Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘budding leaves

Underground Conversations

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After listening to a Radiolab podcast Cyndie turned on while we were eating breakfast (From Tree to Shining Tree) about the complex web of fungi and tree roots underground, I decided to head out for a bike ride yesterday. I chose a route that retraced the last leg of the great 60-mile ride from Minneapolis to Beldenville that my friend, Paul Keiski and I planned in recognition of our 60th birthdays.

That last section always haunts me for the wrong turn I made that moved our 60-mile ride closer to a 70-mile one. I have a history of confusing my orientation and choosing turns that are 180° in the wrong direction. The right turn I made on that fateful day almost four years ago makes absolutely no sense. It was really hot and I was very fatigued but that turn should have been entirely obvious.

Every time I have ridden those roads since that day, I take great pleasure in making the correct turn without a moment of hesitation. Yesterday, I rode 32 miles of country roads past farms with freshly mowed grass, an occasional horse, and a lot of lounging cows. I spotted multiple patches of flowering trillium and a lot of trees with newly sprouted leaves.

There is so much happening in the plant world right now, I began to wonder about how many underground conversations must be occurring throughout the incredible network of roots and fungi in the dirt. How much energy must be traveling up all the countless number of tree branches during this phase when buds open and leaves emerge?

Our forests are starting to look like forests again.

Seeing all the leaves pop out tells me the network of underground communication must be functioning well in our woods. I’m particularly thrilled that the maple tree we transplanted to the center of the labyrinth (after our first three attempts failed) appears to have made the necessary underground connections to thrive.

I can’t imagine what those conversations must have been like. We plopped that tree into the ground in a location that isolated it from any other existing trees. At least, that’s the way it looked from above ground. Down in the dirt, I’m guessing there were more tentacles of growing roots and fungi than one might expect. Thank goodness for that if that’s what it took for this one to survive the trauma of being moved.

Thinking about this makes me want to take as much care to nurture our forest floor as I direct toward the trees above.



Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2023 at 6:00 am

Watching Change

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How often do we notice that we are witnessing change? Consider the perspective that everything is changing all of the time. We are watching transitions and adaptations happen every single second.

This time of year, the metamorphosis of our dull brown forests from open branches to a thick fabric of green leaves is very easy to notice. The significance of the difference is truly dramatic to experience first-hand. One snapshot is entirely inadequate to represent the vastness of what is happening, but that didn’t stop me from deciding to take a picture of one moment when the early sprouts of green are just becoming visible.

It was a moment when I was witnessing the continued adjustment of our horses to their new home. I stood among them as they luxuriated in the calm comfort of our hayfield. Cyndie captured the view as it appeared to her from the driveway.

Meanwhile, major change is now underway in the pile of composting manure, as revealed by my thermometer.

The modifications underway that will transform this pile of shit into rich soil are happening right before my eyes, even though there isn’t much to see except a little steam, depending on conditions.

I did the first lawn mowing of the season yesterday and kicked off the oscillating changes of long grass/cut grass that will play out for the next many months.

Change is happening all the time and we are witness to it whether we are paying attention or not..


Written by johnwhays

May 1, 2021 at 9:38 am

Green Everywhere

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For the first time since last October, we can’t see the chicken coop from the driveway. The green of innumerable leaves has returned in a blink.

Complimenting all the green exploding in every direction was the blue sky. Just the kind of weather that would be perfect for an inaugural bike ride of the season, when a person has failed to take advantage of any previous chances.

That meant I needed to hustle home from work, and focus exclusively on cleaning and re-assembling my bike. That is to say, no more disassembly allowed. Unlike my usual self, I somehow made short work of getting the trusty two-wheeler back into riding shape.

After a break for a quick dinner, I decided to see how it rode. I mentioned out loud that I wouldn’t have my bike computer because the battery was dead, and Cyndie reminded me I could use my phone.

It had been so long since using the “Map My Ride” app, I needed to reset my password to get logged in, but once that was done, I was ready to ride.

I like a quiet bike, and I’m proud to say that my bike didn’t utter a single annoying mechanical peep. The problem with quiet bike though, is anything else making unwelcome noises becomes that much more noticeable.

I’m pretty sure it was my shoes. I have a cleat mounted in my shoes that snaps into my pedals. The longer I rode, the more I became aware of what sounded like a squeaky chair as I muscled my way up hills.

Those cleats will get a serious snugging before my next ride.

I made it home just as the sun was dropping below the horizon. By that hour of the day, the low spots on the road take on a dramatic chill compared to the rest of the air. I paused on top of the first high spot of our driveway and checked the app.

Eight miles in 36 minutes, including several fair-sized hills. Minimal traffic and only a couple of farm tractors to pass. Startled someone’s horse napping in a pasture and got stared at by a lot of cows.

That’ll do just fine for a starter.

Now if I could just do that every day for a month, maybe I would be in reasonable shape at the start of the Tour of Minnesota.

The first day mileage will be 80 miles, so I’d rather not show up under-prepared for that.



Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2018 at 6:00 am