Too long since we’d been out to the woods together, but a promise of a long swim in the lake was enuf to snatch a free Sunday and make the trip. The weekend had brought a break in the heat, but the afternoon was forecasted to reach into the 80s, so a morning of work and an afternoon plunge sounded like just the plan for us.
We managed to get on the road a little earlier than normal, which meant our favorite bagelry where we regularly got breakfast was not yet opened. Rather than wait the half hour or so to indulge in some on-the-road bagels, we pushed on and settled for a fast-food-franchise breakfast an hour later.
As we approached Roundrock, all of the signs of recent rains were good. While the massive Corps of Engineers impoundment looked no fuller (and how much rain would it take to cause a rise across those thousands of acres of flat water?), it looked no less full. Many of the smaller lakes we passed were brimming with water, and when we got to our turn off, the rough gravel road held large puddles of water. Thus we hoped (as we always do) that Lake Marguerite might be fuller and holding its water.
Good Neighbor Brian — he who mows our road for fun — had thought he and his wife, Debbie, might be out to their woods on Sunday as well, so there was the prospect that we might get together, which meant that we needed to get about our chores right away. The pleasant diversion with neighbors could come at any time.
Our first task, however, was to visit the lake and see what there was to see. As we drove down through the trees toward the dam, our eyes peered through the trunks that obscured our view — abetted now by leaves on the scrub.
Alas, Lake Marguerite was no fuller either, and, in fact, it looked less full. It appeared to have dropped nearly a foot since I’d last seen it. Still, it was a sufficient puddle for a good swim later, so we were buoyed a bit.
When the USDA man had toured Roundrock with us so long ago, he had said that given the setting and the prevailing winds coming down our Central Valley, we could expect to lose up to two inches of water each day through evaporation. Since the lake was only down by perhaps twelve inches, and since the weather had been consistently dry and hot, I think we were fortunate to have the water we did. (We will have a fine lake here some day!)
Part of our visit to the lake has become a brief tour of the pecan plantation to see how the leaks below the dam are flowing. As I’ve said before, the pool that remains once all of the leaking is done has grown larger over the years, which suggests to me that the leaks are slowly being fixed. On this day the pool — though down a bit — was larger than the early days. In fact, I can judge where our sustainable high-water level is based on the grasses growing in the lakebed. Where the grasses grow thickly I know that no water has been standing for any extended time. But where bare ground is exposed, in a wide rim at the west end of the existing pool, I conclude the lake has covered that area long enuf to kill the vegetation. The fact that it is dry now can be accounted for through evaporation rather than leakage. (Or unbridled wishful thinking.) And in our stomp through the pecans (well, can I call them that?) we found dry gravel with no flowing or standing water and no sign of there having been any recently. Even the eternal pool that has formed just below the overflow drain was much diminished, suggesting it wasn’t being recharged by leakage.
We had three tasks on our agenda for the day. One, of course, was the swimming, but the other two were a bit less soothing and indulgent, though no less satisfying. One involved brain work, and the other called for muscle work. We opted to pursue them in that order for reasons that I will make clear, but I’ll tell you about them tomorrow. Or maybe the day after.
- Cricket frog breeding is at its peak.