Fine weather and another trip to the woods. The forecast called for temps in the 70s, which is delightful for late October in Missouri, and we even considered taking along our swimming gear (though if we hadn’t and we chose to swim, other “arrangements” could have been made). I had watched the weather maps all of last week, and on Thursday a large storm cell had spent much of the day lingering over our county, so we had hopes of seeing more water in our lake.
But first, we diverted to Fallen Timbers, that other bit of Ozark woods we have about an hour away from Roundrock. We don’t get over there as much now that we’ve found we can spend all of our money at Roundrock instead, so I was glad to take the opportunity to visit.
I may have reported that my Good Neighbor Max continues to keep our ridgetop nicely mowed for us. So it was when we visited on Sunday; he’s straightened up the place for winter. Such a fine neighbor! I need to send him a note of thanks. We made a hike to a remote corner of our woods here on a specific errand that I’ll post about soon, but the trek there and back was an adventure enuf. The trip out from the ridgetop was downhill. Perhaps a decade ago — before we had purchased this land — a prior owner had harvested much of the timber. In the time since, the scrub has taken advantage of all of the sunlight reaching the forest floor and has sprouted a healthy, thick stand. We had to fight and chop our way through it just to go downhill.
There was plenty of color in the woods. The leaves were mostly reds and yellows and oranges, though there was still a little green left in the forest. In another week or so, it will all be a dull brown, so I’m glad we made it to the woods on the right weekend. Attending to our chore in the corner, we then made the hike back up the hill to the ridgetop, pushing and clawing and cutting for every foot of gain. Libby had the notion that she was cutting us a permanent path into our forest, but I think the scrub has other ideas. She was able to liberate a dozen or so cedar trees (they’re actually junipers) from their earthly toil. (So far, Fallen Timbers is remarkably cedar free, so we’re trying to give the hardwoods as much chance as we can.)
Then it was time to get back in the truck and drive the hour or so over to Roundrock. The drive was gorgeous. While the Ozarks can’t boast the brilliant reds of a New England Autumn, I think our oaks and hickories can do a fine job with their oranges and yellows. Much of our way was through a Corps of Engineers impoundment area, so the roads were well manicured, and many vistas showed rolling hillsides of color.
As I said, we were hopeful that the rains of the week had made a noticeable difference at Roundrock, and the puddles in the entrance road were hopeful signs. But enuf of that. On to the lake.
When we arrived there we could see that the water level in Lake Marguerite was up. It had risen two or three inches since our last visit! (That exclamation point is utter sarcasm by the way.) So much for a storm cell lingering over my woods for a day. I suppose the ground soaked up the water, which is good, of course. And maybe that means that the rains that are supposed to come later this week will not sink into the ground but slide across it and collect in my pathetic lakebed.
As we walked down the road to the dam, we could see scores of insects flying about in the sunlight. Soon they were landing on us. They were ladybugs, and there were dozens on each of us. We could brush them off our clothes easily enuf, but when they started flying into our eyes and trying to crawl in our ears, the novelty of the moment disappeared. And these little things must have been hungry for they were biting wherever they reached our skin. Back to the trees we were free of these little beasties, but when we later crossed the dam, they remembered us.
Our day was mostly aimless at Roundrock. After our detour to Fallen Timbers we arrived at Roundrock at lunch time, and since we planned to do a lot of vigorous work clearing scrub off the dam, we figured we needed to get our nourishment. This meant sitting in the comfy chairs under the shady tarp overlooking the empty lake. And once we are seated, it’s hard to get motivated about anything. Lunch was PBJs*, and I washed down each dry bite with a great gulp of iced tea (unsweetened, of course).
Eventually, somehow, we managed to push ourselves out of the chairs and think about working. We collected the grass whips from the back of the truck and started across the dam. I wanted to have a second look at the deer remains we had found on our last visit to see if there might be a hunter’s arrow among the bones. Firearm season hasn’t started yet, so if this was a hunter-killed deer, the chance of an arrow was possible. But we found no arrow. We did find that a month-old deer carcass can still give a powerful stink when you turn it over with sticks.
I had vowed to eat the fruit of a tomatilla if I came across one, but that didn’t happen. We didn’t really venture into the area where they grow best, and I wasn’t getting much support in this idea from the good wife. Instead we hiked over to some of the exposed ridge above the pecan plantation. Here we sat for a while, thinking about going down to the dam to swing the grasswhips. But these thoughts didn’t hold much appeal, so we sat and chatted about everything and nothing instead.
Eventually we pushed ourselves up from here as well and made our way across the pecan plantation. I suppose if i were industrious, I would get myself a dozen bales of straw and mulch around these trees. But that will have to be for a later trip.
When we arrived at the base of the dam, the idea of giving the grass whips a few swings was unavoidable. But the enthusiasm wasn’t there. I suppose I cleared an entire square meter of dam face (utter sarcasm again), and Libby may have done the same. But we have something called buck brush coming up there. It is a woody scrub that puts an unpleasant recoil in the swing of the whips. Enuf of that! Soon we were back to the truck.
I wandered about a bit more. Libby tells me she returned to the dam with the loppers to make more progress. And then it was time to go home. Which we did. And here I am. Wishing I were there.
*Peanut butter and jelly