On Sunday, the whole family went out to Roundrock. There were nine of us, well, twelve, actually. Four of them had never been to our woods before, but to have all of them collected in any one place at the same time is an event, even more so to have that place be the woods and waters of Roundrock.
Our party consisted of Libby and me, our daughter Rachel and her most excellent husband Travis, #1 Son Seth, #2 Son Adam and his girlfriend Nina, and #3 Son Aaron and his wife Amber (the best thing that ever happened to him!). Also, and for the very first time ever, Crusher, Queequeg, and Flike went to the woods with us!
For some reason, the kids wanted to see the new cabin, cook their lunch over a campfire, and make S’mores. And since they were all collected in town for the holidays, and since the weather forecast suggested temperatures in the sunny upper forties, and since Sunday was the one opportunity we all had to go, we made sure all of those things happened.
We left town about two hours later than our normal time, leaving the house in suburbia at about the time we’re normally arriving at the woods, but that was fine since the temps had not found their way into the forties yet, nor had the sun found a break in the clouds. Both of those things resolved themselves to our satisfaction soon thereafter however.
The kids wanted to cook foil dinners, and this meant getting a good bed of coals established, so I had my three Eagle Scouts get going on making a fire while everyone else got busy with the tables and chairs making a sort of kitchen and dining area on the relatively flat ground behind the cabin. (Why not in the cabin? I think they may have found it a little too cold in there since the day’s sun hadn’t warmed it yet.) I flitted about betwixt this and that, supervising, kibitzing, fussing, and worrying. I wanted to make sure everyone, especially our one neophyte, Nina, was having a good time, that the dogs were not being carried off by bobcats, that the forest wasn’t going to burn down. Flike had never seen a fire before and tried to lick it (so the kids told me). Crusher, it turned out, hated smoke. He’s an urban dog living in a fourth-floor walk-up apartment in Brooklyn, so the whole woodsy adventure had him nervous. (That’s Crusher you see in the photo above. He was most comfortable there with his momma holding him.) Queequeg, being tiny but with long hair, had some trouble navigating the unlevel ground and grasping scrub though he was determined to explore. We collectively decided the pups needed to be restrained while we were cooking and burning things, so Crusher stayed with Rachel while Queequeg and Flike sat in the comparative luxury of the cab of the Prolechariot.
After lunch, we made a short hike in the woods. Amber, ever-so-politely, asked if she could collect a nice round rock to have for her very own. Well, of course she could! And I happened to know where there was an especially good one not too far away. (The late fall and early winter is not a good time to search for round rocks since the forest floor is covered with leaf litter. Amber said maybe she ought to come back in the spring to look for some, and I thoroughly approved of the idea. I hope she and Aaron can come.) So we set out, with the dogs all off leash toward the upper end of the lake. Had we gone all the way to the inlet where plenty of Ozark rock has flowed in, we very likely could have found a half dozen nice round rocks for Amber, but I knew of a good one not quite so far, and when she saw it, she was delighted. I offered to carry it for her in my backpack, but she held it lovingly in her hands the short hike to the cars.
The dogs stayed with us the whole hike (always a concern when you train your dogs to a leash). Queequeg was determined to keep up and explore despite the conspiracy of the rocks and the scrub and the deep leaf litter to slow him down. Crusher alternated between traveling under his own power and riding inside someone’s parka. Flike was glorious! He darted all about, sniffing everything, keeping up and easily bounding ahead on his long legs. (He weighs 30 pounds now!) He seemed to love being in the forest, which was my hope for him all along — to have a companion who can ramble through the woods with us.
The kids all had evening plans back in suburbia, so we left the forest earlier than the warm temps of the day required. It was a wonderful time having them all at Roundrock together. I’m already trying to convince the universe to let them collect again for another family visit to the woods.
- Beavers feed on sapling reserves.