In a January like none in my memory, we’ve continued to enjoy mild temperatures, and when these happen to come on a weekend, what is one to do but jump in the truck and head to the Ozarks?
Much-needed thundershowers were in the forecast for the day, so we decided to leave Max at home: a two-hour drive home with a wet dog in the cab of the truck is really not all that pleasant. On our recent trip to Fallen Timbers, we engaged in what we consider an important annual activity: walking the property line. And the same thing was our plan for the day at Roundrock.
It nearly didn’t happen.
We arrived at Roundrock at our usual time, but all of our plans were going to be dictated by the weather. If the hard rain we expected arrived, we would dispense with the mile and a half hike around the perimeter since the wet and the wind would make us colder than we wanted despite the warm 50 degree day.
Among the chores we had tentatively scheduled for the day was the sowing of some wildflower seeds I had recently purchased from a small but knowledgeable operation. This was something we could do in the rain even if all of our other plans were washed out. So we directed our feet toward Libby’s Island, where we have cast wildflower seeds before. I’m hoping this spring and summer it will be awash with color, and today’s contribution will be a pleasant addition to that. Later we scattered some seeds in a wet area near the pecan plantation. I hope to see lobelia cardinalis blooming madly there this year.
As we strode across the pecan plantation back to the dry shelter, looking with measured sadness at the missing pecans — even the ones we mulched so dutifully last fall — I thought that perhaps we should give up the whole pecan idea and turn the area over to quail habitat instead. The Conservation Department sells inexpensive sets of plants that are suitable for quail. Well, it’s something to think about.
When we are in the woods, we leave our watches in the car, so we had no clear idea what time it was. Since the rain was continuing its intermittent falling, we were not sure if we would take the perimeter hike or not. If we were, though, we would want to stoke our furnaces (lunch), so we headed to the shelter, the comfort of the chairs, and the yummy meal we had packed in the cooler. Someday when I’m really desperate for something to post, I’ll write about our typical lunch fare at Roundrock.
I was in favor of postponing the hike along the fences until a later visit when we could be more sure of the weather. Even a colder day when it would be dry would be better than a moderately warm day when we would be soaked and far from the truck. Libby thought otherwise. She pointed out that if we did not take the hike, we would regret squandering the opportunity. You can guess the rest.
We started our hike along the northern property line where a good fence runs. In past years when we took this hike we always went counter-clockwise. This day, however, we broke with tradition and went with the clock. (At Fallen Timbers we have always hiked the perimeter clockwise. I don’t know why that is.) This took us immediately into the forest where we would be at least a little protected from any rain, which had mostly stopped for the present. This part of our woods, the NE corner, has slabs of reddish sandstone breaking the surface of the forest floor. I have some vague building ambitions for the stuff, so it was nice to walk amongst it and dream my dreams.
In a short while we came to our eastern boundary, which is also well fenced. Over the years we have tried to do a little clearing along our side of the fences around Roundrock. Our goal is to make a clear path for hiking, thus facilitating future annual hikes. To do this, we cut the low branches of trees along the fence so that we can walk under then unaccosted. A second reason, though, is to have recent, obvious cuts to the trees along the fence so that our neighbors can see that we have been in the area. If they know we are paying attention to the property line, they are more likely to share our respect of it. So here and there I cleared the way — by no means making a continuous path, which will take years — and leaving evidence of our vigilence as we went. The eastern boundary takes in the Central Valley where it exits our property, and this means whether we are headed north or south, we will go down one hill and up another, which we did.
At our SE corner we found ourselves a nice log and had a sit. At this point we were only about a third of the way finished with the perimeter, but the breather was welcome. It was also nice just to sit still and listen to the sound of the rain falling on the leaf litter. Eventually we pushed ourselves upright and continued.
The fence along our southern border only goes half the distance of our line. It then turns to the south and the remainder of our southern line is unmarked, which means adventure. The photo above shows a large portion of our southern line. The open, grassy area is my neighbor’s property. That’s Roundrock on the left. My neighbor keeps this avenue of grass open, and on our visit today we saw fresh tire tracks in the grass. Behind me in the photo, the remainder of our southern boundary stretches through the trackless forest.
We had neglected to bring a compass with us. This would have helped at this point since we had to keep due west despite the slope of the land, which would tend to draw us to the south. I’ve hiked the stretch a few times, though, and I was pretty sure I knew where we should go, more or less. Since the line is not defined, how could I know where the right way to go is? Well, I just do!
We came to the dry creek — a sort of landmark on this hike — about where I thought the line ran, and from here it was an easy stumble up the creek to our SW corner where our road enters Roundrock. Not too bad. From here it was an easy hike along our gravel road all the way back to our waiting pickup truck.
At the truck we shed all of our wet clothes (well, most of them). I’m unconvinced that ponchos really keep one dry. I think I sweated sufficiently beneath the thing to compensate for the water that would have fallen directly on my clothing.
The sun never made an appearance this day. It was windy some of the time, rainy much of the time, and overcast all of the time. By the time we reached the truck, we were ready to go home, and that’s what we did.