Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I Took A Walk This Evening

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I got home before sundown for a change this evening. It was a grey-blue-grey day with colder temps promised for tomorrow. It was just not right to waste an hour of pleasant temperature, bug free, winter woods walking so I grabbed a slice of white bread and stepped out onto the front porch. I glanced left and right, the coast was clear...no dogs in sight.

I headed down the path to the pond.

(You may want to refer to the map from time to time)

At the pond, I walked out onto the dock, sat down legs dangling, and flicked bits of bread on to the water's surface. Countdown...1...2...3..splurp! Bread gone. The bluegills were hungry. I fed the entire slice, bit by bit until at last it was gone. Incredibly, no dog had tracked me down and begged bread.

With the bread now building fish muscle, I dusted the crumbs off and walked north along the pond until I hit the driveway. The oaks were alive with warblers and cardinals and I noticed my first winter robins in the brush.

The driveway would just take me back to the house, so I headed west through the woods along a little gokart trail the kids had made. The trail took me through oaks until I wound up behind the pistol range. The deer had been busy foraging along the range backstop, their tracks covered the sandy mound. I looked for arrowheads since it had rained lightly this morning, but alas...none.

The trail beckoned, so I walked to the planted pines in the southwest corner and paused where best dog Ranger lies between two longleaf pines. I had not walked the south fence line in a while, so I patted the pines where Ranger's atoms now reside and moved east along the fence.
This fence. Could it be 20 years since Ranger and I camped on this vacant woodland, in freezing temps, while we strung fence on our new land? Any way you cut it, 1986 really was 20 years ago.

I checked the progress of some young cedars and black cherries that I had planted along the fence last year. The cedars were fine, but some of the black cherries were deer chomped. Situation normal...

In the open area between the pigs and the south fence, I followed a gopher tortoise trail through tall grass down into the oak forest that flows east to the swampy southeast corner. It was here that I stopped to admire some glossy black sparkleberries (farkleberries?) and decided to gather a few things to lay on the scanner when I got back to the house.

I looked around for volunteers...some red bay leaves, lichen, a water oak, that tall blue grass, cedar, smilax, yaupon...then I stopped...what was that sound? The dogs were tracking me, I could hear them coming through the woods following my scent.

I crouched down behind a palm until they were on me, but not aware of me. I jumped up and growled, they started, barked and ran back a few feet before wagging tails signaled recognition. I love messing with their heads.

After that, my pack and I worked our way down to the pond where we grabbed a few holdout cypress leaves and a pinch of empty blue curls seed cups.

We were back to the dock. Circumnavigation complete.

The dogs ran ahead as I walked up the path to the porch.


Rurality said...

Nice collection. I've got to figure out what a sparkleberry is, so I can see if we've got any here.

Floridacracker said...

Vaccinium blah,blah

All my field guides are in storage due to remodeling.

Small shrubby tree, 8' tall, here it is first to flower in the spring, clusters of white blossoms. I carve canes from it.

Hick said...

Lovely post. I got a good laugh when you hid from your dogs. I hide from my dog all the time, but she's getting smarter and knows most of my hiding places. When I was growing up we used to play hide n seek with the dogs in the forest at Lake Tahoe. One person would hold the dogs (poodles...don't say anything... they are good trackers) and the rest of us would try to hide from them. They always found us.

vicki said...

Beautifully written post, FC. Really, really nice. I felt like I was along for the walk. And a fine pile of collectibles.

We have our best cat, 21 year old Velcro, resting beneath a large marble rock in the garden and sometimes I think that could be one of the hardest pieces about moving away.

I am completely smitten with the bug free winter weather in Florida. We had our windows open every night we were at the Florida house.

roger said...

thanks for taking us along while you ducked out on the dogs. a nice ramble on cracker acres.

The MacBean Gene said...

Made me kinda homesick for the palmentto and pine.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks, I am really enjoying your photo travel blogs lately.
Picturing Poodle pursuit...
Poodles? (snicker)

Thanks, I know it would be hard to say goodbye again to your best cat. As for this great winter weather, we will pay for it this summer with 100% humidity and heat.

Anytime. You are always welcome to come along.

There's plenty down here if you ever need any :)

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Such a fine walk through your woods, FC. It's good to get out there and take stock like that. I like the rhythm of this walk and what you saw.

The collection on the scanner is great. I love that new medium.

Floridacracker said...

Thank you. The scanner is fun to play with. I am still learning what scans well and what doesn't, but obviously leaves work well and surprisingly items do not have to be flat. Such cool toys we have these days.

benning said...

Yeah, I remember how funny it was to mess with the pooch's head. LOL

Still miss my dog. That was nearly 30 years ago I had my dog put to sleep. Haven't had another since. Must be too darned wussy, huh?

Nice post! Nice picture!

doubleknot said...

I enjoyed your walk - felt like I was right with you. I can't walk much any more and reading a good post is the next best thing.
Oh, those fish sound so good. I haven't been fishing in a while now but plan on it when my fishing partner gets well.
These past few years have been the only time I have not had a dog. My last one was from a litter of a dog my mother literally put in my yard - she was a furry thing and it took me two days to clip the knots of matted fur off of her. Back to her litter - there was one that was different from the others - I think the neighbor dog got in there somehow - this little thing was very timmid and I kept saying that she had to go to a home that didn't have children - maybe an older couple. I started calling her Presious and after two years of saying I had to find the right home for her decided she had the right home right there with me.
Thanks for your posts this old Florida gal really enjoys reading them.

Wayne said...

Glenn and I have long tried to figure out the farkleberry/sparkleberry names. Early in the season, the berries are a bluish white, which might suggest a sparkle, but later they turn black, as you say. But FarkleberryFarms.com didn't sound right to us.

That early evening walk around the premises is something I love to do too. It's a comforting routine.

yncwxn - don't struggle or you'll get sucked down!

Floridacracker said...

Dog memories last the longest.

I am so glad you get enjoyment from my rambles. Hope you and your partner are fishing soon.

Shiny leaves too (sparkle?). Yes, Farkleberry is not as lyrical a name as Sparkleberry.

rgvny = toupee wearing Vincent

OldHorsetailSnake said...

A very pleasant (and pleasantly described) stroll, Cracksman. Thank you kindly for it.

(P.S. "deep space arm extender." Very funny, man.)

Floridacracker said...

Thanks, I get a cut of your millions if the deepspace arm extender is successful.

Thunder Dave said...

Ranger was a good old dog!

Floridacracker said...