Archive for March, 2016

holey tree post

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

pecked wood

Continuing the theme I started this week (and ending it as well), I offer this photo I took when Flike and I made our walk along the southern property line.

This, as you can see, is the work of a woodpecker, and I’m pretty sure it’s a pileated woodpecker since this is characteristic of their behavior. In fact, when I came upon this, I recalled seeing similar bored trees in this part of my forest in years past. This must be favored territory for them, which is fine since it’s far from the cabin. (Curiously, the times I’ve actually seen pileated woodpeckers, it’s been along my northern property line.)

I don’t know if this is a nesting effort of if it is for drumming out territorial calls or just practice for some juvenile. You see three bored areas here. The top two are not connected within, but the bottom two are. I think that middle hole just might be a nest entrance some day soon. I could revisit this part of the forest the next time I’m at Roundrock, but I can’t be sure I could even find this tree again. Notice how the leaves had not yet come out on the trees and scrub. I’m sure by the next time I get out there (at least three weekends hence), the landscape will look much different with greenery.

(When I look at this photo now, my eyes are drawn to that tiny cedar tree to the left of the tree. I worry that I didn’t take the time to liberate it from its earthly toil while I was there. A good reason to go back.)

holey post post

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

holey post

Only half of my southern property line, so only a quarter mile of it, is fenced. The fence terminates at the post you see above. This is a substantial post because the fence coming from the east turns at this point and continues south, so I imagine this post has a lot more tension on it than one along the line. Thus the larger post.

I’ve found evidence of visitors near this post before (and wrote about it in this humble blog long ago). I found a few beer cans beside it and, more disturbingly, many cigarette butts on the ground below it. Someone seems to have occasion to wait around here, though I’ve never seen anyone in the flesh.

But as you can see, this fence corner has had another visitor recently. A woodpecker — my guess is a pileated woodpecker — has been doing some carpentry work on the post. I suppose the bird is driven by blind instinct; it can’t have thought that this would be a suitable nesting site, could it? I understand they will drum on trees to announce their territorial claims, so maybe that’s what this is about.

In any case, it can’t do the post much good. Not only is it now opened at the top, but it has a cavity in it that further weakens it.

I had never given must consideration to this corner post before, but on this day when Flike and I made our visit, I took a closer look at it.

slim post

This post was made from a slab of wood. I tend to think of posts as being round, but this one wasn’t, and I guess it didn’t need to be since it has been standing there hold up the fence for decades.

reduce ~ reuse ~ recycle

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Busch 1

Flike and I made a trip to Roundrock over the weekend (before the weather changed and cold, wet snow fell from the sky). I had no agenda, nor did Flike, so we just rambled the woods in our time there. One of the things I like to do in the winter is to walk the fence line just to see what’s up and maybe cut some branches to show my neighbors that I’ve passed by and am paying attention. (Note: I have NEVER had any complaints about my neighbors.) On this visit, Flike and I walked most of the southern fence.

A hundred feet or so before we got there, I came upon what you see above. I could speculate how it got there, and I mean specifically there because obviously the man or woman who emptied that can dropped it (reduce). But unless that person was a hundred feet on the wrong side of a three-strand barbed wire fence, it is not likely that the person dropped it specifically there. And it seems even less like that the person could have thrown an empty beer can the hundred or so feet through dense trees and scrub to land where it was.

I sometimes find beer and pop cans near the fence lines and beside my road to the cabin. (Clearly someone else drives on my rode besides me.) It’s part of being an absentee land owner, and it really isn’t much of a hardship.

Still, how did it get where it was? But there were acres of forest to tramp through, so I just put it in my backpack and continued on my way.

It wasn’t until I got back to the cabin and was unpacking that I took a closer look at the can:

Busch 2

See the regular punctures in it? At first I thought these might have resulted from being struck by the discharge of a shotgun, but I realized the punctures would probably be more scattered and just plain more. Then it struck me that these might be teeth marks. Most likely canine incisors, such as from a fox or raccoon. (There are similar punctures on the other side of the can.) So maybe some fox found the can, smelled something interesting about it, and tried to get it opened to partake (reuse). That could account for its location far from fence flinging distance.

So another little mystery in my woods. I recycled the can.

Skywatch Friday ~ late winter dawn

Friday, March 25th, 2016

winter dawn

This was dawn, a couple of weekends ago at my little bit of forest on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks. It was still winter then, but we’d had an unseasonably mild weekend (part of an unseasonably mild winter) and we chose to spend the night at the cabin. Thus I was there at dawn to take this picture.

The lack of leaves on the trees tells you that this is a winter photo. I could not take a similar picture from that same spot now. I hope to make it out to my woods this weekend. Fingers crossed.

wordless Wednesday ~ blasted

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016


one-match fire

Monday, March 21st, 2016

one-match fire

My third son’s mother-in-law (and thus Emmett’s other grandmother) had given me three boxes of strike-anywhere matches a couple of years ago. I had understood that these were now illegal, that a substance used in them, when concentrated, could be used for bad purposes. And yet she was able to get them from a store. I suppose these are now made from some other substance that is not as dangerous, though I may be mistaken about that or even about the contraband status of the original.

Regardless, in the time that I’ve had those three boxes, I’ve probably built only a dozen fires, which is to say, I’ve barely started using even a single box of the matches. (And I generally succeed at building one-match fires. We use a lighter for the cook stove.) The boxes wait in the mouse-proof cabinet to be called into infrequent service. There are 300 matches per box, times three boxes, less a dozen or so used, equalling more than 800 still to go.

Over this last weekend, Emmett’s other grandparents had been in town to see him (as well as to see their daughter and son-in-law). His other grandmother saw me, and the first thing she said was, “I have something for you.” Then she presented me with three more boxes of the matches. (900 more!)

These matches are a handy gift for a man with a cabin in the woods, and she clearly put some personal thought into them. I see her once or twice a year, we have very little in common other than Emmett and his parents, and yet she thinks about me in this specific way and acts on it, eagerly giving me a gift that is useful and meaningful. That warms my black and shriveled heart.

By the way, Emmett is all recovered from his four days in the NICU. His lungs are cleared of the fluid and he is now home with his parents (just a half hour down the road from us). His cousin Elaheh will be coming to town in two weeks and they’ll get to meet. His other cousin, Kenneth, will, alas, be in Paris, France, then as his Daddy runs a little marathon there and his Mommy runs a half marathon in Vienna, Austria. (And if you care to know, I’ll be “running” a marathon in St. Louis the following weekend.)

yet another balloon

Thursday, March 17th, 2016


When we were just starting out on our hike the last time we were at Roundrock (more than two weekends ago!), I spotted an unlikely bit of color under a tree by the road and pushed my way through the bramble to see what it was.

And it was a spent party balloon. We’ve found these before in our woods; I think this is the fifth or sixth. Curiously, we don’t find them in the open areas. They are either deep in the woods (on the ground) or under trees. I suppose the wind is responsible for placing them, or at least pushing them along until something stops them.

There was a long ribbon attached to this one, and Libby was excited, hoping that there might be a message attached to it, like a message in a bottle. Alas, there was nothing. I don’t really want to keep finding spent party balloons in my woods, but the prospect of finding a message on one is enticing.

this just in

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Sorry I didn’t make a post yesterday. The weekend was a little chaotic here in faraway suburbia.

On Friday evening, my third grandchild, Emmett James, was born. It was, as they say, a difficult birth. Mom had been induced that morning, and things were progressing well, but then it all stopped and the doctor decided to perform a C-section to deliver the baby. I had gone to bed prior to all of this, so I woke to the good news. But by the time I was out of the shower, though, the news had gotten bad.

Emmett was having respiratory distress through the night and by morning was in the NICU, on a C-PAP and being given supplemental oxygen. He also had an IV for fluids and a tiny feeding tube down his throat. Fortunately his dad, Aaron, has a twin brother, Adam, who is a pediatrician and who is accustomed to being woken at all hours with frantic calls from new parents. This time the new parent happened to be his own brother.

Adam assured Aaron that what Emmett was experiencing was actually quite common among C-section babies. (Adam’s new daughter, Elaheh, was also a C-section baby, though she did not have any distress.) By not passing through the birth canal, they didn’t experience the compression of normal delivery, so the fluid that was in his lungs wasn’t “squeezed out.” A couple of days of care and observation and Emmett would likely be just fine.

And he is. He is off of the machines and can now be held by his parents (and grandparents) and can begin nursing. He is expected to be released from the hospital in the next day or two, and then he can go home with his parents to start his normal life.

Two years ago I lamented ever having grandchildren. Now I have three.

Skywatch Friday ~ Ozark dawn

Friday, March 11th, 2016


This was the glowing fire on the eastern horizon that greeted me last Sunday, March 6, 2016. Dawn from the dam in my little bit of forest on the edge of the Missouri Ozarks.

wordless Wednesday ~ shed shirt

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016