Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘labyrinth garden

Last Cut

leave a comment »

I know this cat named Pequenita who is highly skilled at showing up for scratches at the precise time that I want to use both of my hands to type on my laptop computer. She seems to know that I can’t resist her demands for attention.

Today, we head to Edina for the weekend to participate in Friswold family activities surrounding a graveside memorial service for Fred on Saturday. Please keep Cyndie and her family in your hearts and beam your love when you think of them.

In preparation for being away from home for the weekend, I jumped on the lawn tractor as soon as I got home from work yesterday afternoon to tackle the project of cutting the grass shorter than normal for the late-season mowing session. The short cut left a lot of grass clippings behind that I am going to need to sweep up.

In addition to the excessive clippings, the early cold snap and noticeably shorter daylight hours brought on dew that had me cutting some wet grass before I was through. The amount of grass stuck to the bottom of the mower deck was epic. I disconnected the mower from the tractor and struggled mightily to lift the deck for cleaning. It weighed a ton!

The whole project was a little too much for the short time I had available, so the finishing touches will come later. I still may end up needing to cut some areas another time before winter, but I’m hoping most of the mowing is now done for the season.

I’m at that point of wanting to use up the last of the gas in the mower before parking that tractor for the winter.

When I was cutting down by the labyrinth, I had to work around a couple of rocks that had tumbled from one of my recent precarious balance installations.

It’s all good fun until you neglect to pick up the fallen rocks. Those two have returned to ground level and interfered with grass cutting in the vicinity. Far be it from me to stop and get off the tractor to move them. I just forged ahead, cutting around the obstacles to keep going uninterrupted.

During our work down at the labyrinth last week, I took a picture of the center boulders and the miscellaneous additions scattered around them.

It wasn’t getting much attention during our sessions of adding rocks to the path borders, but it is the center point destination of the journey inward, after all.

The future star of the labyrinth garden, that maple tree we transplanted to the middle, will someday, long after I’m gone, tower over the paths.

Maybe by that time, the shade it will provide can dissuade the grass from growing so fast beneath its branches.

I will be happy if we’ve already made the last cut of labyrinth grass for the season. We will be making tracks in snow down there again before too long.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 11, 2020 at 6:00 am

Three Trees

with 2 comments

Cyndie sent me this image yesterday and what caught my eye was the combination of three of the trees we have planted in our time here were all in the frame.

On the left is a crab apple in blossom.

On the right is a hydrangea that Cyndie planted beside her labyrinth. When we moved the gazebo last year, that tree needed to be relocated to the opposite perimeter.

In the background is a maple that we moved from beneath one of our big old maples a short distance away to the east. That little maple offspring is now all by itself in the center of the labyrinth.

All three trees have gone through a lot in these new locations. The hydrangea is showing some green this spring, but we think it is a last gasp before the end. We were thrilled to see it didn’t appear to look shocked after the last transplantation, but then, later in the summer, a limb dropped off and revealed a spongy wound that showed little sign of healthy life.

I didn’t expect to see any leaves this spring, so what did sprout has me curious to see what another year might bring.

The most rewarding of the three is that maple. It was our fourth try to get a maple of that size to survive the trauma of the move to the middle of the labyrinth. I like to imagine what it will look like in a hundred years when it towers over the circuitous garden.

I hope to live long enough to see what a 20-year-old tree looks like in the labyrinth.

In the meantime, we are thoroughly enjoying all of them, just the way they are each day.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

May 26, 2020 at 6:00 am

Final Touches

with one comment

With the big job of moving the gazebo done, thanks to our kids’ help, Cyndie and I made some final tweaks yesterday to complete the new setup. As so often occurs, a plan with one thing in mind expands to several others that need to happen first, to reach the ultimate goal.

Our main objectives were to level the base beneath the bench seat and move the hydrangea tree by transplanting it to a different spot around the labyrinth. We quickly agreed that the place where we put a gracefully rotating section of a tree trunk to stand as a visual attraction would be ideal for the hydrangea.

That old trunk was starting to disintegrate anyway, under the combined pressure of many woodpeckers and natural decay. When we struggled to pick it up, we discovered it hadn’t lost as much mass as appearance led us to suspect, but it looked beat up enough that we didn’t feel bad booting it from its prominent spot.

In the image above, you can see the trunk is now farther out on the left. The hydrangea tree is front and center, garnished with a fresh mulch of wood chips I made on Friday.

Before we transplanted the tree, we wanted to have water available, so I needed to get a hose and turn on the spigot up at the house. That required that the four-way splitter that was removed from the spigot last fall needed to be found. I’m sure we thought we were being obvious when we stowed it away eight months ago.

I was proud of myself when I remembered to grab a level for the bench at the same time I was retrieving a hose from the shop garage. Unfortunately, I needed to send Cyndie back up to find the hose splitter for the spigot.

While she was gone, I trimmed the golden weigela bushes that were on either side of the bench, and now being crowded by the gazebo.

Relocating the hydrangea tree was the most rewarding, as that completely opened up the primary access to the gazebo and bench, which also just happens to serve as an archway entrance to one of our trails into the woods.

It looks odd to no longer see the gazebo in its old spot above the round pen, but we are very happy with the new location beside the labyrinth where it is bound to get much more use.

In addition, this opens up the old spot to easier cutting and raking for hay. We have connected with neighbors who were thrilled with the opportunity to cut and bale our fields for their growing herd of llamas. For a while there, we were a little worried that all the effort we had put into improving our fields would be lost if the weeds were given a chance to return unchallenged.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

Boulders Rocking

leave a comment »

While we were standing around the center of labyrinth Wednesday night, I glanced at the big boulders and immediately sensed something seemed different. One of them seems to be settling into an increased lean away from the other. It comes as no surprise, since the soil is so incredibly saturated around here. dscn5410e

It has me wondering what it will be like this winter when the ground freezes. Will the excess water in the surface soil create more in the way of heaving? Could those boulders get pushed over on their sides?

Maybe when the tree finally gets established, we can get rid of the boulders altogether and let the maple take their place.

What do I mean by we ? By the time that happens, I probably won’t be around anymore and those decisions will likely be someone else’s to make.

For this moment, I am going to work on tending to the boulders to the best of my ability, while also finding a way to adjust my attitude so that I will accept the unexpected results that nature serves up.

I’m sure hoping that nature will serve up a healthy and vibrant transplanted tree. If that happens, I will find it much less concerning if/when the boulders shift into a new and different orientation from the one with which we started.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 4, 2016 at 6:00 am

Trying Again

leave a comment »

Despite a strong inclination I have had to just shut up about the tree transplanting —at least until we finally meet with success in this one particular spot— I can’t stop myself from reporting the story. We have waited for most of the summer to pull out the previous dead tree from the center of the labyrinth, even though it was long ago obvious it hadn’t survived.dscn5387e

There was no hurry, because our plan for the next attempt was to wait until the trees drop their leaves before trying again.

The trees have dropped their leaves.

Earlier in the summer, when we knew we would need to try again, I searched through the saplings beneath the magnificent maple tree that has been my inspiration all along. I like envisioning what one of the offspring of that beauty will look like in the middle of the labyrinth garden when it reaches the same maturity of years.

I selected and marked a tree that I liked. Then we waited.

Yesterday was the day we picked to execute our fourth try at transplanting one of our maple trees to the center of the labyrinth. Cyndie dug out the hole in preparation and when I got home from work, we set about the challenging task of extricating our selection from the spot where it originated.

dscn5388eIt didn’t want to come out easily.

With daylight fading, we finally wrested our new hope from the earth’s grasp. Using a wheelbarrow, we transported the tree to the labyrinth and slid it into the hole.

With all the tender loving care we could muster, we prepared the new home for this tree. Now we wait. Nature needs to do the rest.

And if it doesn’t take, I’m just going to keep trying, all the while debating whether I will do so covertly, or choose to continue chronicling the possible repetition of failures.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 3, 2016 at 6:00 am

Four Years

leave a comment »

I was reviewing the “Previous Somethings” archive for some posts that I published four years ago and came upon a picture that means so much to me. During our very first visit in 2012 to see this property with our realtor, I was so overwhelmed by the experience that I hardly took any pictures.

This is one of the few I had for remembering what we had seen, to help me describe the place to family and friends. We had walked a short loop of the trails and I dropped behind Cyndie and Patti while dizzily trying to comprehend what I was experiencing. The place was beyond my wildest imaginings for us.

I came to my senses for a moment and remembered my camera. I captured Cyndie and Patti walking in the distance on a mowed path through one of the fields.

IMG_0902e

They are walking in a spot that today is about where the entrance to the labyrinth garden is, on their left. The tall weeds on the right are now what we call the Back Pasture, surrounded by a fence.

These are some recent shots of how that spot looks now.

dscn5216eIMG_iP1534e.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I get a shiver thinking about that first impression and our visions of the possibilities, combined with the realization of all that has come to be in the four years since.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Not Much

leave a comment »

I moved the trail cam over the weekend and am not happy with the results. I wanted to try a more open area so there would be less branch clutter in the foreground of the view.

I chose the labyrinth garden.

M2E120L227-226R392B382

I’m not sure why, but the result was picture after picture with no discernible activity. Over a hundred in two days.

Birds, maybe?

There were surprisingly few images during darkness. However, we did get a tiny glimpse of one animal that was conspicuously absent from all the images captured when we had the camera stationed on the trail in the woods…

M2E1L0-0R336B386

Shy little bugger, she. That was all the further she moved into the field of view at 4:30 in the morning.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

March 22, 2016 at 6:00 am

Comes Around

leave a comment »

Last year, when I was home full-time, I often looked forward to the moment when Cyndie would arrive home from work and cruise up the driveway where she could see the results of my day’s effort on some project or another. Of course, this only worked if she made it home before dark, which is a tough thing to do during the period when the sun sets before 5:00 in the afternoon.

Sadly, more often than not, I would need to prompt for some feedback, and the response tended to reveal that she hadn’t noticed a thing. After the long commute, just reaching the driveway safely becomes the primary milestone of note, which tends to swamp the senses and blur specific details that may have been noteworthy.

Yesterday, after I pulled up the driveway, I did see the horses grazing in the hay-field nearby, but after that, pretty much a blur. I found Delilah waiting on the other side of the door, as I walked into the house, but no Cyndie. After a wonderfully happy greeting from our dog, I watched her move to the doors beside the fireplace which provide a view beyond our deck to the back yard hill that slopes down to the labyrinth garden.

With no leaves on the trees, it was easy to spot Cyndie pushing the reel mower on the path of the labyrinth. Delilah anxiously followed her master’s every move in the distance. That dog really bonds with the person who is home with her all day.

When Cyndie eventually made her way back up to the house, she promptly asked me how the place looked when I pulled in.

Busted.

I hadn’t noticed all the work she had labored to accomplish on her own while I was away. I felt awful to have missed it, and I gained a new appreciation for what it was like for her last year, before our roles became reversed.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

November 3, 2015 at 7:00 am

Precious Peace

leave a comment »

This morning the temperature was September-chilly when we woke up. We built the first fire of the season in our living room fireplace. It is my favorite time of year. Cyndie collected some of our wild American plums that are falling off the branches (they’re about the size of a cherry), with a plan to make jam. The sunlight is painting the trees at a noticeably different angle. The constant transition of seasons is entering one of those phases of being more obvious.

DSCN2331eI was working in the labyrinth garden yesterday afternoon under a cool cloud cover and once again the herd made their way over to graze in close proximity. Delilah was mostly well-behaved and as I raked up grass cuttings from the previous day, I found myself in the midst of a most precious and peaceful working environment.

(Speaking of peaceful, as I write this, Pequenita has arisen from her warm curled sleep at the opposite corner of our bed to come lay on my chest and purr. She must have sensed what I was writing about.)

The power of that herd to settle Delilah and swaddle me in a blissful calm is precious. I get the impression that they recognize what Cyndie and I endeavor to create with this labyrinth garden. It seems as though they are letting us know we have their full support.

DSCN2332e.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

September 6, 2014 at 9:51 am

Impermanence Is

with 2 comments

On Saturday, Cyndie and I enjoyed some blissful moments tending to our labyrinth garden. The horses noticed our activity and wandered over to graze beside us while we toiled. Cyndie pulled weeds and I did some rock-work to add robustness to the entrance of the center circle.

DSCN2316e

It has become apparent that one of the two boulders in the center is leaning away from where we originally placed it. I’m hoping to pull it back upright with some manner of rigging and then see if there will be a way to prop it up with a small rock beneath.

The almost imperceptible movement of that huge rock is a gentle reminder to us that things we tend to assume are static —permanent, even— are nothing of the sort. I need to keep that in mind and endeavor to incorporate that reality into my designs for enhancements to our property.

I guess the trail I recently worked to reclaim is another classic example. It will not remain a trail without regular maintenance. Another obvious example that comes to mind is how much erosion is occurring in our paddocks after the summer rains. Before the horses were in those spaces, there was grass growing everywhere, which worked to hold the soil in place. That is no longer the case.

Beyond all the intentional infrastructure improvements we have done —clearing brush, adding fences, creating new drive paths— there are natural changes happening all the time. There will never be an absence of change. Everything and everyone is in constant transition, and at a continually varying rate of change.

Impermanence is.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

August 31, 2014 at 8:04 am