Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Archive for the ‘Chronicle’ Category

Windy Rain

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It was a dark and stormy night last night. Really. It was! Once again, we were pressed by winds that made the house flex and bent our trees over dramatically. It boggles my mind that anything remained standing, with our soil as saturated as it is.

There are small footprints in the mossy ground from young deer making the rounds in search of our many hostas, but the perennials have been slow to sprout in the absence of a warm and sunny growing day.

Cyndie says some of her labyrinth plants are showing signs of life, so maybe the deer will munch those until the rest of our “salad bar” landscape matures a little more.

I wonder what our property would look like if we stopped tending it and simply let the elements have their way. From one perspective, we are doing a lot to achieve desired results, but at the same time, our attempts appear rather feeble compared to the power of wind, precipitation, and temperature extremes that seem to know no bounds.

Grass grows faster than I can mow it. Trees sprout where we don’t want them, and fall over in greater numbers than I can clean up after. I think that if we stopped doing anything, it would look like a jungle within a year.

Who knows what will happen in the face of a climate crisis? I expect areas other than ours will experience more significant impacts, such as coastlines from sea level rise and ever-increasing hurricanes, or areas prone to wildfires. It’s hard to say whether we will see a change in temperatures that unequivocally shifts our growing season, changing what plants thrive or suffer.

The world is already experiencing more intensity out of everyday weather events. There doesn’t seem to be much reason to expect that trend to stop, given the slow reaction of society as a whole to alter the activities that brought this all on.

We want our electricity and our transportation to always be available for the ever-increasing world population.

It just means we need to keep adjusting to the weather extremes that show up as a result of our choices.

Today, it is cold rain and gale force winds. This summer, it will probably be something different. I just hope the week I am biking and camping in June will be a calm period between any other extremes.

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Written by johnwhays

May 22, 2019 at 6:00 am

Leaves Again

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They’re ba-aack! Walking through the woods is a wonderful change when the leaves return. We’ll be breathing a whole ‘nother level of healthy air on our strolls, with tree leaves breathing again.

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Looking uphill, and down, the greenery is dramatically more noticeable with each passing day.

Hopefully, none of these new leaves succumbed to frost overnight. The incredibly wet weekend transitioned into uncomfortably cold yesterday, bringing on a frost advisory that had Cyndie covering her newly planted flowers.

I don’t want to look.

I’m going to keep my eyes on a future day when summer warmth becomes established with more than the fleeting glimpses we have been treated to thus far this spring.

At least having a forest of green leaves again is a start.

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Written by johnwhays

May 20, 2019 at 6:00 am

Barely Asparagus

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The comical story of our on-again/off-again thoughts of growing our own asparagus is becoming a legend. The idea was initially tossed out in the early days after we moved to this 20-acre plot in the country. I didn’t know anything about growing the delicious sprouts, so it was a surprise to learn it takes years to produce edible results.

For some silly reason of human nature, three years was enough to discourage us from bothering to act on the idea. Time being relative, the three long years we envisioned when originally considering growing asparagus seemed to pass surprisingly quickly.

I remember commenting that, had we just planted some when the thought first occurred to us years ago, we’d probably be harvesting already. Still, that didn’t trigger us to act, for some reason.

Then a wise friend mentioned that there were other options to planting it by seed. Why not buy a two-year-old plant and put that in the ground? Hmm. Why not?

So, we did.

It’s been a couple of years now, I think. We let it grow into ferns for a year. I have a terrible habit of forgetting about it until the sprouts are unrecognizable as the vegetable that I love to eat.

But, not this year. I spotted a couple of sprouts when I was mowing the lawn and remembered to suggest Cyndie cut them before they blossom into a fern again.

This was the entirety of our first harvest of the season:

It wasn’t much, but Cyndie made good use of just enough to accent our breakfast of home-laid eggs yesterday.

Of course, there is an obvious moral to the story. Just because some results take time, don’t wait to start.

Delayed gratification can be so much sweeter to appreciate.

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Written by johnwhays

May 19, 2019 at 9:43 am

Wetter Today

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There is nothing quite like the ripping of rain-soaked air by the high heat energy of a lightning strike that explodes in close proximity. That ever so brief searing tear of the atmospheric fabric, then accented by a concussive BOOM! that startles even though it is obviously about to happen, is the stuff of my childhood terrors.

Even some of the kabooms from farther away that don’t trigger a panic reaction are powerful enough that the walls of our house creak and windows flex. And, yes, it makes our dog bark in a faux bravery attempt to shout down the perceived threat.

We knew this stormy weather was coming. A whole weekend of it. The future predictors (meteorologists) told us about it, right down to the hours when it would be intense.

I lucked out yesterday, as the partially cloudy day stayed dry in our area, though radar indicated it was rainy just to our south. It allowed me to get the already too long grass mowed in the nick of time, and then squeak in my very first bike ride of the season.

No pressure or anything, but I did register for another week of biking and camping in June, so conditioning my butt to tolerate extended hours on the saddle is once again on my to-do list.

There are worse burdens in this world.

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Getting back out on the open road, seeing an endless ribbon of pavement rolled out before me, breathing (panting) the fresh country air, having close encounters with protective old farm dogs, waving at folks gawking at the silly human pedaling for conveyance, is both physical exercise and mental refreshment.

Feeling the wind pushing against your face, as well as from behind, since I chose to ride in a big square of all four directions, connects with the elements in a way that car travel completely eliminates.

In my current living situation, claiming hours for pedaling along idly doesn’t happen without a bigger reason to force it, so the bike trip becomes something of a cause and effect. It’s not like the old days when I would ride my bike for miles, to and from work every day. Back then, by the time June came around, I was more than prepared for day-long rides.

I am grateful that I was able to launch my road bike for its season opener on a dry day yesterday. If I am to follow that up with a second ride this weekend, it’s going to be much wetter.

Just like those future-tellers predicted.

Hopefully, I can time it so as to avoid the lightning and thunder.

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Written by johnwhays

May 18, 2019 at 7:58 am

Fun Surprise

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What could be more fun than getting together with life-long friends and heading out on a beautiful spring evening to see a Minnesota Twins baseball game at Target Field? I’ll tell you what. Discovering that your cousin from Duluth, whom you infrequently see, is at the same game and then sleuthing out his location to surprise him for a brief visit during the 7th inning.

Yes, that became my adventure the night before last. My son, Julian, brother-in-law, Steve, and four other Eden Prairie friends gathered downtown to see the Twins play game 2, of a 3-game series, against the LA Angels. It was a gorgeous night, and a delight to be out with treasured peeps to check on a team that has achieved an impressive amount of success recently, as compared to what Minnesota sports fans usually face.

As per today’s de rigueur trend, one of the guys snapped a phone selfie with the rest of us mugging around him for the shot. In an instant, our whereabouts were broadcast over the internet, where my sister, Judy, happened to see it. How many other spectators were simultaneously sharing pictures of their night at the ballpark? Well, it turns out Judy also found a post by our cousin, Charles Moulton, revealing his spectacular vantage point from behind home plate.

Suddenly my phone pings me with a message from Judy, showing me that our cousin was at the same game!

I could tell from the view in his image that we were on the same upper deck level, so Julian and I walked that direction to see if we could connect.

Since Charles had no idea we were at the game, I knew we had the upper hand in surprising him, as long as we spotted him first. It didn’t take long to confirm a sighting. He was in the first row, on the railing, and there just happened to be two open seats beside him. At the close of the sixth inning, we stealthily made our way down to the row behind him and then climbed over the back of the seats, asking, “Are these seats open?” without waiting for the answer he was politely offering.

He gave me a glance, as I smugly focused on him and not the field down in front of us, which subsequently induced a second look.

That’s when I was granted the ultimate reward of the surprise, as his face revealed the transforming expression of recognition and delight. We both had our sons with us, so there was also a meeting of second cousins. It was a real treat and a special bonus to an otherwise fabulous outing.

The Twins deserve some credit for putting on an exciting finish for the home crowd, despite the fact it was because they allowed the Angels to climb back from 4-0 to make it a one-run game. A big throw from center field to home for a lead-saving out gave us all much reason for revelry.

To top the night off, the sudden downpour of rain that popped up, waited until the game was over and we had made our way out of the stadium.

It was a wonderful week-night outing, topped with a special surprise that definitely qualified as my idea of fun!

Thanks, Judy!

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Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

Impressive Results

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I found myself inexplicably overjoyed upon reading news from Cyndie yesterday morning that “all [eight] hens ran out of coop” together when she opened the hatch. A short time later, she found them all still together, hanging out in our woods. Just as we had read would happen, after a mere two days in the “broody breaker” cage we built, the uncontrolled urge to constantly lay in a nest box has been dispatched. It worked!

The two Golden Laced Wyandottes who went all broody on us are once again foraging along with the rest of the flock.

We couldn’t be happier over the results.

If only we could enjoy success like this when trying to adjust Delilah’s behavior.

Unrelated to any behavior concerns for our almost perfect pooch, I got my thumb bitten more painfully than ever a few days ago, when trying to wrangle a pull toy out of her mouth in her favorite game of tug-of-war.

She didn’t notice she got me, which I am happy about, because it wasn’t her fault at all and I didn’t want her to feel bad. I just had my thumb in the wrong place at the wrong time and it cost me one heck of a bruise, right at the nail bed. I get a frequent reminder when I type.

Luckily, the pressure didn’t break the skin.

I certainly learned of the impressive results of her bite, though.

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Written by johnwhays

May 15, 2019 at 6:00 am

Big Difference

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Last night I noticed that Cyndie was adding water to our landscape pond. I asked her if it has been needing as much water as the last few years. She told me that it didn’t, and that was a bit of a surprise. However, it leads me to believe that the changes we have made are likely responsible for the difference.

Since we moved here, each year the pond has needed more and more water added to maintain the level. We imagined there might be a leak, but we could never find any evidence of one. Then one day, I had an insight. Each year, the plants in the pond got thicker and thicker.

It seemed a surprising amount of water, but it occurred to me that the plants could be drinking it all up.

They were taking over, so we started pruning. We did a lot of pruning.

On top of that, we came across a valuable tip on keeping the pond clean over the offseason. We covered the surface with bird netting that caught all the debris of fall and winter. When we were ready to put the pump in this spring, all we needed to do was roll up the net. We were rewarded with a pond bottom of clean rocks, in place of the usual matt of rotting leaves.

Soon, the bundles of reeds that survived our pruning will start to sprout and we’ll see if the water level starts dropping at an increased rate.

I don’t mind so much that we have to add water, now that we’ve figured out it’s not simply pouring out some leak in the bottom. It’s just a little mind-boggling to see how much water the pond plants can actually consume if that is what’s actually happening.

I don’t know the actual science, but our anecdotal evidence about the big difference allows me to believe.

Especially given that I just really, really don’t want there to be a leak.

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Written by johnwhays

May 14, 2019 at 6:00 am