Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘clouds

Hiking Afton

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A hike in the woods along the scenic St. Croix River is always good for what ails, especially on an uncharacteristically summery day in the second half of October in the greater Twin Cities. Even better, doing it with precious friends and sharing a picnic lunch adds a magical essence of energizing endorphins.

We met Pam and John at Afton State Park early enough in the day that a second layer with long sleeves helped to tide us over until the heat of a summer day settled in. Pam and I first connected on a group trek in the Himalayas in 2009, the one that served as inspiration for me to start this blog. The mixture of terrain in the park and the marvelous conversations yesterday sparked remembrances for both of us of the weeks we shared over a decade ago in Nepal.

Driving to the Minnesota side of the St. Croix river from our house, I witnessed a phenomenon in the sky that was a first for me. High winds had pushed some clouds 90° from flat to straight up. On an otherwise unremarkable-weather morning, such an anomaly in the sky seemed incredibly remarkable to me.

I can only wonder what that would have been like for a small plane if one were in the vicinity.

My drive home included a different kind of excitement in the sky in the form of smoke. Actually, I smelled it before I saw it and the instant impression I had was alarm over the possibility of a brush fire on this hot and windy day with the extremely dry conditions our drought has caused.

I had just come through River Falls and finally spotting the thickness and depth of the smoke served to heighten my level of concern. Then I came upon a bright orange temporary road sign indicating a “prescribed burn” in progress.

“In these conditions?!!” I thought to myself.

Cyndie and I had traveled in separate cars as she had overnight plans with a friend in the Cities and drove west from Afton after our picnic and I returned home to take care of the horses and Delilah.

A short distance after the sign, my anxiousness dropped significantly at the sight of an incredible number of strategically parked vehicles and some big equipment, indicating this was not some short-sighted amateur operation. Still, it seemed to me like the weather conditions would have given them reason to pick another time for such a risky endeavor. I have no idea what the purpose was for the burn at that location.

Enquiring minds would like to know.

Good thing for me the residual endorphins from the good time hiking and picnicking in Afton State Park with John and Pam survived that brief, smoky disruption to my serenity on the drive home.

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Written by johnwhays

October 23, 2022 at 9:53 am

Outstretched Arms

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As if reaching for a hug or stretching to embrace the world before me, arms wide and heart open, I stand and gaze up toward the sky with lyrics from all my favorite songs strolling around in my increasingly foggy memory bank.

Can it be so hard
To love yourself without thinking
Someone else holds a lower card?

Free to Be, 1977 Bruce Cockburn

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Holding a sense of wonder has got to be one of the great secrets of living an enlightened life. Hah! Brings to mind the great darts episode of Ted Lasso:

“Be curious, not judgemental.”

In which the main character apparently misattributes the quote to Walt Whitman.

What does the world hold for me today? It’s mostly blue sky now but that’s changed twice already since I woke up a half-hour later than usual this morning. As I was getting Delilah into her harness for her morning stroll through our woods, the sun was shining brightly into our front entrance. I grabbed my sunglasses and off we went into the not-too-cold morning air.

Halfway through the woods on our way around toward the barn to feed the horses, I fumbled to stash my sunglasses in a vest pocket. The sky was filled with clouds.

Now the clouds have disappeared again, about as fast as they had shown up a couple of hours ago.

Last night’s weather forecast for today promised high winds but they haven’t kicked up here yet. I’ve left the barn doors closed in anticipation of avoiding the dusty turmoil that blustery days can kick up in there.

Here’s to being open to whatever insights the universe happens to provide for our further enlightenment on a sunny Sunday with no firm commitments demanding our time or attention.

I’m feeling a certain pull to lay down and stare up at the clouds while listening to a random shuffle of my music library.

Imagine that.

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Written by johnwhays

September 25, 2022 at 10:38 am

Nature’s Magnificence

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It was a beautifully warm sunny afternoon that found Cyndie and me splashing in the lake to clean duck shit off the inflated floating platform in the swimming area. A thankless task because not long after we leave, the ducks return and make themselves at home again. A price we pay to co-exist with wildlife.

At the time, we had no idea stormy weather might be lurking nearby. As the dinner hour approached, pizza from Coop’s was chosen and I got elected to drive into town to pick up our order. Emerging from the trees onto the road to Hayward, a view of the open sky revealed a most spectacular display of roiling cumulonimbus clouds that were so engaging I struggled to pay appropriate attention to my driving.

While waiting at the bar to pick up our par-baked circle of deliciousness, the two tv screens overhead began to display ominous-looking warnings about a thunderstorm in Sawyer county. Based on what I had just seen in the sky, I wasn’t surprised in the least, but the folks around me who were oblivious to what it looked like outside were caught as unaware as I had been 10-minutes earlier.

It just didn’t feel like a storm-threatening kind of day.

With the pizza box safely stowed on the seat beside me, I checked the radar view on my phone before setting off and saw we were on the backside of this long line of storms that were percolating just to the southeast and moving away from us.

I called Cyndie and suggested she check out the view, knowing her deep appreciation for cloud formations. By the time she was able to see it and take pictures, the clouds had lost some of the initial splendor of the freshly blossoming thunderstorm that I was able to witness, but because we were granted a rear view of the event, it still looked impressive.

As the rotation of the earth moved the sunlight closer to our western horizon, the storm in the distance began to glow and bounce vivid color off the lake for a whole nother visual presentation.

Isn’t nature magnificent?!

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Written by johnwhays

September 3, 2022 at 9:16 am

Nature’s Best

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Stormy skies can be a scary thing for some people but rainclouds also provide the backdrop for one of nature’s best spectacles. The weather pattern yesterday was a little chaotic with many periodic episodes of rain rolling by amidst hours of otherwise sun-bathed summer scenes.

It was the perfect recipe for a rainbow and that is precisely what we got.

Another highlight of the day involved multiple viewings of videos captured when Joni Mitchell surprised the world by showing up at the Newport Folk Festival. What a triumph at 78 years of age, after her brain aneurysm in 2015.

Joni is another one of nature’s best.

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Written by johnwhays

July 29, 2022 at 6:00 am

A Speck

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Cyndie has wowed me with another sky pic. I have cropped it to exclude the ground, leaving a spray of thin clouds smeared across the blue with a half-moon all lit up in broad daylight.

But there’s more.

Up near the top there is a speck that she hadn’t noticed at the time. I tried to brush it off my screen.

A high flyer soaring almost out of sight.

For as inconspicuous as it is, I think it disproportionately adds a lot to the image composition. Even though that dark spec barely catches my eye, knowing it is there provides added depth for me.

Or, I’m just thinking too hard. I simply like the image she captured. Down to the last speck.

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Written by johnwhays

July 11, 2022 at 6:00 am

Heavy Sky

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Who doesn’t like posts about the weather? It’s like a friend that everyone knows. We interact with the weather every single day. It’s our common denominator, even though it could be completely different for us at any given moment.

We didn’t receive the hail that our children in the Twin Cities reported, but the wild weather was swirling all around us. Poor Delilah was on full alert trying her darnedest to scare away the intimidating thunder with her most energetic ferocious barks. She leaped straight into the air to get after one particular rumble in the sky.

She puts out an incredibly valiant, yet futile effort to combat the ominous sounds and flashes of thunderstorms. The noise and her frantic energy quickly get tiresome to our weary ears and fractured ambiance.

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While out feeding the horses, the clouds put on a spectacular show that became very difficult to read. I wished I had taken one of the skywarn classes offered by the National Weather Service. The rain came in several waves with just a scattering of lightning and thunder. Between each, we saw moments of sunshine and general calm.

On an evening with a looming threat of severe weather, we lucked out as the worst cells slid either north or south of us. As nightfall descended, we walked out to deliver the trash and recycle bins to the road and got a good view of the backside of one of the big cells.

Our sky was beginning to look much less heavy already.

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Written by johnwhays

May 20, 2022 at 6:00 am

Driving Home

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In a rare change of routine for a weekend at the lake, we stayed overnight Sunday and drove home yesterday a little before noon. Why? Basically, because we could, although the added benefit of avoiding typical Sunday traffic returning to the Twin Cities was a welcome bonus.

It was a bit of a surprise to see a new inch of snow had fallen while we were gone. By the time we got home, the temperature had climbed into the 40s (F) and the snowpack was morphing from individual flakes into one smooth slushy.

Some short-legged critter left a trail of footprints in the deep snow by our labyrinth. In stark contrast to the mini-labyrinth among the trees at the lake, our circuit at home hasn’t been walked for months, making the path mostly invisible beneath the white covering.

Around the corner, we found an even more interesting pattern melted into the snow in the shadow of the fence of the back pasture.

Somehow, the lines of the wires were clearly reflected on the surface of the snow. I’m guessing it had to do with the angle of the moving sun aligning just right with the wires as it made its way across the sky.

By the time we got there, the sun was being obscured by a rather distinct change of cloud cover in the sky.

Near the bottom of that image, tiny specks of what happens to be our four horses can be seen hanging out in one of their favorite areas of our fields. As we made the last turn toward the barn, they started their journey up to the overhang for the afternoon feeding.

We were happy to find things in good order after a long weekend of care by the very capable horse person Cyndie found to cover for us when we are gone.

It was a wonderful weekend away, but as always, we are really glad to be home again.

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Written by johnwhays

March 1, 2022 at 7:00 am

Battening Hatches

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In the shadow of the storm that ravaged the middle of the U.S. last week, the prediction for our area this evening is a little intimidating. High winds and December thunderstorms after record warmth in the afternoon have us more on edge than usual.

Any time it rains here in the winter I wince. Everything about it is wrong. It will likely be a night to bring the horses inside the barn to protect them from getting soaking wet ahead of the drop in temperatures to below freezing.

The insolating properties of their winter coats don’t work so well when wet.

How come penguins don’t have that problem? Polar bears? Whatever.

If we had hatches, we would be battening them down today.

Last night’s sky at sunset was just dramatic enough to feel like a hint of what lies ahead. I will be very happy to find out our concerns were unnecessary if nothing significant materializes.

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Written by johnwhays

December 15, 2021 at 7:00 am

Interesting Cloud

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In many ways, the weather around here the last few days has felt rather November-typical and the sky has been a constantly changing mix of cloud types with intermittent moments of blue.

Yesterday, we saw what almost looked like the monster of all contrails.

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Feel free to make up your own scary conspiracy story to explain what “they” are up to that created this spectacle.

It appeared close to the time the Omicron variant showed up in the world… Coincidence?

Um, in case you don’t know me that well yet, I’m poking fun at those who might actually believe the line above.

Regardless, doesn’t hurt (except maybe some people’s pride) to put on a mask if you are near a lot of other people.

Never mind to those of you who stormed the college football fields in Ann Arbor or Minneapolis yesterday. Hopefully, your euphoria will protect you from infections.

Big wins are soooo much fun in sports competitions. Way to go, Gophers!

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Written by johnwhays

November 28, 2021 at 11:03 am

Realized

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

November 19, 2021 at 7:00 am