I woke up at 4:30 am for the reason most older people wake up sometime between (and sometimes more often than once between) midnight and dawn. That taken care of, I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I picked up one of Allan Mallanson’s “Matthew Hervey” military history novels, Words of Command, and tried to figure out where in the book King George dies. It’s not my favorite of the series, but I knew the king died in there somewhere because at one point Matthew (then a brevet colonel) is summoned to Windsor and meets the king, and in another he’s wearing a black armband. Then I tried sleep again, and then it was 6 am and I closed my eyes for two seconds and it was 8:20. Age is wonderful, right?
Today’s project was to measure the distance of two particular trail segments with the measuring wheel, something I’ve avoided because of the heat and sultry air. But today, I knew, we had a front coming in and it was supposed to be quite cool, in the upper 50s at dawn. It was no longer dawn at 8:20. I went out as soon as I could, having downed a glass of milk, and started off, trailing the wheel backwards from my left hand and using the bamboo pole in my right for cadence. Out through the two gates of the north horse lot (yard to horse lot, horse lot to Near Meadow), down to the natural drainage and then the Old Ditch and then up, up, up, the steady but low slope to the Dry Woods and along their east side (past a lot of black vultures perched in both dead and live trees, all of them agitated by me walking past them 5 to 20 yards away, silly birds) up to the north fence and its mown trail. Then I began my measuring.
To the right, the east, under the line of live oaks (trunks on the far side of the fence, alas) to the single post oak and all the way to level with the gate, recessed, for highway access. And beyond, in the narrowing space between the property fences..until there was a prickly pear cactus right in front of me. I declined the last five feet, pivoted my wheel, and went back up slope toward the highest part of the dry woods “hump.” It was a great morning for walking, clear and just chill enough that the upward slope warmed me enough but not into a sweat. At the View Corner, where the west side of the dry woods meets the north fence, I turned into the Fox Pavilion trail that heads down into the dry woods and where I found the black vultures had re-gathered to discuss how annoying I was. They flup-flup-flupped loudly again, clearly annoyed at the lack of consideration I displayed. I refilled the wildlife waterer there, then turned the water off and went back to the north.
One last glance out the View Corner (lovely!) and down the north fence to the west, toward the creek, under two huge old live oaks, and between two banks of brush, so-called. Roughleaf dogwoods, elbow-bush, western soapberry, interspersed with occasional hackberry or cedar elm or oak saplings. No black vultures this time. I was headed for “the blue chairs”–two plastic chairs moved from their former location under a nice shady juniper when the juniper died, and now installed under a big old live oak much closer to the creek. I’d already measured this section, but I was running the wheel anyway, because I wanted a measure of my entire walk *except* the walk up to the start point of the east end. From the blue chairs (where I sat down briefly), I started out of the fencerow into the west grass, on the Diagonal Trail, a trail that runs from partway down Center Walk directly to the convergence of trails at Tractor Ford, the northernmost of our ways across the creekbed. So called because you can actually get a truck or tractor across there. Benefits on that trail included little bluestem, a brilliant magenta spike-shaped flower stem whose name, tonight, escapes me (and will reappear the moment I hit “Publish,” probably, and a bird in rapid flight I couldn’t ID. Little bluestem, Indiangrass, lots of King Ranch Bluestem, some Silky Bluestem, some of which had lost its silky ethereal but retained a glowing white tip. A lot of fresh air, with a clear blue sky, wind out of the N, birds hanging high up and circling. (Liatris, or blazing star, is the plant’s name. Some years I’ve seen Gulf Fritillary and Monarch butterflies nectaring on it, but the schedules are off now, as they are for frostweed.
Since I started late, and came in late (stopping to make notes on the measurements takes time), I had a late breakfast/early lunch combo at 11:30ish, 2 eggs and 2 oz of thin beef cut up into the eggs as they cooked, eaten between two slices of brown bread. Very satisfying. Didn’t take any pictures today, because handling the measuring wheel, notebook, pen, and my trusty walking staff was *enough*. Tomorrow’s land chore is taking a machete to the giant ragweed. Took the daily nap, got up, talked to R awhile, ate a little cottage cheese, fed horses and had one of Tigger’s too-common “But I have to go see about *that*” reactions that leaves his feed tub unguarded so Rags immediately goes over and starts gobbling it, too. It was cows again. Cows in a slightly different location. Same cows (to my eyes) but Tigger was at the fence, ears pricked, eyes bugging out. Cow TV and Goat TV enthrall him. Carried his tub out to him and again he ate a little and Rags moved in the moment he stepped away. ARGH, OTOH when I followed them to the south fence and stood by Tig as he stared, he let me pet his head without flicking his ears or jerking away. Progress. Supper: a half cup of cottage cheese with a cup of chopped carrot and celery and an oz of cooked chicken…and a large dollop of picante sauce.
Checked email and found an important message, started to deal with *that* and had a call from a dear friend whose cellphone doesn’t like my landline and cuts out regularly. We took turns calling each other back when that happened. Still have things to answer, things to get done, and tomorrow I really do need to get to the county seat for a flu shot. Would rather be here and chopping giant ragweed, but…would rather not get flu this year, too.