Archive for November, 2008

Sunday splash

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

You’re welcome to point out my spelling errors on this blog. I had a grotesque one last week, and it fell to #2 Son Adam to point it out, which he did with much glee. (The word “enuf” is off limits.)


Since our observation of the crows taking the peanuts from the log at Roundrock, Libby has begun leaving peanuts on the table outside the back door of our house in suburbia. She had hoped to lure some crows there too, and at first they did come, but the more regular visitors are the bluejays, also clever corvids. These birds arrive early in the morning and clean up the table before the crows can come. Even the neighborhood squirrels will only watch from a respectful distance when the bluejays are there. And just like their crow cousins, the jays will generally swallow one peanut then carry a second one away somewhere.


My good friend Duff pointed out an article on the Discovery Channel website about a theorized meteor strike 2,300 years ago that would have caused a tsunami to wash over the land that is now greater New York City. So far, no one has found the impact crater, but plenty of other signs are being looked into. Still, as Duff points out, the people there aren’t lucky enuf to get any round rocks out of the deal.


Yesterday was the deadline and tomorrow is the delivery of the next edition of the Festival of the Trees over at A Neotropical Savanna. Be sure to head over there tomorrow and spread some love for our forest friends.

UPDATE: It seems that Mary of A Neotropical Savanna is having some internet connectivity issues down there in Panama where she lives. The antenna her community uses to connect to the internet was damaged by a recent storm. As a consequence, the next edition of the Festival of the Trees may be delayed a couple of days.


M and C are building a house. And what is at the center of every home? No matter where you roam. Be it ever so humble.


In the past, I dismissed my thoughts on this matter as simple paranoia, but now I’m thinking I’m observing an actual phenomenon. My comments on many of your sites are not appearing sometimes. I’ll make my usual clever, erudite, insightful, or inciteful comment, and everything seems to fall into place properly, but when I return to your post later to see who else has commented, I often find that mine hasn’t appeared (though others’ subsequent comments have).

I have three theories to explain this. One is that my comments are being deleted because they are simply too stupid. Another is that I’m doing something wrong in the process of posting the comment. A third is that there really is a great conspiracy against me. Regardless, I feel as though I’m visiting and commenting on your site as often as ever, but the evidence seems to be slipping away.


What’s Pablo reading now? I’m still reading Nuns and Soldiers by Iris Murdoch. Intelligent, mannered, cultured, reasonable, well spoken, polite, high achieving, thoughtful. I love reading about lives so much different from my own!

Missouri calendar:

  • Milkweed pods open.

Today in Missouri history:

  • Writer, humorist, and social critic Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) was born in Florida, Missouri (pop. 100) on this date in 1835. He was proud that he had increased the population there by one percent.

Ready to fall

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

These happy looking fungi are growing up the side of a tree just inside the entrance to Roundrock. Some years ago, when my neighbor’s prairie grass fire got out of his control and swept into my forest a little bit, this tree was one of the casualties. It’s hung on over the years, but the extent of the fungus on it tells me that it doesn’t have long to live.

That’s all part of the natural order of things. It’s not an especially desirable tree, and if it did fall to the ground it could begin transferring all of the solar energy it has collected over its many decades into other uses in the forest.

The problem is that if it does fall to the ground, it will block the entrance to Roundrock. We may arrive there some day and find the road blocked. We’re equipped for that challenge, of course, but who wants that hassle when there will probably be other things on the agenda that day? (Worse, what if we arrived down at our woods to find the tree had fallen and some interloper had cut a path through it?)

So as I sit here in the comfort of my home in suburbia, I imagine that my next chore on my next visit will be to take down this tree deliberately. Such a task would be a good one when #1 Son Seth is around. Of course when I next get out to the woods, I may have a fresh look at the tree and change my mind. One problem is that the direction of its lean is toward the maple I have planted near the entrance. In defiance of the forest gods, this maple is actually doing well. I’d hate to bring a dead tree down on it.

Of course a skilled woodsman can pretty much control the direction of a tree’s fall. But the qualifier there — and I’m sure you didn’t miss is — is the “skilled woodsman” part. The one time Seth and I did take down a large tree, it didn’t fall where we had intended. In fact, it fell in the opposite direction. So we’ll see what we will do with this one. I’m sure I’ll tell you all about it.

Missouri calendar:

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

Today in Missouri history:

  • The Monsanto Company was founded in St. Louis on this date in 1901.
  • Actor Don Cheadle is born in Kansas City on this date in 1964.

Buy Nothing Day

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Once again National Buy Nothing Day has come around. Of course I’m an iconoclast, and I urge you not to participate in the national frenzy of today. C’mon, be a culture jammer. Don’t be a consumer culture casualty. Make a gesture to the world!

No one listens to me, though, so I won’t exhort you any further.

I will point out that one year ago I was exhorting you.

Two years ago I was also exhorting you, though less directly.

Missouri calendar:

  • The Missouri Natural Events Calendar is blank for today.

Today in Missouri history:

  • Carl Wimar died on this date in 1862 at the age of 36. He was a painter of great promise whose pioneering work among the Plains Indians was among the first to document their lives. His paintings grace the dome of the Old Courthouse in St. Louis.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Missouri calendar:

  • Thanksgiving

Today in Missouri history:

  • Don Manuel Perez, the last Spanish-native governor of Spanish Missouri, took office in San Luis des Illinois (St. Louis) on this date in 1786.

This year’s order

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

The Missouri Department of Conservation seedling order form has been online for more than ten day, but you haven’t seen me make a post about all of the trees I’ve ordered this year. That’s because I didn’t order any trees this year.

I ordered shrubbery instead. Next year at this time I may be singing a different tune, but right now I think I’ve planted about all of the trees I have room for at Roundrock. The pecans grace the acre of open land below the dam — at least in the parts of the rocky ground there that can support trees, which I’ve learned about through years of failed replantings. And the good soil area in the formerly called Blackberry Corner is packed with shortleaf pines, which are doing quite well. That doesn’t leave much open space left for planting in the 80+ acres.

I’ve thought that if the Conservation Department offered Red Maples one year, I would order a bunch or two of those and just plant them randomly about the forest to increase the plant diversity. (I did this with some leftover pines this last spring.) I might even prepare some areas for Red Maples if they were available. So far, though, the Conservation Department hasn’t offered them.

So I’m planting shrubbery this year. My eye is more toward wildlife benefit. First I’ve ordered 25 Wild Plum seedlings. These are native to Missouri and provide both cover and food for the wild things. Their fruits are even edible by humans. They grow fast but need full sun. Fortunately, one of their associated species is Eastern Red Cedar. I have plenty of that, and I wouldn’t mind cutting down some of it to open a place in the forest for the Wild Plums.

The other plant I’ve ordered is American Beauty Berry. Another native to the state, it is also fast growing and will do well in shade, so that gives me more planting options. Go to that link to have a look at the cluster of berries the plant will display in the fall. The berries are an important wildlife food source in the early winter, and best of all, they are favored by Bobwhite quail, which I’ve long wanted to nurture in my woods.

So this April I will have delivered to my door 50 plants to put in the ground at Roundrock. The whole thing, including delivery, will cost me a mere $22.00. The critters will get better conditions. I will be kept busy. And you’ll benefit from some posts this spring about my adventures. Everyone wins.

Missouri calendar:

  • Red admiral butterflies search for overwintering sites.

Today in Missouri history:

  • John C. Fremont, later a Civil War general and the first Republican candidate for President, made a bad choice on this date in 1848 and misled an expedition of discovery in the Rocky Mountains into a howling storm and camp of starvation. Eleven men and uncounted mules died because of Fremont’s foolhardy insistence on exploring in the winter.

A green thing

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

This photo is a little old given the season, but a splash of green is always welcome. I took this shot more than a month ago when there was still some green in the Ozark forest. I don’t know what kind of tree this is, though I have them here and there at Roundrock.

I suspect it is some variety of a hawthorn. Most hawthorns have leaves shaped similar to a maple leaf, and you can see that this one does not. There is a variety of hawthorn, though, called the Cockspur thorn (Crataegus crus-galli) that has spoon shaped leaves like in this photo. Hawthorns also have thorns on their branches, and though this one did seem to have something thorn-like, but it wasn’t much like what I’ve seen on hawthorns I have known. The bark looked right, but that could group it into several tree types. I’ve also never seen any flowers on these odd trees of mine, and if they are hawthorn trees, this one would have had fruit on it at the time I visited.

Some day I’ll have to get more serious about identifying the trees in my forest.

Missouri calendar:

  • The Missouri Natural Events Calendar is blank for today.

Today in Missouri history:

  • Sam Hildebrand, one of Missouri’s most dreaded outlaws, began his career as a Confederate bushwacker with no purpose other than to kill his enemies. He is said to have killed more than 100 men. The Union militia was ordered to capture and execute him on this date in 1863, but he eluded them.
  • Composer Virgil Thompson was born in Kansas City on this date in 1896.

Cast in stone

Monday, November 24th, 2008

I have round rocks by the hundreds at Roundrock, but I don’t pay much attention to the many fossils that are there as well.

This one stood out when I saw it. I’m not sure just what is fossilized here. Coral? Sponge? Some thickly veined leaf? Actually, it looks as though there are two fossils here: the latticed item on the left and the star-shaped item on the right.

This is not a facile fossil to research. I found a few online fossil identification sites, but it seems that you must know what kind of fossil you’re looking for, and then they will display an example of it for you. Good for them but not for me.

If you have any clue, I’d be glad to hear it. Otherwise, simply enjoy.

Missouri calendar:

  • The Missouri Natural Events Calendar is blank for today.

Today in Missouri history:

  • The King of Ragtime, Scott Joplin, was born on this date in 1868. One of his most famous tunes, The Maple Leaf Rag, was named for a nightclub where he performed in Sedalia, Missouri.
  • Positive thinker Dale Carnegie is born in Buffalo, Missouri on this date in 1888.

Sunday stories

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

More than a week into serious deer hunting season in Missouri, and I did not go down to the woods this weekend. Actually, deer season has been open in one fashion or another since the middle of September and won’t fully end until the middle of January. Archery season began on September 15 and only ended last week, though it will open again on this Wednesday and run through January 15. Youth deer season (age of hunters, not deer) was the first weekend in November and will occur again the first weekend in January. Muzzleloader season begins on Friday and runs through December 7. And hunters after antlerless dear can hunt them between December 13 through 21. I’m really only worried about the current firearms season, which ends on Tuesday.


Somewhere I’d recently read that purple coneflowers are becoming endangered. The article said that people are wrenching the plants out of the ground to get the roots, which are used for herbal cold remedies (without any clinically proven effects).

I have a few native purple coneflowers coming up at Roundrock, but they’re not numerous despite having textbook conditions. We also had a pot of them on the the deck back in suburbia, and we harvested the seed heads to disperse on Libby’s Island. We have two more seed heads we can take down there, which I hope to do soon.


You have until Saturday to make your contributions to the next edition of the Festival of the Trees, hosted this month by Panama-based A Neotropical Savanna. Send your links to panamaplants (at) gmail (dot) com. Be sure to put FOTT or Festival of the Trees in the subject line.

We’re always looking for new hosts. It’s an easy was to drive traffic to your site as well as meet all sorts of interesting bloggers from around the world.


Just filled up the gas tank for $1.49 per gallon. I understand the Kansas City area has some of the lowest gas prices in the nation. Still, I’m glad to hear reports that people are still tending to conserve.


What’s Pablo reading now? I have a large window of opportunity since I don’t have a book group commitment for a while, so I’m indulging in a long work by one of my favorite authors: Iris Murdoch. I’m reading her novel Nuns and Soldiers, which appears to be about unrequited love. Some of you may recall me mentioning a long time ago that I am reading Murdoch’s novel’s in the sequence she published them. She wrote 26 novels, and this one is number 20. I’ve often asked myself what I will do when I’ve read all of her novels, and I answer myself by saying that I’ll just start at the beginning again.

Missouri calendar:

  • The Missouri Natural Events Calendar is blank for today.

Today in Missouri history:

  • Lloyd Crow Stark was born on this date in 1886 in Louisana, Missouri. He served in various capacities in the state, eventually rising to governor. Under his tenure the Democratic legislature enacted much progressive legislation, and it was under Stark’s influence that the corrupt Pendergast political machine in Kansas City was finally crushed.

Saturday Matinee – 11.22.2008

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

Turkey sounds @ Yahoo! Video

Last time we were out at Roundrock, busy working among the pines, old tom turkey was just beyond the trees, screeching like he was crazy — crazy with love, I imagine.

You can see from the video that we were in tall grass, which had to obscure our presence, and the turkey was just on the other side of the trees. It raised quite a ruckus for a while, drawing close to us, and I thought I could record some audio with the chance that he might emerge from the trees.

Of course about the time I drew fort the camera, the turkey stopped making so much noise. You can hear him screaming in the first couple of seconds of the video, and at 15 seconds you can hear him gobble if you listen closely.

I kept the camera recording, hoping he would start making noise again, but he didn’t. You will hear a series of gunshots near the end. We heard those all day long, and I suppose several hunters were seeing how well their gunsights were lining up in anticipation of opening day the following morning.

Missouri calendar:

  • The Missouri Natural Events Calendar is blank for today.

Today in Missouri history:

  • Legendary horse rider Tom Bass died on this date in 1934. Born a slave in Missouri six years before the Civil War, he went on to become a friend to presidents and potentates.


Friday, November 21st, 2008

This tree sits just beside the entrance to Roundrock. I’ve probably passed it hundreds of times, but it was only on my last visit — on the way out of Roundrock — that I noticed it for the first time. (Okay, it’s about twenty feet onto my neighbor’s property, but still . . .)

Do you see a face in this tree? I didn’t at first. I was just trying to get a picture of a gnarled tree, deformed by the barbed wire that was wrapped around it in the past. (You can still see some of it on the right side near the top.) But #2 Son Adam immediately said he saw a face when I showed him the photo. Now I do as well.

This is an example of a pareidolia, though unless it’s some unnamed forest god, I don’t think it looks like any “recognized deity.” Apparently humans evolved with the ability to recognize faces as a survival technique. Unfortunately, that ability sometimes gets put to use in incorrect situations.

(If you go to that link above, be sure to scroll down and notice the tree that looks like a person bowling. We all know it’s actually a thong tree.)

Missouri calendar:

  • Mammals seek winter shelters.

Today in Missouri history:

  • Dr. William Beaumont was born on this date in 1795. He was post physician at Jefferson Barracks in Missouri and later president of the St. Louis Medical Society. Early in his career he made groundbreaking discoveries in human digestion because of his famous patient whose shotgun wound to the stomach never fully healed and allowed Beaumont to make first-hand observations of the stomach’s operations.
  • Jazz vocalist Coleman Hawkins is born in St. Joseph, Missouri on this date in 1905.