Archive for November, 2006

Interlopers – Part 9

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Welcome sign.JPG

I’ve written about serendipity here before. But I think this post may be more about coincidence than serendipity.

When we were out at Roundrock last week, the first thing we noticed was that our welcome sign was hanging oddly from the nail in the tree beside our entrance. We had strung it up with wire (see the rust stains beside the holes at the top?), and I suppose it had rusted sufficiently that a vandal bird or errant breeze had snapped it, leaving the sign askew. So Libby took it down, and we brought it home to contrive some other sort of hanging arrangement for it. This meant that there was no Welcome sign at the entrance to Roundrock. All that left were two Private Property signs.

I received a call from my Good Neighbor Brian two days after our last visit. He had stayed in the area all weekend (he lives in Kansas City), and he reported that the bachelor party had returned again to our woods the day after we had left (that would be Saturday) and that they had just driven across his land to go into Roundrock as he was talking to me on the phone then (that would be Sunday). He was going to jump on his ATV and go over to my woods to confront them, and he wanted to make sure that was okay with me.

He and I had had a nice talk on Friday about how wonderful he is to be policing our land for us. I am a non-confrontational sort, while Brian won’t hesitate to make the facts clear to people. I told him I was perfectly comfortable being the good cop to his bad cop. So if he wanted to go face my trespassers and bark at them for me, great!

About twenty minutes later I received another call from Good Neighbor Brian. He said that he had confronted the bachelor party perps, and the party had grown. There were now six ATVs and one mule. He alerted them to the apparently unknown fact that they were trespassing, and they told him what he expected they would. They said that they had met with the landowner (me) the other day and he didn’t seem to mind them being there. He was a real friendly guy, they told him. (I think if quizzed, this young man would not even know my name.)

Brian told them that this was because the landower (still me) was just too nice to tell anyone no. (This really is the case with me in just about everything.) He explained that the reason people like us bought such large pieces of land was to achieve solitude, and by trespassing regularly, the gang was destroying that goal.

He also made the clever point that a) there has been some theft and vandalism in the area (not for a long time, but technically true) and b) if anything further did happen, they would be the first ones everyone would think to blame. Did they want that possibility hanging over their heads?

They left our woods, presumably to go back down to their valley to explode more things. I’ll say again, they don’t seem like bad people. They’re youngsters (early twenties) and full of spirit, and they seem to have a great time at that cabin in the valley. I’ve never found any trash or damage after their visits. Nothing of mine is ever missing. None of the round rocks we have collected are moved. Not so much as a twig is snapped that I can find. So it is a bit of a stretch for me to be too worried about this whole interloping business. (On their part anyway. Those hunters who set up a couple of blinds in our woods are a different story, though they skedaddled pretty quickly when they knew I was coming too.)

And part of me wants to know what it is the bachelor party gang finds about my woods to be so interesting. Is it the dry lakebed? They have a nice lake of their own in front of their cabin. The round rocks? They have plenty of their own. My only guess is the Greenway. This is a quarter mile of straight, flat, open road, and I think they can crank up their machines to rip down it the way youngsters seem to love. (I was young once.)

So maybe there will be more to this tale. I’m hoping to convince Libby to go out to the woods again this coming Saturday. It will be my last chance before the Africa trip, and even though that is an essentially meaningless argument, it does have a bit of foreboding in it, and so it may slip past her reason, taking us for a day in the woods.

The coincidence of this story? Well, it’s more of an anti-coincidence. My regular interlopers seem to have increased their visits to our woods now that the Welcome sign is gone. If you look closely at the sign in the photo above, you can see that the Welcome is getting a little worn out — literally. Coincidence?

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A long storm front slanted across Missouri yesterday (leaving Kansas City slipping in the first ice storm of the season), but Roundrock managed to receive several hours of pounding rain.

Update: The winter snowstorm of last night was a bit of a bust, so it’s off to work I go.

Missouri calendar:

  • Milkweed pods open.

Interlopers – Part 8

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

(No photo. Big post instead.)

On our recent trip to Roundrock with the twins, we had hiked over to the new campsite Libby and I have been making deep in the woods. We had chosen this site because it was off the road enuf so that we couldn’t be seen should someone happen along our road. (And no one should “happen along” our road. It leads nowhere beyond our property, so no one should really be on it.)

We told the boys about how, on our last overnight at Roundrock, we had encountered the bachelor party that came roaring through our woods — twice — but that the remoteness of our new campsite meant they had overlooked us their second time through. This was when the trees were in leaf, but as Adam looked toward our road, I think he was a bit skeptical.

And then an astonishing thing happened!

The bachelor party came roaring through our woods again!

It was as though the capricious gods who govern Roundrock had decided to smile on me and give me clear evidence to take away my boy’s doubt of my story.

As we were standing in our new campsite, just moments after we had described hearing the ATVs of the bachelor party on our road two months before, WE HEARD THE ATVS OF THE BACHELOR PARTY ON OUR ROAD AGAIN. The coincidence was almost scary, and I add it to my collection of spooky moments while at Roundrock.

We peered through the trees and could once again make out the noisy machines zipping by. I wondered if it might be Good Neighbor Brian and his wife, for they generally visit our woods when they are down from Kansas City just to make sure everything is okay. But Adam counted three ATVs, so it wasn’t Brian.

Then we were left with a dilemma. Should we sit tight in the woods and wait for the gang to turn around and leave (which we expected they would do)? Or should we hike out to the road to confront them as they drove out? Compounding this was the fact that our cars and tools were a half mile away, down where the ATVs were headed. Adam had left his wallet and keys in his car, and I know we had a goodly amount of cash in the wide-open truck.

After a brief discussion, we decided to hike to the road so we would be on it when the ATV gang made their return trip. I wasn’t sure whom we would meet, but I wanted them to know that we were present and paying attention to those who came and went on our property. Since there were four of us (plus a ferocious Sheltie), I figured we could bring a little gravitas to the meeting.

So we enacted our plan. As we pushed through the trees to get to our road, Adam suggested that we could simply put a gate at our entrance to keep out the trespassers. I told him all that would do is inconvenience us since the interlopers on the ATVs could easily slip through the trees nearby and be back on our road in seconds. Our western property line, I told him, was too porous to stop an interloper on an ATV. He seemed skeptical about this point of mine too, but we pushed on. It wasn’t long before we heard the roar of the machines coming our way. It turned out to be a bachelor-less party this time. Two of the rowdy young men of our earlier encounter were there, but they had brought along their wives as well. One was the newlywed wife — who is the daughter of the man whose cabin they were staying at nearby — and the other was a wife who, as she patted her distinctively rounded belly, assured us she had been married four years.

So here were our interlopers, caught in the act. Again. We made pleasant small talk. They told us that they were scouting the neighboring areas looking for black-powder hunters because they intended to start up with the semi-automatic weapons fire and general explosions of their earlier visit but didn’t want to disturb anyone’s hunting. (As though the approaching roar of their ATVs wouldn’t disturb the hunting?) It sounded like a contrived explanation to be pulled out of a back pocket should they encounter any landowners while they were trespassing, but it allowed them to save face, and it allowed me to pretend that I considered their actions reasonable.

Okay, no harm done. As I’ve noted before, we seem to have a regular parade of visitors when we’re not in our woods. When I make new acquaintances in the area, they invariably say something like “You’re the one with that big empty lake way back there in the woods, aren’t you?” So hapless Lake Marguerite must be something of a tourist site. Still, my interlopers of that day knew that I knew they were there. I think that innoculates me from any mischief they might have otherwise contemplated. They would be the first suspected if anything were to happen in my woods.

So we wished them well with their coming explosions down in their valley and continued down our road, in a hurry now to see if they had ransaked our cars and equipment.

And then an astonishing thing happened!

We were about three quarters of the way back to our cars when we heard the ATVs approaching again! (You may recall me saying that on that first bachelor party visit, the group had come back a second time later that evening to roar down our road.) But as we turned to face the interlopers, we saw only one ATV coming down the long stretch of the Greenway. It turned out that this visitor was Good Neighbor Brian, who had just arrived at his place (directly to our west) a bit before. When he had heard the ATVs leaving our woods, he had hopped onto his own and drove out to confront them himself, he told us. (They have to cross his property to get to our property.)

Satisfying himself that they were locals with (more or less) legitimate right being on the ridgetop, he waved them on and then drove over to our woods to see if we were home. So we chatted, which is something Brian excells at.

He told us that our common neighbor Tom has more than 240 acres of woods adjoining both of our properties. I’ve met Tom once or twice, and I’ve spoken to him on the phone a few times. (One of those times is when he told me that his controlled burn had gotten loose and he had burned some of my forest.) Tom is not a hunter, and the main road that leads into his land had grown thick with grass over the summer. But Brian told us to have a look at this road on our way out because the grass is knocked down and worn away by all of the deer hunters who hunted on Tom’s 240 acres. And Tom had not given anyone permission to hunt on his land. We absentee landowners seem to have different ideas about private property than some slob hunters. (And I’ll say again, most hunters I know are responsible people who would never hunt land that wasn’t their own without permission. It is the slob hunters who ruin the reputation for all.)

And Brian then told us that Tom is trying to build support for putting in another gate on the common road to control trespassing a bit more. It would keep out casual interlopers (like mine) and slob hunters (like his). Plus Tom will be constructing a large building on his land this spring to house all of the tools and equipment of his repair shop in Kansas City. This is thousands of dollars of property that he doesn’t feel he can leave unguarded, and he hopes a gate will provide some protection. An interesting point Brian made was that Tom’s ambition is to put an electric gate in, one that is opened and closed by radio control so that we legitimate landowners don’t have to be bothered to get out of our cars to open and close the gate as we pass through. There is electricity in this part of the valley, so the job could be done. And if the score or so of us who have land beyond where the gate would go could toss in a little bit of money each, the whole project would be reasonable.

Still, said Brian, the gate wouldn’t stop a determined interloper who could cut through the barbed wire fence beside the gate if he were intending to clean out Tom’s building full of shop tools. And Brian said even the border between his property and ours was too porous to stop an interloper on an ATV from getting in even if we put a gate at our entrance. He used the word “porous” just as I had when I made that same point to Adam. It feels good when you can look like you know what your talking about before you sons!

After we chatted with Brian, we took our leave and headed down the hill to where our cars were parked. Nothing was missing (I didn’t think anything would be), but the sun seemed to be racing across the sky, and we thought we should begin the trek home before real darkness descended.

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I’m beginning to think that I should make “Interlopers” a category of its own on this blog. That might come across as too fastidious of me, though, so perhaps I won’t. (But then there is tomorrow’s post!)

Missouri calendar:

  • Voles and mice feed on grass and seeds under the snow.

11.24.2006

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

DSC02049.JPG

We made a family visit to Roundrock on Friday. This has become our post-Thanksgiving Day tradition in recent years, and I don’t mind being out in the woods on any day but especially on the biggest shopping day of the year.

The twins, Adam and Aaron, joined us, and, as you can see from the only partially good photo above, Max came along as well. (Max generally stays home during the buggy season because the little insects will pester him for weeks after a visit then.)

We managed to get a little work done. We put fencing around six more of the pine trees, but those damned deer . . . I’ll have to make a post about the four-legged beasts shortly. I realize I am encroaching on their territory, and I realize I’m not around enuf to scare them off, and I realize that pine trees are relatively cheap and plentiful from the state nursery, but, grrrrr!

Since there were four of us, the work went quickly. Aaron and I used the post driver to plant the poles beside the trees while Libby and Adam cut the fencing and put it around the trees. Aaron commented about how easy it is to drive the posts into the ground around the pines, but I invited him to help me next spring when we would be adding more posts in the rocky soil around the pecans. Then he might have a different attitude.

We’d gotten a later start that morning, so when the first chore was completed, we proceeded directly to lunch, which involved a campfire, roasted weenies, and ‘smores. Max wanted everyone to see that he ate his hot dog off of a plate. Alas, the whiteness of the plate really goofed up that photo. I didn’t expect the relatively weak sunlight of late November to wash out this shot (and many others), but I seem to recall that I have lighting problems when my batteries start to get low. Don’t know if that’s valid, but I’ll use it as an excuse for as long as I can.

After lunch we sat in the comfy chairs and savored the goodness of life for a while, but then we did a little clearing work on the dam. As I’ve mentioned recently, parts of the downstream side of the dam are getting covered with scrubby growth, which can provide ideal cover for burrowning animals. Of course, few people want burrowing animals in a dam, even one holding back only an imaginary lake (such as mine for the present). So the plan is to clear the scrub from the dam (a little at a time so the project doesn’t seem so daunting), and then in the spring I will seed these opened areas with native prairie grasses that I hope will take off and choke out future scrub. (But if I don’t mow the prairie grasses, I suppose they will provide cover as well.) As Aaron was gleefully swinging the grass whip, he saw some furry critter dart away. He thought it might be a groundhog (I’m skeptical), but I startled a mouse as I worked as well, so clearly the job needs doing.

After we grew bored of the scrub work (I think with the boys’ help we managed to get more than half of the whole job done, so we earned our boredom) we decided to take a hike up the Central Valley. There were many places we might have gone, but we stuck to the normal route (which is fresh to the boys who don’t come out to the woods nearly enuf) and eventually took ourselves to the new campsite Libby and I have been carving into the woods away from our road. An interesting thing happened whilst we were there, so tune in tomorrow for an account of that. Then we hiked back along our road to where we had left the cars. (The boys decided to drive separately so they would have more space and so they could take the dog with them. It worked out well.)

The day had advanced and it was time to pack our gear, ensure that the fire was fully quenched, and get back onto the road home. The boys had given us most of their day, and we were glad to have them along. Max loves to go to the woods, but it seems clear that he relishes his home life even more when he appreciates the contrast. Me, I’m hoping to get one more trip to Roundrock before I leave for Africa next week.

Missouri calender:

  • Lots of blank boxes on the Natural Events Calendar this time of the year.

Smilax

Monday, November 27th, 2006

smilax.JPG

As the seasons change, more of the subtler plants in my forest can make their presence known. Above is the leaf of a smilax vine. These appear here and there in the woods at Roundrock, and I suppose I have the average amount of smilax for my part of Missouri. It’s just that in the rampant spring and summer, it is obscured by whatever else is green and growing.

There are eight varieties of smilax found in Missouri. I have one of the four types that have spines, as I have repeatedly verified. Perhaps my variety is Smilax hispida, which is common throughout the state and most of the eastern U.S. The needles are thin enuf to penetrate the fabric of my pants and remind me of their presence.

I once stayed at a luxury resort (on the company dime, I should add) in West Virginia called the Greenbrier. It was a place out of its time, I think, beginning as a mineral springs watering hole for the rich and powerful. It had a faded grandeur and opulence that seemed forced like a hot-house flower, as though it didn’t yet realize that most of the world had moved on from such overdone luxury. (Oddly, it had been used as a prisoner-of-war camp for captured German soldiers during WWII.) I remember hiking in the hills around this resort and coming upon odd concrete structures rising from the ground. I didn’t think much of them at the time, but later it was revealed that there are massive underground bunkers on the grounds of this resort that were intended to serve as a secret site for Congress to function in should a national crisis (such as a nuclear war) make Washington, D.C. unlivable. This helped me understand why such an anachronism as this resort had continued to survive into our age. Now I understand the owners are lobbying to have gambling permitted at the resort to increase its census. All this tells me that the place is a white elephant that no one really knows what to do with.

Which is all an interesting seque from the subject of my post today, but there is a connection, it turns out! Smilax, the thorny kind such as I have, is sometimes called catbrier or greenbrier. Now, when I am stomping around my forest and I come upon the familiar smilax leaf, I think of that odd visit to the resort so many years ago, and I think of what might be underground at Roundrock. While I’d like to find a cave in my woods, I certainly hope no one is using the area for some Cold War survival center. But who knows?

Missouri calendar:

  • Yet again, the calendar comes up blank.

Not all who wander are lost

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

fern, bent.JPG

This photo is from our woods called Fallen Timbers, where the ferns grow more luxuriantly. We do have ferns at Roundrock, but not in the density or vigor as at Fallen Timbers.

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It’s Sunday. Time for an aimless post. Nothing much to report. Just a week and a half before I leave for Africa. I suspect the greatest difficulty I will face the whole journey is the long time spent on airplanes. Well, I’ve settled on a book to be my companion. It will be Don Quixote, though not the new translation that is supposed to be so wonderful. I fully expect to lose this book somewhere along the way, and I don’t want to lose a good copy if that happens. It’s unlikely that I’ll be able to finish the book on the flights to Kenya, so I won’t be leaving it behind for Seth to read, but it’s not his kind of book anyway.

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Don’t forget to consider making a submission to this month’s Festival of the Trees. It’s being hosted by Jade at Arboreality (such a perfect name to host a tree carnival). She’ll need your submission by Wednesday, November 29, so don’t delay.

And remember that you are welcome to be a host site for the Festival some month.

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My server site (or someone) has reset my spam comment counter. I was up to nearly 170,000 spam comments, but now I’m at a paltry 4,000. I don’t suppose it is something to be especially proud of, but I was in the big leagues. Don’t know how I got there. If only I had as many actual readers.

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I’ve tried to figure out how I’ve found my way to so many of the blogs I read and love (and even those I read and don’t love). The obvious answer in most cases is that I’ve seen them on the blogroll of other blogs. I’ve called Rurality a “gateway blog.” I think it sent me down the path of my blogging addiction. (I’ve also called Rurality the Queen of All Blogs.) I think this is how I found Niches and the Dharma Bums.

But this is true of many of the other blogs I visit. Everyone has at least one or two recommendations I have taken.

Still, surely there have been some of my own discoveries. I think I found Walter’s blog through one of those aggregating sites where you can search for sites with interests you like. Pure Florida may have come to me that way, but that blog is now on so many blogrolls that I can’t be sure.

Of course I’ve found my way to many blogs based on the comments their owners have left on my site or on others’ sites.

In any case, my blog reading has robbed me of many a productive hour of my life. But I’ve made a lot of friends, and that’s worth something.

Missouri calendar:

  • Red admiral butterflies search for overwintering sites.

Stacked

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

stacked stone.JPG

No, I haven’t started building the exterior walls of the manse that will one day grace the grounds of Roundrock. These are merely some stones that I regularly restack whenever I am up in the northeast corner of my woods.

The sandstone breaks through the surface of the ground in places around here. There are several large boulders that I suspect are mostly below the surface as well as plenty of smaller stones that lie about the ground.

On past visits, I have stacked these stones, like this or in other arrangements, and then I go away. It could be six months or more before I get back to the area, and generally when I do, I find the stacks knocked down. It would make sense that some critter knocked them down. But the stones are also scattered about the area, which is something that I think is beyond the abilities of mere raccoons.

What am I to make of this little mystery? Well, I suspect it’s those talking mammals again. Some years ago my neighbor to the north (where these stacked stones stand and fall) repaired small breaks here and there in the barbed wire fence between our properties and then put horses in his pasture there. His crew took the opportunity to clear some of the growth along the fence line as well. And I wouldn’t be suprised if these hard-working fellows also took the chance to kick down some stacked stones they found. Just for fun.
Okay, so that accounts for one time. But I’ve found the stones knocked down and scattered more than once. What else, then? Well, I think those talking mammals were at it again. There is an old bridle trail along here, and before I became the lord and master of the woods now called Roundrock, this trail was a thoroughfare for the local horsey set. They don’t come through here anymore (though I wouldn’t object if they did), and the trail is slowly growing over. But perhaps they cut through occasionally, and maybe they happen to kick down stacked stones they find along the way.

Or it may be local folk passing by, though I think Roundrock is sufficiently remote that few people would be casually passing through our part of the county.

Hunters? Perhaps. But why?

Anyway, this isn’t a very good photo, but some day I hope to use stones like these to face the front of my manse. We’ll have a party then.

Missouri calendar:

  • An empty box on the calendar again today. Hmmm. How about: go out and play with rocks today.

Once a Year

Friday, November 24th, 2006

As I noted in an earlier post, today has been the customary day when my family, or those remnants of it still in the area, travel to Roundrock for a campfire and weenie roast. We’ll make cloying s’mores and take lots of pictures and maybe do a little hiking and possibly even do a little work. (I’d like to get some better fencing around several more of the pines before winter makes food scarce and the deer come to munch on them.)

So perhaps as you’re reading this, Pablo will be out in the woods where he loves to be. And if he is, expect to see an account of it shortly.

Update: It is after 7:30. Normally Libby and I would be halfway to Roundrock by now, but #2 Son, Adam, is still abed. When he finally rises, he will make unreasonable demands, such as for breakfast. Then the two boys will be startled to realize that the back seat of the truck is a little confining for two grown men and a dog. So a debate will ensue as to whether they should just shoe-horn themselves in or drive separately. Angry words. Delays. Frustration.

But then we’ll be on the road. And then we’ll be at Roundrock. And all of the cares and worries of the world will drop away. We’ll do our chores, make our s’mores. Life will be good again. You’ll see!

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Another benefit of being in the woods on the day after Thanksgiving is that I can thus participate in the annual Buy Nothing Day, which is a safe and sane way to begin the approach to the holidays.

I’ve never been much of a shopper. Generally, when I head out to the mall or store, I have some specific purchase in mind, and I try to get straight to it, get my business done, and get out. Others I know tell me that they love being out in the crush of the crowd. They enjoy the energy of the day.

BUSHWA!

I think they are simply consumer culture casualties! There, I’ve said it. They are trained animals, ready to salivate at the ring of the bell. When I’ve made this observation aloud, many vigorously defend their conditioned behaviors saying I’m not in the spirit of the season or spending supports our economy or I hate America. Lame, specious arguments!

So I go to the woods instead.

Missouri calendar:

  • The box is empty again today. The open space allows for reflection.

Happy Day

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

turkey feathers.JPG

Some critter in my forest had an early turkey dinner, as signs show here.

I hope you have a nice holiday, however you choose to observe it.

Missouri calendar:

  • Thanksgiving

Tree Mysterious

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

mystery tree.JPG

Well, I’m stumped. I just can’t figure out what kind of tree this is. I’ve looked in online guides and in the several tree books I have, but nothing is quite matching. (It may simply be that I’m an incompetent researcher.)

I quickly dismissed the idea that these trees that I’ve found here and there on the north-facing slope were immature cherry trees. The leaves aren’t right. Then I wondered if it might be a hawthorn, but the leaves only come close to that.

For a while I speculated that these little trees might be black gums (also known to some as pepperidge), but when I began looking into that matter, again, the leaves betrayed me. Black gum are well known for their vivid red displays in the early fall in Missouri, but the photo above is only about three weeks old. The plant was still holding its nice, if pale, green well after the other trees in the forest had flamed out.

The best guess I have now is that it may be a farkleberry. Even that is tenuous, though. Farkleberries (which go by a half dozen other names) do grow in Missouri, and they have a delicate, bulbous white blossom in the early spring. I’m pretty sure I would have seen those before if they’d been there.

Here’s another photo that shows their branching pattern a little bit.

mystery tree 2.JPG

So do any of my gracious readers have any suggestions? I promise that if it turns out to be something that I really should have known, I will humbly admit it so.

Missouri calendar:

  • Naught for today. Seems like they could have come up with something.

Oddball

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

stone pill.JPG

Not all of the round rocks at Roundrock are round rocks.*

It’s funny (though not alarming) to me that I can be so very forgetful at the office or even in my day-to-day life about things that ought to be important to me, yet for months and months I can remember the specific location and condition of round rocks in my forest.

I unearthed the roundish rock above just above the spillway on our dam more than two months ago. I thought at the time that it would be a good one to grab and add to our slowly growing collection of keepers. At the time, however, we must have been outward bound or busy with some other project for I left it where I had found it. Then, in ensuing visits, I suppose we simply hadn’t crossed the dam to that part of Roundrock so had no occasion to grab the pill-shaped rock.

But on our last visit, as we were making our more-or-less aimless hike down the Central Valley, I surreptitiously aimed our feet in the general direction where I knew this rock was waiting for me so patiently. By the time we reached it, we were on the truckward bound leg of our walk in the woods, so I picked it up and carried the rest of the way. (It may have gone in my daypack because the truck was still more than half a mile away, as the crow flies, and they tend to fly straight, but our treks through the woods tend to meander, so that would be a long way to carry a large rock in my hand.)

When I first began posting pix of my beloved round rocks, some commentors wondered how they could have formed as they did (a concretion of a sort forming in a mineral soup) without being deformed by gravity. I noted that they were suspended in a solution (though I’m really far beyond the frontiers of my understanding the science of it), and thus they were more or less free of gravitational forces (though as I understand it, nothing is free of gravitational forces). But I babble.

Today’s image is an example of a not-so-round round rock. (You’ve seen this fellow before, by the way.) How do I account for this? Well, I don’t. I can speculate that the nucleus bit of blue shale within was an elongated shard at the time the minerals began to accumulate around it. That’s not a very satisfying explanation since many of the split round rocks we find show that their nucleus was elongated though the rock that formed around them was nicely round. Or it might be that two separate round rocks somehow merged as they were forming. That’s a tempting idea, though I think there would be a “waist” to this one if it were the case. Slicing it open might be revealing, in an oh-so-literal sense. Or it may be that gravity had some influence on this.

We have all sorts of roundish shapes to our rocks. While the vast majority of them are spherical, there are enuf oddballs (ouch!) to leave the doors of speculation open wide. See! This is why I go to the forest!

*Yes, I realize I’ve used this line before. Exactly one year ago today, by amazing coincidence.

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Today is the last day of deer season in Missouri for those using serious firepower. (Special, localized hunts, black powder, and such will still go on through the new year.) It will be safe for Pablo to go back in the forest, and I intend to do so at the first opportunity. It has been a custom of recent years for our family to go to Roundrock on the day after Thanksgiving to have a weenie roast and to make s’mores. (I don’t like s’mores, but if it means the gang will come . . .) Alas, as most of you know, one of mine is now far away in Oregon (a nice place — I’ve been there!) and another is even farther away in Kenya (and I’ll be going there). The remaining two spend much of their time in some place called Azeroth, but I may be able to pry their crabbed little fingers from the keyboards to join us. And if not, it will just be Libby and me (and maybe it’s time to begin taking Max back in the woods — we’ve had some good freezes lately, and the bugs should be less of a problem for him).

Missouri calendar:

  • Mammals seek winter shelters.