came in behind me only about a minute and a half later. We found each other in the crowded finish chute and pushed our way through the crowds to the chocolate milk and Chinese food (!) vendors waiting for us. So did everyone else, and once we collected our rightful chow, we found a quiet wall to fall against and slide to the ground where we ate and talked and rehashed our runs and talked about future runs and more or less settled down. It happened that the man who was delivering the cases of chocolate milk to the nearby booth happened to pass right before us, and after a couple of passes I realized I could ask him directly for some tasty milk. He obliged us. And then he obliged us again. We rested. We finished sweating. We started to get a little chilled from the still-cool morning. And then we decided we’d had enuf of the run and that it was time to go. ChrisAnn had to go into work (on a Sunday), and I still had that possible obligation to help my son move into his new house. So we sauntered out of the area. We considered briefly getting a print out of our times, but the line was long, and the info was already online, so we didn’t. We parted and made our ways to our homes.

So it was a great, great run for me. Yes, if I hadn’t zigged and zagged to keep pace with ChrisAnn, I might have had an even better finish time, but a) that’s not what a wingman does, and b) I might not have run the entire distance at all if I didn’t have the accountability of a witness (and friend) beside me the entire way.

I have a small 5K coming up in two weeks. Then I board a plane and fly to Portland to face the hardest run of my life. But I’m going to relish today’s run for a while first.

 

don’t drink the water

September 15th, 2014

jugs

A little scene near the fire ring at Roundrock. I’ve kept jugs of water by the cabin for years, even before there was a cabin. Without running water there, and with a come-and-go lake, I felt that I needed a supply of water near where I burn stuff just in case. Or at the very least, to snuff the coals at the end of the evening.

I almost never use the jugs of water. Lately I’ve felt comfortable letting the coals burn themselves to ash through the night (because the forest has happened to be wet when I’ve had fires and because I’ve had, I think, only three campfires this entire, sad year). So the jugs have lain unused for a long time. I think most of these jugs are a couple of years old at the least. A couple of years sitting in the heat and the rain and the cold and the snow and ice, with the relentless sun bearing down on them and breaking apart the chains of molecules that hold them together. The plastic has become brittle, and I wonder if I grabbed one by the handle if the handle would come off in my hand. (This is a sort of inadvertent adjunct to my old bag experiment with its inconclusive result. Also, the boulder on which I conducted that experiment is now gone, having been shoved aside as the north overflow spillway below the dam was built.)

When I first planted the pecans and the pines, I kept jugs of water in their acres so that I could water my little baby trees and give them a decent start. I don’t know if that helped; I certainly couldn’t water them consistently, so they more or less suffered or thrived on whatever nature delivered. Obviously I stopped doing that after the trees that were going to survive got established (and seem to be doing well in both plantations).

Now I think the jugs of water serve two purposes. One, they look ugly and remind me that I should just dump them out and take the empty jugs back to faraway suburbia to recycle. Two, as you can see above, they seem to be a last resort for the local critters when the forest is dry. I have found some jugs gnawed open and drained (mostly from being toppled in the gnawing process, I think). I suppose that’s partly what happened above. I think a critter began chewing on the plastic, but being so brittle, the plastic broke under the weight of the beastie, and water was achieved.

Yep, I’m pretty sure I’m going to clear all of those jugs out of the fire ring area on my next visit.

gnawed

September 10th, 2014

gnawed

I mentioned yesterday that some critter has been gnawing on the wood of the cabin. I’m not sure why this is. You can see in this case that the munching is going on very close to the ground. At two of the four corners of the cabin where there is similar munching, it is also near the ground. I suppose that is a function of the size of the critter doing the gnawing, but why the wood at all?

At first I thought that I must have touched the wood in these areas on some sweaty day and left some personal salt on it, which then attracted the critter. (Libby’s family tells the story of a family trip to the upper peninsula of Michigan and how their car made a terrible noise one morning. They lifted the hood and found many of the hoses gnawed through, eaten by some critter that was apparently after the salt residue on them left by the last mechanic to work on the car.) But I don’t remember touching the wood in these low spots at all, much less any more than the other two corners or the four pillars, which remain unscathed.

The destruction is not extensive from visit to visit. It’s more like a sampling, but what does the critter get out of it? In the middle of a forest, why is the critter more interested in the treated wood of my cabin?

When I oil the exterior (!) and repaint the front door and frame, I hope that will deter the critter from more sampling. (Or, I suppose, it could have the opposite effect.) I’ve done a rough calculation of the surface area of the exterior, and I’ve come up with about  770 square feet of surface. Given the price of cabin stain per gallon and the coverage each could give, that’s a lot of race fees I’m talking about.

A man I know said it should take a person four years to paint a house. You simply do one side each year. (Then, if you’re lucky, you get a year or two off before you must start the cycle again.) That might be a more cost-effective solution. Plus it would allow me to practice using/applying the stain on the least visible side of the cabin (the west side) before I moved to the rest. We’ve also talked about painting the door and frame Santa Fe blue. (If you’ve been to the southwest of the U.S. you know the blue I’m talking about.) The trouble is finding that exact blue. Every paint company has its own definition of the color, and it’s been too long since I’ve been to Santa Fe to picture in my mind the true color that attracts my eye. That would be distinctive and pleasing, except that the roof of the cabin is green, so the contrast might be jarring when taking in the whole picture.

That little gnawing critter has no idea the trouble it’s giving me.

moldy

September 9th, 2014

moldy

How old is this cabin of mine? Four years now? I was supposed to oil the exterior last fall and never got myself around to it. Now I’m thinking I must do so this fall and not hesitate another season more.

The exterior wood is still in great condition (except the parts that the critters are eating or at least munching on). The only part that needs . . . something . . . is the back, and then only the lower few “logs”. The back of the cabin faces north, and there are tall trees growing behind it. There is also a two-foot high retaining wall about four feet behind it. And there are no gutters on the cabin. So when it rains, any rain on the back half of the roof falls into the gravel behind the cabin, and some of it inevitably splashes onto the logs. I suppose it is a more humid microclimate back there as well since it doesn’t get any sun to help dry everything.

So the lower few logs on the back of the cabin are growing the spotty mold you see in the photo above. I would like to get that off of there before I oil it, but I haven’t had any luck so far. I tried spraying it with a water/bleach mix, but that made no difference at all. On my last visit there (a week ago — so long ago) I tried taking a stiff bristled brush to the mold. Again, no difference. I don’t think the bristles in the brush were strong enuf, but if I used a wire brush, I’m afraid I would mostly just scratch the wood.

I’m not sure what to do. Probably there are all sorts of nasty chemical treatments I can use, but the cabin is so close to the lake (when there is a lake, that is) that I’m reluctant to do anything radical.

What do you think I should do?

what of the copperhead?

September 8th, 2014

stacked stones

I tried to get a photo for today’s post, but my camera just wasn’t up to the job. It couldn’t focus on what I intended. So instead I give you this poorly focused photo of some stacked stones in my forest.

Because you’re an avid reader of this humble blog — heck, you probably take notes you’re so good — you’ll remember my recent post about the dead opossum in the overflow drain on the dam and how I found a copperhead coiled up inside there as well. Here is one of the photos from that post:

copperhead

I wondered/worried at the time whether the copperhead would suffer the same fate as the opossum, getting itself down into the drum (about three feet below the lowest exit) and not be able to get itself out.

So despite the rain and the scrubby impassibility of the top of the dam, I ventured out to the drum to see what there was to see.

And what did I see?

I saw the skin of the copperhead in the bottom of the drum but no sign of the snake itself. Apparently the copperhead had sought a protected area to have its growth spurt, and the overflow drum suited it just fine (especially in the “drought” period we’ve been experiencing). That business being over with, the snake appears to have scaled the sheer side of the drum and gone out through the drain pipe or perhaps even through the wire mesh at the top. In the comments from that earlier post, Wayne of Niches notes that this was a likely resolution for the snake, and I’m glad he was right. (His blog has been in my links since forever.)

I think I have come upon a solution for the poor mammals that fall into the pit of the overflow drum, a solution that won’t require me to remove the steel mesh (which I would probably never be able to put back on again). I need to research it, and if it seems workable, to act on it. If so, I’ll be sure to give you a full account here.

As to the stacked stones at the top, I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but I will stack those stones and then wander to that part of the forest weeks later to find that they have been not only been knocked down but scattered about. My guess is that some critter smells the oil of my skin on the stones (back in the days when I still smoked ceegars — before I transformed into a runner — I would sometimes grind out the butt of a ceegar on these stones and then stick the remainder beneath them) and so tears them apart looking for something good to eat.

traffic jams, rained out campfires, and walking sticks

September 3rd, 2014

walking stick

I took a couple of extra days off after the Labor Day holiday, in part because my daughter, Rachel, is in town with my grandson (due to arrive in person in January). But I also knew that Libby would spend most of the time with Rachel, doing girly things where I would be in the way half of the time and embarrassed the other half. And since I hadn’t been down to Roundrock in a few weeks, I took some of my time off for a quick overnight.

A quick, wet overnight it turned out. Because I had business west of town in the morning, I wasn’t on the road to the woods until noon. And with a few stops to make (fuel, food) I took nearly three hours to complete my usual two hour drive. (Lucky me, though. The folks heading into Kansas City, many of them hauling boats back from the lake, were stuck in a couple of miles-long traffic jams as roadwork in that direction narrowed the highway down to one lane. I don’t know much about road construction, but it seems that Labor Day would be the worst day to constrict traffic heading back from the lake into the city. Just sayin’.)

The sky was overcast the entire drive down, and once I got to the Cabin at the End of the Road, darker clouds were massing in the west. I was determined to have a campfire, though, and so once I got the truck unloaded and stuff generally organized, I began collecting fire wood from the forest. It was all wet from the recent rains, but the weather had been so dry in recent weeks, that I think the ground absorbed all of the rain water. My poor lake was as diminished as ever.

I managed to get enuf firewood together to make a respectable teepee arrangement, with some larger pieces off to the side for fuel later. Then I touched a match to it and crossed my fingers. The wood caught readily and I fed it the fuel I had. But I only managed to get an hour or so out of the fire — this was before nightfall even — and then the rain started. It was fitful, spitting a little water out of the sky and then pausing to tease before sending down more rain. I soon retreated to the cabin porch where I sat in a comfy chair and let my thoughts drift.

The rain picked up through the evening, and when darkness truly fell, I went into the cabin, undressed, pulled down the sheets on the bed, and crawled in. And that’s when the rain really started coming down. The thunder had been booming in the west for hours, but it finally reached my little bit of forest on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks and decided to hang around. There wasn’t much lightning, but the booming thunder seemed continuous (as I imagine it might to someone who is only partly conscious and trying to sleep). And the rain! It drummed on the steel roof of the cabin all night long. Heavy, heavy rain.

I got up once or twice (or maybe more) in the night to step onto the porch, but it was too dark to see the lake below. I imagined from the sound of the rain and the lashing it gave me during my brief moments on the porch, that the lake would be full by morning.

Alas, it was not so. As I said, I think the ground absorbed this round of the rain. The lake looked no different in the morning than it had the afternoon before despite what seemed like twelve-hours of constant, heavy rain.

I stuck around for a while in the morning, but the trees were dripping in the breeze, and occasional actual rain fell from the gray sky. There were chores to be done (there are always chores to be done at Roundrock) but I didn’t expect the weather to improve (if the forecast I had consulted could be trusted), and since there were also chores to be done back in faraway suburbia, I decided to pack up and head home. Remembering the miles-long traffic jams I saw on my way down, I took a different route home. It added more time, but I didn’t have to wait behind boats.

those thrilling days of yesteryear

September 2nd, 2014

recent round rock

 

This humble blog has had 11,790+ comments in its many years of existence. (I say “+” since more have likely happened since I wrote this post.) Those are spread over 2,395+ posts. (I say “+” since I don’t know if this post is counted in that number.) And my spam blocker has done its job on 2,975,951+ spam comments. (I say “+” yadda yadda yadda.)

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My blue tailed skink post continues to get comments, now at 99 of them. The consensus is that the skink in the photo at the post is a fake.

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It’s wistful and fun to go back and read the comments left by kind people from years ago. So many people have come and gone, some of whom are still in touch and others who have vanished.

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Nine years ago on this humble blog I was pondering the benefits of lake swimming, and in a nice little bit at the end I find a recent fulfillment (not of the lake but of something else).

Eight years ago I wrote of a pine planting experiment I tried. I can’t tell you the fate of those pines, though I doubt they met with success, but once again I find a recent fulfillment in what I said then.

Seven years ago I wrote a rambling post, much like this one.

Six years ago I gave an account of a recent visit Libby and I had made to Roundrock. It seems we did a lot of swimming that day.

Five years ago I made the acquaintance of a ground skink (I think). Curiously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one again.

Four years ago I had begun my Great Hiatus and didn’t have a post.

Three years ago I was still on the Great Hiatus. Sorry about that.

Two years ago I had returned, but I wasn’t making the daily posts, and I have nothing for this corresponding day then.

One year ago I was musing about the good life on the shady porch. An inadvertent stewardship.

thriving pecan

September 1st, 2014

pecan

I wish I could have done something about the flooding backlight at the top of this photo, but when you’re shooting toward the sky, you take when you can get I suppose.

What you see in the foreground is one of the dozen or so pecan trees I had planted in the acre below the dam about a dozen or so years ago. I’d actually planted more than a hundred pecans. The first year we put in 50, and most of those died. So the second year we put in another 50. Most of those died. I think we did it again the third year. (I even tried putting some shortleaf pine in here, but they never took.)

So what I have left is this dozen or so around the edge of the acre. But the survivors are now the thrivers. This pecan is more than twice as tall as I am. It’s one of the best of the bunch, but all of them that are still around are doing well.

From what I’ve read about them, and the conditions they find themselves in, these trees could take up to a dozen years to begin producing nuts. I’ve certainly never seen any nuts on any of them, though I suppose the critters could get to them before I did. Still, they’re surrounded on three sides by an oak/hickory forest, and to the north is my biggest collection of walnut trees. Seems like the critters might overlook some pecans. But I suppose they’re just not old enuf to begin producing.

Compare the tree above to the little guy in this old post. It might even be the same tree.

eggshell vignette

August 27th, 2014

eggshell

I came upon this little scene in the middle of the road near the cabin the last time I was at Roundrock. Some critter had evidently feasted on this egg recently.

I cannot tell you what kind of bird this egg came from; it was the size and color of a chicken egg, but any chickens would be quite a ways away at the neighbor’s ranch. Unless one of the hens got loose and left some eggs in my woods, it seems unlikely that a critter would have carried a chicken egg from the ranch to my road. I’m guessing it was the egg of some wild native bird, though I couldn’t say what.

And it may be that the critter didn’t transport the egg here at all. In fact, it might have been merely an eggshell by the time it got to the road. I know that many birds will take the eggshells from their hatched chicks far from the nest. Supposedly this is better than just tossing them over the side of the nest since an accumulation of shells can tell a predator where a nest is. When we had stumbled upon the two whippoorwill chicks on the forest floor last spring, we just happened to direct our steps farther in the forest and came upon a half of an egg shell a hundred feet away. I can’t say whether it was one of the eggs the chicks had recently hatched from or not, but it was on its own out there in the wild.