Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘changing seasons

Passing Peak

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One day you wake up and notice the dominant shade out the window is yellow-brown. Honestly, it seems like it happens overnight. Tuesday, the trees were ablaze with vibrant hues of red and orange with green and yellow highlights backed by a blue sky to set them all off magnificently.

Yesterday, it looked as if a switch had been flipped to subdue the magnificence and replace it with a dulled pallor of decaying leaves.

The high heat of Tuesday held the potential of triggering some thunderstorms overnight but our roof received nary a drop. Somewhere around zero-dark-thirty, my full bladder nudged me out of a perfect slumber and in semi-consciousness I suspected I was hearing rainfall. Turned out to be the furnace fan noise through the floor vent.

A trip to the bathroom rousted me enough to check my phone for weather details and I saw there was an alert of lightning strikes nearby. I pulled up the radar image and discovered the line of stormy weather had split around us to the north and south. That would be great luck if you were hoping to dodge bad weather but it is rotten luck when the ground is so dry it is cracking open in a gaping grimace of distressed thirst.

The sparse sprinkles that misted down from passing clouds yesterday afternoon were just a mocking wetness that barely settled dust. It is weird to watch the dark rain clouds in the sky moving by all around us but never overhead.

The bright spot that occurred for us was the arrival of a truck up the driveway with a logo from the underground cable company that is installing fiber optic broadband internet cables in our county. The guy had just completed splicing the line at the road and was coming up to the house to check the strength of the signal.

We now have an appointment scheduled for in-home installation of the modem, the last step to get us connected to high-speed internet.

At least the technician didn’t have to deal with any rain while he worked to splice our fiber.

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Written by johnwhays

October 13, 2022 at 6:00 am

Leaving Us

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It’s Tuesday after Labor Day and plenty of fall activities that haven’t already kicked off will be starting today. Our guests left us yesterday for the next leg of their journey in a vehicle that looked to be packed with everything a college freshman would need to get started.

The Birgens awoke in the morning to the news that the Kenyan Supreme Court has ruled that the candidate, William Ruto, was properly elected President in the 2022 general election. One less thing to be concerned about for them at a time their oldest son is starting a new job and the youngest is starting college.

I find myself thinking about how nice it is to be well beyond the years of taking kids to their first year of college. Feels similar to when I began to appreciate getting past the years when September meant “back to school” during the K-12 phase of our kids’ lives.

The few connotations September holds for me now are the onset of fall colors, Cyndie’s and my anniversary (41 years!), Julian’s birthday, and the start of MN Vikings football –despite my best efforts to stop caring about anything having to do with the modern-day NFL. Nothing about getting prepared for school.

I have already noticed the return of school bus traffic on our road at home twice a day, but the impact from that on my life is negligible.

I tip my hat to all of you who have school-age children starting a new bus and/or classroom experience today.

My time with access to television coverage of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament is ending today as we leave the lake place and return home.

For some reason –probably related to wanting to witness Serena Williams make one last attempt for a major victory at the end of her illustrious career– I was inspired to watch as many live matches as I could this year. I was lucky to have captured a few dramatic matchups that were really exciting and very competitive.

A couple of them were almost as exciting as the end of the Florida State vs. LSU college football game I stumbled upon Sunday night during a break in the tennis.

It’s probably a good thing we are leaving the lake place and all the cable sports channels I have access to here so I can take a break from spectator sports and get outside and give this gorgeous September weather the proper respect it deserves.

It’s my favorite time of year, right up there with my other favorite, winter!

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Written by johnwhays

September 6, 2022 at 6:00 am

Edges Covered

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With little in the way of fanfare, yesterday we raked up gravel over the last of the exposed asphalt edges of our new driveway. By that point in the exercise, I had lost much of my ability to care about the level of perfection we were achieving compared to when we first started. It’s going to be good enough for all intents and purposes.

The next phase of the driveway finishing project involves backfilling some of the steeper edges with dirt or composted manure but that detail is not as essential. It won’t worry me if we don’t get that all done prior to the arrival of the snow season.

We did make a point of celebrating the accomplishment a little later in the day with a leisurely game of CrossCrib out on our deck. A nod to the vacation-mode feeling of being up at the lake, it occurred to me we have the same game board at home and a deck that offers everything except a view of a lake. We can play at home just as well as up at Wildwood.

We tend to forget sometimes, what with all the landscape and animals vying for our time and attention. A card game in the middle of a beautiful afternoon can be a healthy diversion.

Since today is the Friday of a holiday weekend, we will be traveling north to the lake place again, leaving the dog behind to be cared for by our house and animal sitter, Grace.

This is a routine that has served us well this summer. Labor Day weekend is traditionally the last gasp of summer activities up at the lake. That doesn’t mean we will stop making the trek up there, though. A few trees were already showing signs of fall color on the drive home last weekend. That spectacle provides plenty of incentive to get back up to the lake after Labor Day.

First things first. We have a long weekend to enjoy some very promising-looking weather predicted for the northland.

It will be even nicer knowing the edges of the new asphalt driveway at home are now completely covered with a gravel shoulder.

Huzzah!

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Written by johnwhays

September 2, 2022 at 6:00 am

Ridiculous Reality

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Reality can be downright absurd. Still, we take what we get and forge ahead because reality doesn’t go away no matter how much we sometimes pretend things are otherwise. Regardless of how many distractions we find to escape into fantasy, reality is always there, waiting for us to return.

Our reality this morning at Wintervale is a rock-hard freeze of 13°F (-10°C), locking the mishmash of mud in the paddocks into an almost unnavigable pockmarked surface. Too bad that didn’t prevent the two chestnuts, Mia and Light, from almost running me over in a panicked retreat from the aggressive posturing of Mix. She has an annoyingly consistent need to disrupt the bucolic serenity by encroaching on the feeding space of Mia and Light.

At least we were able to enjoy a quick return to calm after forcing Mix back to where we could close some gates and allow better-protected feed pan grazing to resume.

The clear blue sky and bright sunshine are beautiful, but the ridiculous winter temperature at this point of our early spring is a bit of a slap in our faces.

On a stroll yesterday afternoon we took a moment to cut some branches with a handsaw in completion of a mid-way walking route through our woods. We added the first half of this shortcut path last fall and have enjoyed walking it so much we were inspired to complete the last portion. It will be nice to have the route adequately established before all the greenery explodes that would otherwise obscure it.

When we reached the clearing of our perimeter trail, I took a moment to re-stack a couple columns of balanced rocks that winter toppled.

How long do you think it will be until those views turn green again?

It’s gonna take a lot warmer temperatures than we are enduring lately, I know that much. A few warm days in a row and green growth will start showing up everywhere.

It hasn’t arrived yet, but we can see the month of April from where we are standing. It makes it all the more ridiculous that it feels like January today.

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Written by johnwhays

March 27, 2022 at 10:19 am

Ground Visible

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The change of seasons is marching full ahead with great results. I appreciate that our snowpack’s meltdown has been happening at a perfectly gradual pace. It’s been cool enough during the overnights that melting pauses so the runoff has been controlled, for the most part.

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Delilah and I found the fields entirely bare when we emerged from the woods where there was still snow covering the ground on our morning stroll.

By afternoon, water was flowing as the melting of remaining snow picked up again. It is very rewarding to witness the unimpeded drainage flowing where Cyndie and I worked hard to correct the grade in front of her perennial garden last year.

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My “swale” in the paddock hadn’t maintained its shape nearly as well and the water was draining randomly across the main travel path of two gateways where hoof prints in the soft earth disrupt any coordinated drainage. While cleaning up manure yesterday afternoon, I did a rudimentary job of stemming the flow as best I could, using the flimsy plastic tines of my fork scoop tool.

I want the water to flow out of the paddock to the left of the gate opening to the hayfield, not across the primary travel pattern of the horses. Any attempts I make toward achieving this goal end up getting stomped on by horses who don’t seem to notice what my efforts are intended to accomplish for them.

It’s almost like they have no idea how much they weigh and the amount of disruption in soft, wet soil they create.

One other creature who has no idea how much of a disaster she creates is Delilah. She prances around everywhere she pleases in the snow and mud and then assumes a little toweling off when we come inside the house and she’s good to go.

Sweeping the floor is an adventure after practically every outing.

Yeah, the ground is visible alright.

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Written by johnwhays

March 19, 2022 at 7:06 am

River Running

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Winter has loosed its grip. When we walked the perimeter yesterday morning while the temperature was below freezing, there was little evidence of a meltdown unleashing the spring runoff. By mid-afternoon, the drainage ditches were alive with running water.

The air temperature probably hit 50°F for a bit, resulting in water flowing as if there was an actual river along our southern property border, not just a swale that sits dry most of the time.

The bridge I built along the back pasture fence line was doing its job to perfection as the flow of water across our land poured beneath it into the main ditch just beyond.

If I didn’t know better, I’d be looking to see if I could spot any brook trout flitting around in the current.

From the looks of the extended forecast, we should have a nicely controlled meltdown in the days ahead, with overnight temperatures slowing the thaw for a few hours and daytime warmth climbing well into fast-melting territory.

Manure droppings in the paddock are no longer able to hide beneath snow cover. I’m actually looking forward to getting the place cleaned up again to our usual high standards. The only complication with that plan is that I don’t have a lot of open composting space to dump the couple of wheelbarrows-full it will require. The winters-worth of accumulation doesn’t break down so we’ve already got quite a few stacks that will need to be tended once they thaw. I need to stir the piles up and reshape them to get the composting action heating up so they will break down and shrink enough to begin merging piles together.

The fertilizer factory will be back in full swing before the trees leaf out.

Walking around with no coat on yesterday had me wondering if now would be a good time to take the plow blade off the Grizzly ATV. I don’t like to tempt fate. My mind quickly flashes memories of our first spring here when it snowed 18″ in the first few days of May.

A lot could happen weather-wise in the next month or so. I know from experience not to put away shovels just because the winter snow has all melted away. The plow isn’t hurting anything right where it is for now.

In the meantime, the new road bike I bought over the winter is about to get multiple outings to test how well we get along with each other.

When rivers start flowing through the snow, my bicycling season is nigh.

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Written by johnwhays

March 16, 2022 at 6:00 am

So Happy

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We were only away a few days but Pequenita seemed extra happy over our return yesterday. It seems as though she understands the routine of our leaving for days at a time and so maybe the occasion of our return is becoming something of an increased expectation for her.

She was rather comically clingy for the first part of the afternoon and then again when I sat on our bed and opened up my laptop.

I don’t mind giving her extended scratches when she shows so much appreciation for the touch, despite the limitations it creates for getting any real writing done.

The horses weren’t what I would describe as clingy when we showed up at the barn. Mix was in “bossy-mare” mode and preferred to pay amped-up attention to the two chestnuts, Mia and Light. They all looked noticeably more shaggy as their winter growth is filling in nicely.

Our weather is holding in “uneventful” mode while vast swaths of the country are experiencing events. The precipitation spinning around the low-pressure center in the middle states is staying just to our south. This buys us time to continue the process of winterizing Wintervale.

Today we plan to pull the pump from our landscape pond and cover the water with netting to capture leaves during the off-season. We also will remove the plastic awnings over the windows of the chicken coop and place solid plastic panels over the screens. Even though there won’t be any birds in there, we still want to keep it from filling up with snow.

We pulled in our plastic rain gauge to keep it from getting cracked when water freezes in it. We’ll be in the “in-between” season for a while, where precip can fall as rain and snow on any given day.

I’ll be happy to stay inside and give Pequenita scratches during weather like that, thank you very much.

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Written by johnwhays

October 25, 2021 at 6:00 am

Less Color

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Not every plant bursts with color this time of year, but the changes still look cool.

Close to the forest floor, Cyndie snapped this shot of leaves with an eye-catching fade from green to an absence of color.

Walking through the woods yesterday we marveled over the carpet of leaves that are a perfectly distributed parquet of colors in certain sections. Under a few other trees, it’s one dominating color where all the leaves of individual trees dropped in a short span of time.

It’s interesting how they will soon all turn brown and not long after that, the ground will be covered with white.

Less color, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

October 5, 2021 at 6:00 am

Inside View

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Justifiably so, most pictures of trees in autumn are from beyond the forest where the view can include the variety of brilliant colors glowing from entire trees. Yesterday, Delilah and I paused on a walk through our woods so I could capture the view of early autumn from within the trees.

There are plenty of green leaves still attached to branches but the forest floor is already carpeted by a new batch of recently fallen leaves. The onset of fall is first noticeable by the leaves that fall on our trails, before the ones that start turning colors up in the branches.

I find myself needing to put effort toward consciously noticing this IS autumn. The early phases of this transition beyond summer are just as much a part of my favorite season as the later phases when branches are bare and mornings frosty.

Earlier in the week, Cyndie captured her shadow visible on the trunk of a tree that was glowing orange with a spot of just-risen sunlight appearing through the forested landscape behind her.

It may be the last week of September but the grass on our property is growing like it’s still mid-summer. It is becoming common now that I end up mowing grass and mulching fallen leaves all at the same time.

It bothers me a little bit that I am not shocked that 80-degree temperatures are forecast for the next few days.

Just like the fall season IS here right now, so is global warming and all the effects scientists have long predicted would occur if humans didn’t reduce the creation of greenhouse gasses at the rate that has grown steadily since the beginning of industrialization.

Fall colors and hot temperatures are an odd combination for my mind to associate.

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Written by johnwhays

September 25, 2021 at 9:37 am

Getting Bolder

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Even though the number of trees around us that are starting to show some colors of autumn is few, a couple took a jump yesterday toward premium brilliance. Those spots of bold color are particularly eye-catching.

That dot of redness stands out distinctly against the green around it. When this happens, I imagine what that tree would look like if all the leaves changed to the same degree at the same time.

Around the corner from that area is a maple tree turning orange.

I hope this is an indication of fall color intensity we can look forward to seeing more of as the month progresses.

I heard that the ever-changing sunrise and sunset times are moving 3-minutes per day about now. That’s a loss of 21-minutes of daylight this week. Could less sunlight mean slower grass growth finally?

I’m ready to be done mowing for the season. I suspect we still have a ways to go until I can park the mower for the winter.

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Written by johnwhays

September 13, 2021 at 6:00 am