In order to devote the proper time to hydrating ourselves, we jumped in the truck and drove a mile or so over to the property of one of the other land owners, sipping our drinks the whole way. He and I had worked together in the early years to get the roads improved and to discuss what to do about interlopers. I hadn’t seen his property in at least a year, and I know he’s been having ongoing problems keeping his lake from leaking away. (His lake is on top of the ridge and he has hardly any watershed feeding it. Leaking is not his big problem; filling is.) My neighbor wasn’t there when we drove through, but he’s been building a connected series of buildings that he is making look like an old western town. It’s really imaginative and clever.
By the time we got back to our bit of woods, we were fully hydrated again and so changed into our swimming gear. From time to time we could hear the rumble of thunder from far away, but the sky overhead was blue and clear, and Libby suggested the sounds might be coming from jets flying over to have a look at us changing our clothes.
We stumbled down to the lake and waded in without hesitation. The level is down at least a foot from full pool, and the leaking seems as vigorous as ever, but some rains in recent days have kept it recharged. I think it could drop another ten feet and we’d still have enuf water for swimming.
My first task upon entering the water was to fetch Peregrine the floating log and accompany it to the north side of the lake where I’ve been setting it free to watch its peregrinations. Peregrine was nudging the dam, not too far from the overflow spillway. No water has gone over the spillway in weeks, so I don’t think the log was drawn there from moving water. My guess is that it is blown to the east by the prevailing wind coming down the Central Valley. Perhaps three quarters of the old log floats below the surface of the water, which doesn’t give the wind a lot of purchase, but two weeks is plenty of time to move the log across the lake.
We didn’t do much but paddle around in the warm water. I tend to visit most areas where there is shoreline because I can get a closer look at what’s growing up on the land that way (without the bother of walking through the tick-laden scrub to get there). This is the season of the yellow and orange flowers. (That butterfly weed you see above is growing on the rocky outcrop on the north side of the pecan plantation. Very eye catching when seen from up on the dam.) I spotted what looked like hummingbirds working some tall flowers on the north shore, but when I tried to float close to them — doing my best imitation of a log — they flitted away. The hummingbird moths working the flowers on the dam were not so skittish and let me float very close.
I swam/waded to the many new "islands" that are forming around the willows that grow in the shallower parts of the lake. This is really kind of depressing for me since they are so difficult to eradicate and they break the unbroken expanse of the water that I like to see. Many of these willows were looking a bit ragged though. I suppose it could just be a reaction to the heat, but they looked droopy. Could this be a sign that they are giving up the fight to spoil my fun?
The dragonflies were thicker than ever. Females were depositing their eggs in the water in sudden, swooping flights, and I think the fish in the water were feeling frustrated because they couldn’t react fast enuf to snatch the dragonflies in the instant they made contact with the surface of the water. Even so, we saw many ripples in the lake caused by frustrated fish feeding frenzy.
The hours passed. We floated about. The big clouds were massing themselves to the west. Among them, Libby spotted the crescent moon, which seemed odd so high in the sky in the middle of the day. She wondered if an eclipse was pending. It turns out one is, Friday.
- Watch for young hummingbirds at feeders.
Today in Missouri history:
- In the treaty of Edwardsville of 1819, the Kickapoo Indians trade their lands east of the Mississippi River for lands in southwest Missouri.
- The great national Railroad Strike of 1877 ended on this day in St. Louis. Unlike in other major cities, the strike in St. Louis was mostly nonviolent â€“ despite armed citizen vigilante groups â€“ and resulted in some gains for the workers.
- Baseball player Casey Stengel was born in Kansas City on this date in 1890.