Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘global warming

Wind Blown

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If this weren’t a time when the obvious effects of global warming were well known I might think the local weather was some sort of plot by the universe to drive me insane. The dramatic swings between too warm and bitterly cold in a matter of hours every other day is crazy making.

After a biting cold 0°F start to the day, yesterday’s high temperature climbed to 36°F under a hazy sky, but the short-lived meltdown was obscured by the sudden arrival of gale force winds that audibly flexed the integrity of our log home. The gusts whipped in a hasty change of temperature that dropped us to 7 degrees below zero this morning.

Thankfully, the wind has stopped, for now, and the sun is out, bathing the horses in its relative warmth. The forecast for tonight suggests a return of breezy conditions and tomorrow, a high of 43°F.

Freezing and thawing at this rate at this point in winter is harsh.

During the morning feeding yesterday, I heard a strange noise all of a sudden on the roof of the barn. Looking out the door revealed a downburst of what I call “Dippin’ Dots®” snow, which seemed unlikely at the cold temperature.

It looks similar to styrofoam.

The wind was sweeping off any flakes that hadn’t melted into the general mass of our snowpack and leaving much of the “dots” behind.

Coming out of the woods on our walk, Delilah and I stopped to watch the spectacle of dancing “snow-devils” gyrating in the distance across the hayfield where there was no shelter from the hurling wind.

After the evening feeding was complete and the sun was getting low in the sky, we were eager to get back to the house and out of the wind for the day.

Thankfully, Delilah is keen enough to not require a walk when it is time for a bedtime potty break. We stepped out the door, she squats to pee, and we are back inside before there is time to feel abused by the wind.

As the planet warms, the local weather seems to grow increasingly bizarre. It has me wondering what weirdness might be unleashed come spring.

Gale force winds, maybe?

I guess that wouldn’t be all that bizarre. Maybe it will be exceedingly perfect and usual. That would definitely seem strange.



Written by johnwhays

February 19, 2022 at 11:05 am

Short Shift

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I had a very short shift of animal care last night while Cyndie was at her mother’s house for the night. Delilah seemed thrilled that we could walk through our woods again, now that the deer hunting season is over. The temperature was in the 50s(F) which seems really strange for any day in December, but not all that surprising now that the global climate is being cooked.

The warmth seems to have kicked our burrowing rodents into high gear. By the size of some of the fresh dirt piles showing up they must be building extravagant palaces beneath the turf. The soil they bring up looks so pristine. I really should collect it for future use. Not a stone to be found among the mounds of wonderfully sifted dirt.

Our habit is usually to just stomp the piles flat again but there was just too much dirt for that yesterday. I couldn’t pound them down enough so I decided to kick them around, instead. A little like kickin’ horse manure in the pastures.

I found the horses to be incredibly serene when we showed up to serve the feed pans with afternoon rations. It probably rubbed off on Delilah because she barely made a fuss while waiting for me to finish, barking only briefly at nothing in particular.

In less than an hour, all the animals were taken care of and I had the night free to lose myself in the first episode of the 3-part documentary, The Beatles: Get Back, directed by Peter Jackson.

Lose myself, I did.

I am eternally grateful to the fab four for allowing themselves to be filmed at the time and indebted to the camera operators and sound technicians who successfully captured so many hours of unscripted randomness. That we can all watch this unique footage some fifty-plus years later is remarkable to me.

With two more episodes to go, this documentary is the opposite of a short shift, and I will savor every drawn-out moment.



Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2021 at 7:00 am

Color Gradient

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It caught my eye right away as I passed by and after a few steps beyond I realized I needed to stop and go back.

Look at the color gradient happening here.

Nature putting on a show, plain and simple.

These spectacles are dwindling. There is now a lot more brown on the ground than colors on the branches, which makes these little surprises all the more special.

Our days of summery October are numbered I’m afraid. Near-term forecasts suggest high temperatures in the 50s(F) and lows below freezing.

In preparation, yesterday we flushed the water out of the buried line to the labyrinth and rolled up the last of our long garden hoses. Getting that chore done while still being able to wear a T-shirt outdoors in October is a rarity.

It’s so odd to know the warmth is ominous for the planet while it is also making it more comfortable to work outside this October.



Written by johnwhays

October 20, 2021 at 6:00 am

Just Being

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So, I never did get around to draining hoses yesterday, but I did get to hang out with the horses and eventually wrestle with an unfamiliar image editing program.

After the horses finished cleaning their feed pans yesterday in the cold morning air, I noticed the three dark mares position themselves sideways against the sunlight to soak up some warmth. Mix, being a gray, didn’t seem to receive the same reward and thus showed no similar tendency to assume that position.

As the day warmed up, the tables turned. The horses have a good start on their winter coat, which is nice in the morning when it is cold, but when the temperature gets summerlike, those brown coats head for the shade.

Mix didn’t seem to be bothered at all.

Still, when nap time started to come upon them, Mix was quick to join the herd under the tree. They looked so peaceful there, I decided it would be a good time to stand among them.

I recorded a bit of my experience so you could enjoy a taste of what it was like.



No wonder I didn’t get around to draining hoses. I did end up mowing some grass for another last time this season. Today, I am going for a bike ride with friends.

When summer temperatures linger into October at our latitude on the globe, it invites all sorts of summery behaviors.



Written by johnwhays

October 17, 2021 at 8:00 am

Rearranging Fiddles

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I’m sorry to lead off with a fresh version of being a “Debby-Downer” but reports on my radio during the commute home yesterday left me feeling like we are all just playing fiddles and rearranging deck chairs while Rome is burning and the Titanic is sinking.

There were multiple topics that wracked my sensibilities but the kicker was a statement –the umpteenmillionth from climate scientists– that we need to take action RIGHT NOW! to avert global climate calamity, or else.

Yep. We sure do. Meanwhile, all the fossil-fuel-burning cars around me, mine included, just kept driving down the road. Coal-burning power plants kept burning. The lights stayed on. Factories kept churning. Politicians towed their party lines.

Honestly, it sounded like the siren call that should have tripped some magical trigger forcing everyone to stop the runaway train right now. Instantly jump us all back to the early days of the industrial revolution and use present-day knowledge to solve the challenges of replacing old ways with new ones.

Instead, the way we are going, the poorest people are paying the brunt of costs during this gradual intensifying of impactful events going on around the world in the form of heatwaves, drought, fires, and floods.

It just feels so wrong to keep carrying on with normal activity while we are sinking/burning.

At the same time, it also feels wrong to mope about it, so that challenge is available to address in the face of the slow catastrophe unfolding across the world. There are people devising brilliant alternatives for the things that contribute to the climate crisis. We need to grab the threads of these alternatives and inflate the possibilities of change for the better.

Set down our fiddles, leave the deck chairs as they are.

Let’s replace old ways with new ones without waiting for countries and governments to lead us to action.

I’ll be turning down the radio during the stories about global warming for while.





Written by johnwhays

October 6, 2021 at 6:00 am

Maximum Transition

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Wintervale is currently undergoing the full range of extremes in the transition from green tree leaves to none at all.

Very few of our trees seem to reach peak color on every branch at the same time. The majority become a mosaic of the original green that seems to resist the inevitable, the ultimate brilliance of autumn color, and the shriveling past-peak remnants bound to fall to the ground within hours.

The tree in the above image was sporting the most vivid reds two days ago. Yesterday, I noticed some of them just kept getting a deeper and deeper red until becoming almost black. Most of those have now fallen to the pavement below. Yet, there is still a limb or two with completely green leaves.

We experienced a couple of heavy rain showers yesterday, which surely contributed to bringing down batches of leaves en masse.

We are socked in with low cloud cover this morning which effectively dulls every view, but despite the few trees that have dropped many leaves in the last 24 hours, it still looks pretty special. I captured a long view yesterday before all the blue sky and sunshine completely disappeared.

The horses are growing their winter coats and the extended warmth and humidity we are experiencing had them sweating. The swing away from that to this morning’s cooler, wetter, and cloudier conditions provide a welcome change.

The season of bare tree branches is nigh.



Written by johnwhays

October 3, 2021 at 10:16 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.



Written by johnwhays

September 25, 2021 at 9:37 am

Really Happening

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It’s happening right before our eyes. The changes currently playing out on our planet are no longer just scientific theories. They are actual events. Record high temperatures. Droughts. Wildfires. Floods. Thawing permafrost. Rising sea levels. Shrinking glaciers.

I’ve tried to mentally prepare for the possibility of any of the first four catastrophes directly impacting our property, but the thing we are dealing with currently is only peripherally related to the wildfires burning in Canada just to our north. Our air quality is so bad the Pollution Control Agency is advising we avoid being outside and breathing the smoke particulate matter.

Measurements are reaching record levels for Minnesota.

We should probably hold more meetings to discuss how we can reduce our carbon emissions to net-zero by some future date. [sarcasm]

I asked Cyndie if we have any idea what to do in the case of a wildfire suddenly bearing down on our location. She said we should paint our phone number on the horses.

I’m sure they would be fine with that if we were able to find any paint and get them to stand still during the highly emotional panic that would be occurring as a fire threat is bearing down on our property.

Even though the dramatic stories of lost lives and property in the recent floods in Germany and China and the ongoing Bootleg fire in Oregon depict the trauma at the epicenter of such events, life at home feels strangely distanced.

Our horses are calm. Their grass is dryer than optimum, the flies are a constant nuisance, the temperatures are getting too hot again, and the smoky air makes breathing less fun, but they aren’t ones to complain. I sense they may still be contemplating whether the situation they now find themselves in –living out their days in comfort and safety with us– is for real, or not.

Based on my assessment of the reality of global climate calamities playing out in plain view right now, I can understand any hesitations they might have about the comfort and safety part.

There should be no denying anymore that the ramifications of human activity causing increased concentrations of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere are already playing out.

It really is already happening, whether people collectively acknowledge it, or not.

Every day that I don’t have to drive my fossil-fueled car anywhere is a tiny victory in my effort to reconcile still living with a carbon footprint that reflects how we got into this climate predicament in the first place.

May we all keep looking for individual ways to do something helpful, or simply stop doing things that are hurtful, long before governments and greater society finally get around to enacting more broadly effective changes.

I look forward to that really happening.



Windows Open

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What a joy it is to be able to open our windows to the fresh spring air after months of being closed to the winter. Our thermometer registered a temp of 80°(F) for a bit and then dropped down when some clouds moved in. The clouds didn’t last and the temperature jumped back up with the return of direct sunlight.

We took a break from doing any major projects and enjoyed brunch with our visiting kids. Cyndie sent them home with grocery bags of leftovers and a few dozen free-range eggs.

I did sneak in a little time to give my bike a thorough spring cleaning. I pumped up the tires and oiled the chain in preparation for my first ride in two years.

At dusk, I stood out on the deck in the residual warmth of the day and watched Cyndie puttering around with her garden while she waited for the chickens to make their way into the coop for the night. We couldn’t see it, but somewhere there was an outdoor fire burning that gave the evening a comforting ambiance.

A pair of bats flitted about overhead, doing loops at several difference elevations.

Stepping back into the house, I was struck by how luxurious our home in the country is and how lucky we are to live here. Even more so during the pandemic.

I wonder what it will be like here in the coming years of continued warming of our planet.

At least we should be able to open our windows earlier and earlier each spring.

What a great milestone that is every year.



Written by johnwhays

April 5, 2021 at 6:00 am

Virus Mania

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It’s as if there is some sort of pandemic or something. The coronavirus is everywhere. That invisible little bug that half the people think is being way over-hyped while over a million others are dead from and hospitals are being stretched beyond capacity is not magically disappearing in the way some hoped.

Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

Radio on-the-street interviews capture a scary number of people who complain they are tired of the pandemic and frustrated with officials who are struggling to mandate protocols that can limit the spread. Not the proudest moment for the human race.

Staying home all the time is too hard. Really? How hard is it?

What if we had to practice avoiding others for a whole year? I don’t know. Maybe try imagining how hostages who are held for four times that long muster the ability to cope.

We have the promise of vaccines to look forward to, so the beginning of the resolution of the pandemic is within sight. It would be nice if people could rise to the occasion of not making things any worse than they already are while we work through the process of vaccine distribution on the way to achieving herd immunity.

Try pretending that it isn’t a hoax. Play along with us for a little while, for the good of the rest of the world population.

After it’s all over, maybe all the people who have lost jobs and businesses can be retrained to become firefighters or search and rescue EMTs to deal with the increasing wildfires and flooding hurricanes that global warming has continued to exacerbate while we have been distracted.

Just call me little miss sunshine this morning.

Forgive me. I’m just reacting sideways to the unending reports of GOP and White House lunacy stinking up the remnants of our democratic election here in the U.S.

I trust there is hope for a better day hiding out there somewhere. [Insert joke about expecting to find a pony in here someplace.]

I’ll keep digging. And staying home as much as possible.



Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2020 at 7:00 am