When we set out for the distant bit of southern boundary, we first had to cross the lake dam. The grass was as tall as our hips, and it was obvious that no deer or other critters had moved through it ahead of us. Normally, this would mean we would be covered with ticks by the time we came out at the other end, but that wasn’t the case.
I’m not sure why the grass on the top of the dam is tick free (relatively). It could be that because we mow it twice a year, the ticks don’t find it favorable habitat. Or it could be that because so few other critters seem to cross it, the tick that have posted themselves there have not flourished.
Whatever the reason, we emerged from the tall grass on the other side with only a couple of ticks each on our pants. These we dispatched quickly. And then it was time to climb the north-facing slope. We simply had to continue up this slope until we came to the fence that marked half of our southern property line. Then we would turn right and follow the fence to where it ended. At this point we would begin using the posts we were carrying to mark the unmarked line.
Our trouble was with Seth, who carried five poles on his shoulder. (I carried two like walking sticks, and Libby carried the loppers.) There are plenty of low branches to slip under or around in this part of the forest, and Seth continued to get hung up in these. His normal, even tempered nature was getting tested, and he was frustrated, both with the hang ups and our slow pace. He was also sneezing more frequently. Eventually he just walked past us and blazed his own trail through the trees.
He got to the end of the fence before us and waited. When we caught up, he seemed more irritable than ever. He was also sneezing more than ever. Obviously, something was in bloom and Seth was allergic to it. I suspect it was something oakish.
We had a finite number of posts but an indeterminate space of forest to spread them across. We could start slamming them into the ground every twenty feet only to find we didn’t have enuf to finish the whole stretch. Instead we placed them as far apart as we could while still being able to see the last one we placed. (The trees have leafed out since we were last by tying survey tape to the trees.) When we reached the point where we could see the last of the posts we had placed on our earlier mission from the west, we still had three posts left. So we did what anyone else would have done on such a hot and humid Ozark day. We found a big log and sat down, pulling water bottles from the daypack and slurping away.
A little rest and a little water make a big difference. Even Seth, who was still sneezing, had calmed down. Unfortunately, his left eye was about swollen shut.
It became our plan, at that point, to finish our work, wolf down our lunch, then skedaddle back to suburbia where he would get some relief. (We had thought about swimming in the lake, but we feared the water was still cold below the surface.) It really was too hot for any more work. What we did, then, was find three spots between the posts we had set to set the remaining posts. The soil here is comparatively good, so driving the posts was easy. I think we spent more time trimming the branches of the trees around the posts — to make them more visible to someone wandering the woods — than we did driving them.
When we were finished, we still had about a half mile hike back to where we left the truck. Most of it was in the woods, so Seth didn’t get any respite, but when we came to the part of the lake that had become dry, he changed quickly. I’d guess that just as much oak pollen (or whatever it was) would be in the air in the lake bed as in the forest, but that didn’t seem to be so.
We did wolf our lunch, though I took time to savor my iced tea (unsweetened, of course) while Seth climbed into the truck and turned on the air conditioning, hoping to get some relief.
On the drive home we stopped at the big truck stop and I got him some antihistamine. It worked, and it had the added benefit of putting him to sleep. He’s all better now, and I guess there are going to be some times of the year when he can’t be out at the woods with us.
- Young bald eagles begin fledging.
Today in Missouri history:
- Trusten Polk was born on this date in 1811. His inauguration ceremony as Missouri governor was the longest on record (no one could find a Bible to swear on), and his tenure as governor was the shortest â€“ only eight days â€“ because he was selected by the state congress to fill a vacant senate seat.