When we last saw our heroes, they were just stumbling back to where they’d left their truck after investigating the (still) mysterious sound coming from the northeast corner of the property. Let’s see what they have to say for themselves now.
When we got back to where we’d left truck after investigating that (still) mysterious sound coming from the northeast corner of the property, we needed to decide how to spend our time next. Sure, there were plenty of chores to do, plenty of wood to be cut and brush to be cleared, plenty of this, and plenty of that, but who wants to do chores? My hope for a while has been to do no more than simply walk in the forest with my love. I just wanted to walk aimlessly through the trees with no more intent than to see whatever there was to see.
So we left the truck there in the road and struck into the forest again, this time going more or less westerly. Over the years we have crossed this part of our woods more than a few times, but I think the seasons have been different (or the direction, or the purpose, or the mood) because it seemed like undiscovered land to me, and that is a good thing. We had the loppers with us, and we would occasionally stoop to liberate a small cedar from its earthly toil or clear a way through the grasping branches of the Blackjack oaks intent on lacerating our forearms. After a fair bit of traveling I came upon a fallen tree that looked like it might serve as a seat for two weary hikers. The old log was rotted though, and I wasn’t sure it would hold. So I kicked it to get a feel for how solid it was. Immediately a loud buzzing started. One yellow and black insect emerged and began scouting around, so we gave up our idea of sitting there and moved on.
I watched for interesting sights, including round rocks, which are known to frequent this part of the forest. At one point, in a particularly open and flinty part of the forest, we spotted a sawed log on the ground. You can see it in the photo above. We see these more often in the western part of our woods, and you’ll remember that long before we came to this land, it was part of a cattle ranch. My working hypothesis is that the cowboys who worked the ranch had cut down certain trees to allow the grass to grow under them more luxuriously to feed the cattle. It was hard to imagine grass growing in the flinty ground around that area, and maybe that idea didn’t work. I don’t know.
I began to suspect, though, that we had hiked farther than I first realized. I looked about and saw some familiar landmarks, and then not too far off to our left I could see exactly what we needed: comfy chairs. We had hiked as far as our new campsite. Essentially that morning we had hiked from the northeast corner nearly all the way to the southwest corner of our woods.
The chairs knew our names and called to us seductively. We were powerless to resist and soon found ourselves leaning back and looking at the blue sky through the green leaves of the hickory tree above us. We might have fallen into a stupor there had our lunches been with us rather than in the cooler back at the truck a half mile away. We needed to eat (to keep up our strength, of course), and there was the obligatory swim in the lake, so we pushed out of the chairs most reluctantly and started back.
First we wandered over to the pond. Nothing much was happening there — or I should say, nothing much was happening that we could see– and we headed back into the forest. At this point we were close to the road that runs along our northern boundary. We could have gone over there and had an easier walk, but we wanted to stay in the trees and enjoy them. And so we did. But in what seemed like too short a time, we saw the TOYOTA pulsing red through the trees ahead. We had returned.
Lunch back at the shelter tarp overlooking the mostly full lake was quiet and reflective. We are fairly certain we saw Libby’s turtle rising to the surface of the pond periodically. It does this for a minute or two than disappears for twenty minutes, coming up elsewhere when it is ready. There was plenty of iced tea (unsweetened, of course) and some fresh cherries whose pits we cast to the ground before us. (I hope they don’t sprout. I think the critters will get them.) We skipped our customary post-lunch stupor and headed for the lake, changing clothes first though. I had run into another nest of chiggers sometime during my ramblings that day, and my pants were again covered with the minute, crawling tormentors. When I peeled down my sock I found that they had crawled through the fabric. Dozens were on the skin of my ankles. This was not good, but I hoped a swim in the lake would wash them free. I would be feeling their itch by now, and I don’t, so I think I escaped them. This time.
The lake was as fine as we expected. Peregrine had not traveled far in the week I was away. In fact, unless some heavy rains come, Peregrine won’t be going anywhere. It stranded itself on dry ground when the lake receded. The horseflies were present during our woodland walk, but they weren’t bad, nor did they bite us. Out on the lake, with only our heads above the water, they hardly knew we were there at all. I found that I could stand in parts of the lake that were over my head on past swims. This meant I could stay in one place without any effort and study the shoreline and the trees that rose form it. I enjoy seeing familiar things from new angles. We paddled about. Sometimes Libby’s path and mine would intersect. Sometimes we would drift on our own.
I don’t think we stayed in the water as long on this visit as we have on past visits. I was the first to get out. We had things to get back to in suburbia, and that was on my mind.
- Male white-tailed deer rub velvet off antlers: watch for their “rubs” on small trees.
Today in Missouri history:
- Meredith Miles Marmaduke was born on this date in 1791. He served as governor for nine months following the suicide of Governor Reynolds, and though he failed to be elected, he was the father of a later Missouri governor.
- Missouriâ€™s first state elections were held and Alexander McNair was elected Missouriâ€™s first governor in 1820.