There really was a restaurant east of Kansas City in an old river town named Lexington that was called the Peckerwood Cafe. It was originally a watering hole along the Santa Fe Trail, though if you are from Kansas City it is an article of faith that the Santa Fe Trail (and the California Trail and the Oregon Trail) began in Kansas City. (And don’t even get a true Kansas Citian started about how St. Louis stole the title of “Gateway to the West.” Pah!) So a watering hole on the Trail that is east of Kansas City is a bit of a conundrum. (And by watering hole I mean watering hole literally. A spring rises from the base of the cliff beside the cafe.)
The inconvenient fact is that the Santa Fe Trail began in a Missouri River town called Franklin, about a hundred miles east of what would eventually become Kansas City. Much of the traffic along the trail did pass through Kansas City, but there were so many branches off the trail that parks and historic sites all over the city display wagon ruts from trail trekkers. Sigh.
The Peckerwood Cafe was never much more than a greasy spoon, at least to hear the talk about it. By the time I could convince Libby to go to a place with a name like that, it was closed. The restaurant had been in a certain family for decades, and the two spinster sisters who were nearly the end of the family line kept it open for as long as they could. As a way to ensure its survival, they made a contingency in their will that their nephew would not inherit their fortune unless he kept the place open. Apparently the phrasing was such that he could open it one day a year to satisfy the terms of the will. So he has a big party once a year, but I’ve never been invited.
Which is a long way from the point of this post, which is the tree in the photo above. As you can see, this tree has also been a cafe of sorts for the woodpeckers at Roundrock. It sits beside the road where we usually park, and when I came upon it I was surprised that I hadn’t noticed the holes before. They are not fresh holes but have been through at least one winter.
Holes like this tell me that the tree is or was full of insects. This, in turn, tells me that the tree may not be upright much longer. This could be a problem since it could fall across the road. It’s not so mighty a tree yet that I couldn’t cut it up with my trusty Husky (or even the bow saw I always bring along) if that did happen, but it would be an inconvenience.
I am glad, though, that the forest is in tune so that the woodpeckers can thrive. It makes me think that my benign neglect is part of my stewardship.