Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘autumn

Buckthorn Season

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In addition to looking for antlered bucks in the woods this time of year, I am also hunting for buckthorn. Common buckthorn is an invasive tree that I strive to control on our property. In the fall, buckthorn holds its deep green leaves longer than most other growth in our forests, making it easier to spot.

It’s not foolproof though, because I always seem to find a large enough tree that reveals I must have missed it the year before. I think the main reason for this is buckthorn is not the only growth that still has leaves after the majority of the forest turns brown and barren. There is at least one other bush that confuses my hunt.

The main difference I have found is the relative color of green, as can be seen in the picture I took yesterday while Delilah and I were forging our way off-trail to dispatch every invasive we could find. The batch of leaves on the left are a buckthorn I just cut down that must have been missed the year before. The noticeably lighter green leaves on the right are the primary bush that complicates my identifying the unwelcome buckthorn.

When I look into the trees on my neighbor’s unmanaged land, there is an obvious spread of green growth, but ours holds just a fraction of that, only a few of which are the deep green buckthorn.

With this year’s quick jump to Arctic cold and several doses of early snow, the buckthorn hunting season has been shortened. Luckily, I had already done a first-pass through to address the sprouts of growth that are small enough to easily pull by hand before the ground started to freeze.

At that time, I didn’t have my hand saw with me, so I took a mental note of the larger trees I wanted to come back to cut down. When I set out to do that yesterday, I almost failed to find that tree shown in this picture. I needed to get to a place where just the right angle of view made it stand out.

Delilah loves that we need to roam into the middle of the areas we rarely visit, as she is able to find all sorts of disgusting things left behind by the wild forest animals that romp around on our land.

I’m satisfied with the progress this year and ready to consider the hunt complete. There was less growth than previous years, so our efforts are definitely paying off. The view into the adjacent property confirms it.

Our woods look distinctly more managed and that makes trekking through them for year-round forest bathing that much more rewarding.

Huzzah!

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Golden Leaves

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Once again I find myself mind-boggled by the space-time continuum, as I perceive it, currently placing us in the middle of October when September seems like it didn’t even exist. For that matter, what the heck happened to August? It was here just a minute ago.

The 2019 autumn weather has not spawned a particularly noteworthy color display in the tree-lined vistas of my commute, but some of the trees on our land are sporting a fair amount of golden hues.

Looking out our kitchen window over the sink, this view caught my eye yesterday:

The magical enhancement of direct sunlight kicks up the attention-getting aspect of fall colors to 11. I stopped what I was doing (preparing Delilah’s and Pequenita’s dinners, much to Delilah’s dismay) to step outside with my camera to try for a capture of the spectacle before the light changed.

Honestly, the camera didn’t do it justice compared to the glory of naked-eye viewing, but it is still rewarding to see the dramatic difference from the wealth of deep greens the foliage in that scene usually provides during the summer.

I played with some post-processing for two additional views.

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Fall colors are so much fun. The best is when there are as many reds and oranges bursting at the same time as the golden yellows, but that mix is lacking this year.

Somehow, I would like to exercise a deepest possible comprehension that it is October 15th today, whatever that is. I blame my date disorientation on needing to plan months ahead all day long at the day-job. The fact that I am currently scheduling work in November seems like it should make time go slower for me when I notice we are still only in October, but for some odd reason the result is just the opposite.

Living in the moment is a luxury that I usually struggle to fully accomplish.

Giving our golden leaves my rapt attention is one way I can strive to absorb a fuller recognition of what day it is today.

It would help if the low spots around here weren’t still wet as a spring day. I must admit, my muddy wet boots are another reason my brain struggles to reconcile we are in the middle of the tenth month of the year.

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Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2019 at 6:00 am

All Quiet

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All quiet in our little corner of Wobegon world this week. I was right about my suspicions that the burrowing woodchuck would show up again somewhere. Since we secured the window well, the pest spent time messing around the outside edges in search of a new way in. Just lovely.

Cyndie leaves for the lake today with friends of hers for the weekend and I will be partying at home alone with the pets. Maybe I’ll see if I can get Delilah to help me pull up the old deck boards. The new lumber has been purchased and already delivered in two stacks on the driveway.

So much for paying someone else to do the job. Think of the money we will save!

Mike has volunteered to help with installing the new boards, and we have a plan to hit that task next week. I would like to make some progress before then by pulling the old boards, if my bulging discs will allow.

That’s about all the news I have today. I’ll leave you with a scene of our skinny trees that Cyndie captured to show how the property is beginning to make the transformation toward leaflessness.

Peace!

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Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2019 at 6:00 am

Late Season

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A day away from the calendar start of autumn has us checking out the lake place in transition and it is as glorious as ever this weekend, despite some gray and rainy weather.

We went to dinner last night at the recently reopened restaurant located about a block away from our driveway. The new name is Tavern at White Stag Farm. The atmosphere hints at old European with a delicious menu to match. Fred and Marie treated us in celebration of our anniversary. It was grand!

When we aren’t feasting on luscious meals, we have been competing in mixed teams at the cribbage board game, “CrossCrib®” taking turns claiming bragging rights. This morning will likely bring the challenge for weekend supremacy.

The other excitement has been the close proximity of our resident eagles and their fledglings. They have taken to perching on the pine tree right outside our window.

We have seen the young ones fly, but it appears they may still lack some confidence. They spend a lot of energy being highly vocal on their perch, crying out for something. Research reveals a common training behavior is for the parent eagles to withhold food as an enticement to the fledglings to fly.

That scenario is easy to ascribe to what we have been witnessing.

I can report that the eagles are not bashful about screeching loudly before the sun has broken the horizon.

Maybe they are feeling some urgency to get this flying thing mastered before the fall season ushers in the freezing of the lake where they have been enjoying easy pickings of fish all summer.

Despite the unusually warm temperatures this weekend, there is no denying that the summer of 2019 is behind us now.

Here’s hoping it will soon usher in the bright colors and brisk temperatures of fall.

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Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2019 at 9:22 am

Shedding Season

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The hours of daylight are changing noticeably, but there are other ways the change of seasons is becoming obvious lately. When we step outside our doors there is an interesting series of sounds coming from our giant oak trees. Are they shooting at us? No, it is just the pinging and slapping of acorns strafing the land.

It’s best to wear a stiff hat if you will be spending any time beneath the oaks this time of year. Oh, and walking on the lawn under the tree outside the front door is like navigating shag carpet with a giant Lego® set spilled across it.

While the trees are shedding acorns, our Belgian Tervuren is shedding her fur.

It seems counter-intuitive to be shedding in the fall, but in order to grow the winter coat, dogs will lose the lighter summer coat. Delilah is one of the breeds that have a double coat, with an undercoat of short, wooly hairs beneath the top coat of long hairs, so the shedding is a bit more obvious.

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So, around here this time of year, it’s not just acorns making a mess on the lawn.

Yeah, I wish it was just the lawn where the mess occurred. Delilah spends more of her time in the house, so you can imagine what our floors are looking like lately.

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Written by johnwhays

September 15, 2019 at 6:45 am

Good Times

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When Cyndie and I got home from our respective days last Thursday, we were greeted by the sight of our hay-field being cut. When we got home yesterday from our weekend with Mike and Barb at their lake place, our hay-field was being raked into windrows.

Between those two events, we enjoyed great adventures in the northland woods.

On our drive up toward Grand Rapids, we paused for a picnic lunch and walk along the St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park. I had forgotten about the flooding 10″ rain that caused incredible damage in that region in 2012.

It was impressive to see how great the damage recovery looks now, this many years later.

Walking the rebuilt iconic swinging bridge over the river brought back memories of the exhilarating bridges Gary Larson and I walked in Nepal, minus the prayer flags and yak trains.

The trail along the St. Louis River offers great adventure of rough terrain navigation over roots and rocks, with gargantuan slanted rock formations providing fabulous views.

Jay Cooke State Park is a real treasure for the state of Minnesota.

In the evening on Friday, we sat out under the stars and enjoyed a roaring campfire for as long as tired eyes tolerated. Without having noticed that clouds had rolled in while we were out there, we called it a night just as rain moved in.

By morning, there was some snow on the ground, too. Cloud-burst blizzards breezed past around sunrise, interspersed with moments of bright blue sky. It was rather mountain-like conditions, also remarkably similar to weather Gary and I experienced in the Himalayas.

On Saturday, we did a lot of hiking in the woods. The tamarack trees were in glorious golden form. The rest of the fall colored leaves were past prime.

That scene is one I would gladly see made into a jigsaw puzzle.

The weekend was everything we hoped for, and more.

The animals at home were well cared for by Maddie and Lauren, two students at UW-River Falls who we’ve added to our pool of trained sitters.

Good times, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2018 at 6:00 am

Autumn Mowing

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I don’t have any recollection of the lawn ever being so “June-like” this late in October. It felt totally strange yesterday to be cutting such long, thick, green grass with the air chilly and the sun at this uncharacteristic low angle.

In addition to the summery grass blades, the standing puddles of water left over from the recent rains were downright spring-like.

When I got done, the fresh-mowed lawn contrasted strangely against the golden hue of fall that the trees now provide for a backdrop.

It also seemed odd to be mowing the grass a few days after we had just received snow.

On my walk back to the house after I was done with chores for the evening, I stopped to take some pictures of the low sun beaming through the golden trees.

That carpet of leaves is a favorite of mine. I wish we could have layers of leaves that look like that as a ground cover, in place of lawn grass around our land.

Guess that means we would need to get busy transplanting more trees.

Spread the wealth!

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Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2018 at 6:00 am

Yep, Snow

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Well, we got that out of the way. The first snowfall of the season arrived and decorated our place with a light frosting of white yesterday.

Made for a great Sunday afternoon of lounging in front of the fireplace and watching football games on television up in the loft.

There will be plenty of other days to be out in the elements when flakes are flying in the months ahead. I elected to spend the first one indoors.

Am I showing my age?

Yeah, probably.

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Written by johnwhays

October 15, 2018 at 6:00 am

Way Fun

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It’s a little embarrassing how much I enjoyed the ease of large-sized puzzle pieces which allowed me to polish off this beauty in a day at the lake.

I guess a mental break from my routine was due. My brain soaked up the puzzling like a dry sponge takes on water. Nothing like putting things in order and getting a pretty picture to appreciate as a result. It was a nice antidote for the constant onslaught of changes and challenges life routinely serves up.

The convenience of the large pieces were key to enabling me to get this assembled in a single weekend.

It definitely changed both the visual and tactile features of puzzling that appeal to me, but after finishing as quickly as I did, I rate the tradeoff as an acceptable compromise.

With my project complete by early in the morning yesterday, we had plenty of time to get out for a walk in the middle of the day to take in the beginnings of fall colors around the lake.

The dominance of gray in the sky and gray reflected off the surface of the water, served to mute the true beauty of the few trees showing good fall color.

On our drive home, between periods of sun and one rain shower, we noticed the intensity of color ebbed and flowed inconsistently. Brilliance increased for a while, and suddenly disappeared. Then, as we made our way close to home, the fall colors seemed to pick up again.

One tree on our land caught my attention last Friday, because of the way it stood out as an early adopter.

There are a few more trees that decided to join the fun over the weekend. One maple tree by the hay shed is beginning to show deep red in the top third of its branches.

It’s fair to say, the colorful fun is getting ready to break out all over around our place in the very near future.

Sure hope we get some sun and blue skies to enhance the annual spectacle!

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Written by johnwhays

October 1, 2018 at 6:00 am

Woods Changing

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Fall has arrived and it sure feels like it outside this morning. There is a distinct chill in the air, despite the ongoing global warmup occurring.

Well before the fall landscape color palette changes from green to red/orange/yellow, an inside view reveals the impending change.

There aren’t a lot of leaves on the ground yet, but there is a definite thinning of foliage going on. Delilah and I were traipsing along the soggy trail yesterday when I took the above picture. Times like this bring great appreciation for the “boardwalk” we envisioned in one of the swampy spots of our trails. It is an ongoing installation of blocks I remove from shipping pallets I salvage from the day-job.

Once again, it is getting easier to leave the trail and bushwhack through our woods to explore rarely visited spaces. I think this may subtly contribute to a universal attraction people share for fall, along with the obvious colorization and comfortable dew point temperatures. The woods open up and provide easy accessibility.

Friday night the easy access seemed to invite a noisy visitor to the grove of trees just beyond our house. Delilah spends many precious minutes every day barking in response to the sound of neighboring dogs miles away. Friday, that neighboring bark came from darkness just beyond the reach of our flood light.

Oddly, Delilah felt no need to respond, although she took great interest in our sudden fascination with the mysterious trespasser outside the back door. My guess was the stray visitor had treed a raccoon, or squirrel, or turkey and was “shouting” at it.

Last evening, during our last big walk of the day, I let Delilah’s nose direct us off-trail through the woods along the many odd paths frequently traveled by a variety of resident critters.

I also put fresh batteries in the trail camera to resume monitoring the night life visiting the chicken coop.

It was a very quiet night there last night. No motion until almost 6:00 this morning, when a cat wandered past.

We took down the netting around the coop yesterday, making it easy again to clean the poop board, so maybe traffic will pick up with time. Not that we wish for that. I just see it as inevitable.

Inevitable like the end of summer growing season, which is marked by the first real overnight freeze. I’m in no particular rush for that, other than a desire to be done mowing the grass for another year.

With the woods changing noticeably, and the noted chill greeting us this morning, we sense the big freeze isn’t far off.

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Written by johnwhays

September 23, 2018 at 9:38 am