I didn’t really expect to see the road changed. But it was.
It was worse!
We’ve thought we should visit the county courthouse some day when it was open to get the names and addresses of the other landowners along this road. Then we could send out letters suggesting a group effort to fund a bit of road improvement. We’ve done that at the other woods with success, and the road there isn’t nearly as bad as this one.
Now I’m beginning to think that no one wants the road improved. Unless it’s wet, the road is passable as long as you go carefully. Perhaps they think this will keep out interlopers. As it was, we saw absolutely no sign of any visitors to our forty acres in the time since we’d been there, so maybe the bad road really does keep them away.
I’ve mentioned before that if you put me down blindfolded in either one of my two bits of forest (Roundrock or Fallen Timbers), I could instantly tell you where I was because of the smell. Fallen Timbers has a tangy, oaky smell, and when we pulled into our little track through the trees and rolled down our windows, I could smell that we were there! The scent was laden with memories of our hikes around Fallen Timbers, and I was eager to park the TOYOTA and see that there was to see. But first we had to stop and clear away what had convinced me that we hadn’t had any interlopers lately. Several large tree branches had fallen on the road. (Not the ones in the photo above.) Libby volunteered to move them while I idled the truck, and in a moment she had them out of the way and we continued the few hundred feet to our ridgetop fire ring and sometime campsite. I parked and we leapt out.
My Good Neighbor Max had kept this mowed for us in the past, but he hadn’t been through at least as long as the branches had been across the road, and a bit of scrub had popped up here and there. We spent a little time clearing some fallen branches from this area as well. (This is so that should Good Neighbor Max return to mow, he’ll be able to cover most of the area.)
What I really wanted to do, though, a hike away, so we got ourselves organized and struck out for the old logging road that lead to the eastern side of our woods.
The owner before me (he said it was the owner before him, but I don’t think that’s true) had logged most of the marketable timber from the land before he sold it to me. The big machines had carved temporary roads to various points in the forest, and since this was nearly a dozen years ago, nature has been busy reclaiming the open land. We had a hard time finding the old logging road, and it was when we were standing in a thicket of sumac that towered over our heads that I realized we were on the road, we were on a road that we had driven on only a few years before. The thicket is on the top of the ridge where it gets a lot of sunlight, and I guess that accounts for its luxuriant growth. Once we moved down hill a bit from there and were back in the shade of the big oaks, the old road became more evident. It was still open enuf to hike along, though driving it would be a challenge. Had we stuck with our original plan of moving to this bit of forest, we would have kept this road open because it passes the building site we intended to use. Now we’re just letting nature reclaim it.
This road leads more or less east all the way to the edge of our property and onto our neighbor’s land. One thing we’ve leared about local loggers is that they aren’t always that certain where property lines really run. It was along this bit of old logging road that we came to the impasse you see above. There’s road leading up to it and road beyond it, but that tangle of fallen limbs was more than we intended to attack on that visit, so we diverted around it, and that lead to a surprising and pleasant discovery.
We had to stomp and push through the trees and grapevines on the side of the old road to get past the tangle of fallen branches, and I happened to look down as I was extracting myself from the malevolent branches to see a small hawthorn tree growing at my feet.
Now, really long-time readers will know that before we had planted any nannyberries or button bush at Roundrock, before we had created our pine plantation, even before we had plugged our first pecan into the gravel below the dam, we had planted fifty hawthorn trees along the western property line at Fallen Timbers. That has to have been nearly a decade ago now. Regardless, that’s clear on the other side of our land. The hawthorn tree I had nearly stepped on was almost at the eastern property line, a quarter mile away. Aside from the trees we had planted, we had never seen any hawthorns in this forest. I think the one we found is a native.
I called Libby over to see what I had found, and as she pushed through the branches and vines, she came across a couple more hawthorns. It seems that we had stumbled upon a small grove of these things that had found their way into our forest on their own.
Of course they were barely two feet tall, and they were deep in the understory, shaded from the light and competing for the soil resources. But I took it all as a positive sign of the increasing diversity of our forest.
That was just a happy diversion though. My real goal of the morning was to go to the suspected Indian burial mounds and sweep them with the metal detector I had brought along, but I’ll tell you about that in my next post since this one has gotten much too long.
Today in Missouri history:
- The first issue of the Anzeiger des Westens, Missouriâ€™s first German-language newspaper, appears in St. Louis in 1835.
- The last session of the Confederate legislature of Missouri ended on this date with the articles of secession being signed by Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson.