Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘friends

Peaceful Presence

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With a perfectly timed explosion of lightning and thunder, our peaceful World Labyrinth Day came to a spectacular close last night. Prior to that, we had plenty of sun and warmth to walk the circuitous path of our 70-foot diameter, 11 circuit Chartes labyrinth nestled on the edge of our woods beside a horse pasture.

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Even though the “Walk as One at 1” in a global wave of peace was the primary reason for yesterday’s open house at Wintervale, it ended up being the chickens who stole the show.

The kids present wanted to climb inside the fence and feed the growing chicks delectable treats of dried worms and cracked corn right from their hands.

Although the young birds were a bit skittish over all the human energy present on our first visit, Cyndie took the kids back a little later and the chicks were much more interested in exploring the offerings.

Shortly after the last of family and friends had departed for the day, Cyndie and I made the rounds to bring hammocks and chair cushions inside. The sky was growing dark gray on the horizon.

We made the short trek to Clyde’s Corner for cheese burgers to cap off the end of a successful day, while the thunderstorm loomed large. Luckily, we had decided to wrangle the chicks back into the coop before we left.

The drive home was a light-show of streaking lightning bolts, many appearing to be hitting closer to us as the storm moved away. That had Delilah barking up her own storm to bring our exciting day to an appropriate end.

It started peacefully, and ended with quite a bang.

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Trail Inspirations

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After a second visit on Saturday for pure maple syrup and pancakes, Cyndie enlisted the artistic energies of visiting Williams girls, Ella and Sarah, to decorate some of the new blocks before we placed them on the trail.

It’s a bit of a shame that their designs will all too quickly be subject to the abuses of plodding muddy boots and paws, but that won’t stop the creative exclamations from still offering glimpses of inspiration to passersby.

The 60 new blocks paved another 8.5 feet of sloppy trail, but we’re still going to need a lot more pallets if we want to cover the length of perpetually wet ground down there.

The picture I used yesterday to show the blocks on the trail was from October of 2016. Yesterday, Cyndie took a picture with the newest blocks in the foreground, which is actually viewing in the opposite direction from the first image.

It’s not an exact comparison, but I like seeing one next to the other.

Can you see how far in the distance the old blocks run in the picture on the right?

2016

2018

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Reminds me a little of the yellow brick road. Oh my!

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Written by johnwhays

April 30, 2018 at 6:00 am

Syrup Again

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Since moving to the country and discovering some of the local treasures around us, Cyndie has purchased pure maple syrup only once a year. It’s that time again! Just a few miles south of Ellsworth, the Stockwell family taps 35 acres of maple trees and collects enough gallons of sap to supply folks with a full year’s worth of syrup, if you have containers to hold it.

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We’ve figured out the routine and bring two 2-quart Mason jars to be placed under the spigot of the large tank and filled with the dark amber bliss every April during the S & S Sugar Bush open house pancake breakfast weekend.

It’s hard to find an event pancake breakfast that isn’t pretty darn good, be it firefighters, boy scouts, legions, or service clubs, but I gotta say the fresh, hot blueberry cakes, sausage, and pure maple syrup combination we enjoyed yesterday morning tasted about as good as I can recall ever experiencing.

Our friends Mike and Barb Wilkus accompanied us, having also joined us for the live Climate Cast at MPR Thursday night and then sleeping over to be available for the Sugar Bush open house. After the scrumptious breakfast, we took a stroll through the woods to witness the number of tapped trees that were supplying the sweet maple sap.

It is impressive to consider the hundreds of gallons of sap running up through the roots of these trees when the spring temperatures are just right —warm during the day and below freezing at night. One of the Stockwell sons described how the percent of sweetness drops in time, but his grandpa would collect the later sap for a vinegar.

The syrup open house has become so precious to us, Cyndie invited more friends to stop by today so she could go again and share the event with them, too. I reckon the delicious pancakes might have something to do with her zeal, as well.

There is another precious annual event that will be happening next week for us. For the second year in a row, Wintervale Ranch will be holding our own open house as a host site for The Labyrinth Society’s World Labyrinth Day Peace Walk. Walk as one at 1.

Around the world, at each location, people will walk and visualize peace at 1:00 p.m. in their time zones, creating a wave of peaceful energy flowing around the globe.

Cyndie has been working to spruce up our labyrinth, despite the lack of growth from the barely thawed landscape. I noticed when Barb and Mike were here and we did a moonlight walk Thursday night that the overnight freezing and daytime warm sunshine was still conspiring to tip over plenty of my rock arrangements.

It sounds like we can expect some rain showers this coming week, so maybe new growth will be exploding in spectacular glory for visitors on Saturday. If the day dawns nearly as spectacular as today, World Labyrinth Day will be a wonderful opportunity to experience the best of Wintervale Ranch.

If you are reading in the Twin Cities area, I hope you will consider joining us!

Saturday, May 5, 2018 between 12:00-3:00 p.m.  Please email cyndie@wintervaleranch.com to register and receive directions.

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Manipulating Neurochemistry

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How are your stress levels today? Don’t think about the answer. Feel it.

Cyndie and I have faced some questions about how we are doing lately. It hasn’t been as easy to answer as usual for us. It was a tough winter, but listing our grievances doesn’t feel good to share. It doesn’t paint the picture as accurately as we know it to be.

Our move to the country and accumulation of animals for which we need to tend has put distance between us and our friends and family. Some connections with people and activities have broken, and only a fraction of new local connections have sprouted in their place.

We have gained a brilliant wealth of new relationships with our animals, and precious though they are, it is not the same.

Yesterday we had an opportunity to drive the suburban roads again that consumed our everyday back when we lived in Eden Prairie. The dramatic contrast to our present-day environment was revealing.

Is it worth it? The struggles to cope with the never-ending challenges of weather and the unrelenting daily routine of required chores to care for our horses, chickens, dog, and cat? Some days, more than others. It’s life. It’s something we chose. (By the way, that’s a luxury –having the choice– that is not lost on us.)

Our challenges can be framed as onerous and laborious; burdens that could be lifted by giving up our animals and moving back to the conveniences and camaraderie of our life-long friends and families in the suburbs.

The difficulties of the last few months, and the years of owning and caring for our animals can also be framed as invigorating, rejuvenating, inspiring, and fulfilling. It is adventure of a very high order.

When we choose to frame the ups and downs of life in the positive, we manipulate our neurochemistry in healthy ways. That is a choice we have power to control. I spent an unfortunate number of years manipulating my biochemistry in the opposite direction by mentally framing my life in the negative.

We won’t prevent harsh realities from challenging our decisions by simply thinking positive all the time, but we will be better served to meet those challenges when we give our brains the healthiest balance of on-going positive neurochemical support possible.

Life here is challenging, but we are doing well. Really well. Thanks for asking.

It feels right.

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Voyage

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Good Fortune

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Some days we count our blessings in terms of the number of potential catastrophes that haven’t happened. Yesterday, in terms of all the things that could go wrong, none of them did.

On the other hand, nothing spectacular happened, either. It was just another day, which is its own sweet blessing of good fortune.

We feel awash in love from all of you who have been sending energy to us since the day in January when Legacy came to the end of his time with us.

It’s hard to tell if we are waiting for something to happen, or simply living what is supposed to happen. Is this it? Is this what our life in the country is all about? Are we living in the moment, giving and receiving everything possible?

It would mean a lot to us if we were to discover we are paying good fortune forward to the universe. The rabbits, squirrels, and song birds seem to be happy enough with having survived another winter. We’ll have to wait for the ground to thaw before we find out if the flora of our property did as well as the critters.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind pulling a Rip Van Winkle until the growing season starts. I’m tired. Wake me when the grass needs to be mowed.

Ah, but it is my good fortune that such thinking is just for fantasy. The truth is, there is something in every single late winter day to enjoy, like the light across the melting snow in the minutes before the sun drops below the horizon.

I wouldn’t want to miss it, even if it involves days that are otherwise unspectacular.

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Written by johnwhays

March 2, 2018 at 7:00 am

Warm Welcomes

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For those who haven’t been paying attention, we’ve reached the last day of February. Geez. It’s like 2018 is half over already. Tomorrow we welcome March to our calendars, historically a month when we can receive whoppers of snow storms in this region. In my youth, that was grand. Now, as a man with property and animal responsibilities, the big late-season storms threaten too much damage potential to be welcomed.

I’ll be pining for calm and boring as winter slowly makes its way into the history books.

After a couple of days back in our own bed again, things are settling back to normal. We are feeling fresh sensations of missing Fred and Marie (as well as Mike and Barb) and our meals and conversation on the lanai beside the pool, with the pond fountain spraying away spectacularly as our backdrop.

I have been enjoying a particularly warm welcome home from our cat, Pequenita. I think she missed me.

Not that Delilah didn’t, but ‘Nita just shows her lust for my attention much more emphatically. She steps right up for some prolonged hands-on contact and melts into a puddle of kneading, purring fur, regardless whatever blog writing I had in mind to accomplish.

On Monday afternoon, we welcomed a new farrier to the ranch, as George wasn’t available and the vet had prescribed some hoof trimming to treat Hunter’s laminitis. Our veterinarian provided a name and Cyndie was able to schedule the visit before we left town last week.

That was another reason I needed to have the driveway opened wide yesterday, after the two trucks had been dug free of the drift. Company was coming!

Hunter was a trooper, and suffered his way through standing on three feet, despite the pain. The new farrier, Marcus, said he tells people to imagine having migraine pain in the hoof. Today, Hunter is standing on a couple of reverse horseshoes, and seems to be okay with it, despite his otherwise having only ever been barefoot.

The reverse shoe supports the heel and relieves pressure at the toe.

We are definitely welcoming any relief Hunter can get. It’s been over a month now that he has been suffering, and pretty much everyone around here is suffering right along with him. It takes a toll.

Here’s hoping March brings calm weather and better health. It’s been a tough winter at Wintervale this year.

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Written by johnwhays

February 28, 2018 at 7:00 am