Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘labyrinth

Sunrise Serenity

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It was about as peaceful as our place can be this morning as Delilah and I made the rounds. The serenity was only interrupted once when Delilah felt the need to respond to the distant barks from a dog far across the valley. The only other sounds humming along were the cooing of the barn pigeons and the munching of four horses happily chomping their feed.

Our labyrinth is glowing with the fall colors in the trees that surround it on three sides.

We are looking forward to a run of several warm and sunny fall days ahead.

I intend to soak up as much serenity as I am able. [big sigh]

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Written by johnwhays

September 26, 2021 at 9:38 am

Rewarding Accomplishments

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On a weekend when we squeezed in two evening trips to the Cities for wonderful social occasions and a surprise visit from sister, Judy, and husband, Scott, Cyndie and I also knocked off mowing and trimming the entire labyrinth of some tall growth. Our growing ground cover has made efficient use of the rain we received last week. The lawn grass is so long already, I need to mow again less than a week after I just finished the whole property.

I took a panoramic photo into the sun to show the freshly coifed labyrinth with the adjacent gazebo and its barely alive vines for a roof cover.

We also made short work yesterday of an inspiration I had to open up a new footpath through an untraveled section of our woods. Untraveled by us, that is. We chose to route it primarily along an obvious path traversed by deer often enough that our eyes were able to discern where they have been walking.

Of course, being deer, they seem to magically navigate through downed or low-hanging branches that entangle us. A bit of pruning and sawing provided quick reward and suddenly we had a whole new shortcut between two existing trails.

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We were so pleased with it, we sauntered back and forth along the new route multiple times, just to enjoy the experience.

It was very rewarding to get two projects off the to-do list, even though one of them had just been spontaneously added the day before. Accomplished, nonetheless.

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Written by johnwhays

August 16, 2021 at 6:00 am

Trouble Starting

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Despite the ongoing dry state of our soil, we’ve got areas of grass that well deserved to be mowed over the weekend, but I never got the chance. The ol’ Craftsman lawn tractor wouldn’t start. Actually, it tried to start several times until it stopped rotating the flywheel and just made a whiny sound. That set off days of trial and error troubleshooting. I thought it was the solenoid, but I was wrong. Then I wondered if it had something to do with the battery. That didn’t appear to be the case.

Next, I wondered if the Kohler engine might be seized, because I couldn’t move it. Then I removed the starter and discovered the engine wasn’t seized. The starter seemed okay, so I mounted it back in place, and lo and behold, the engine spun again. Twice, in fact, before it resumed doing nothing but whining.

Now I have a replacement starter on order.

Since I couldn’t mow with the tractor, I switched to the Stihl power trimmer and headed for the labyrinth.

Once again, we are finding that the earth is slowly swallowing the stones we placed to mark the pathway. Even with the ground hard and dry, the rocks seem to settle ever-deeper, and the grass gladly works its way to cover their edges, pushing them down even more.

The horses are doing their part to keep the paddock grass beautifully mowed.

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It crossed my mind that I could use their expertise on the runaway growth of grass between the barn and the chicken coop while the mower is waiting for its starter.

In the amount of time it would require to install temporary fencing around that area, I could take care of things using the power trimmer. If the ordered part doesn’t arrive on the day advertised, I just might do that.

The starter will be here about the same time the weather is predicted to possibly bring rain. It’s frustrating because we really need the rain, but, at the same time, I really want to get the grass cut.

I may not have trouble starting, at that point, but I just might run into trouble finishing.

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Written by johnwhays

July 12, 2021 at 6:00 am

Trimmer Replaced

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Much as I wrestle over making purchasing decisions, this one was easy-peasy. When Cyndie received the call from the hardware store service desk, the list of damaged parts was so long, she couldn’t remember them all. Cylinder, piston, shaft… Can you say, ‘catastrophic failure?’

She asked what the cost of repair estimate was. She asked what a new trimmer costs.

It was cheaper to buy a new one.

They didn’t have any stock of the exact replacement model, which is on backorder with an unknown date of arrival. However, there was exactly one unit in stock of the next model up. The additional cost put things equal to trying to rebuild the old engine.

The decision didn’t get any harder to make.

Cyndie had them put our name on that trimmer and hustled her way to River Falls to pick it up.

In the nick of time. We are already behind in keeping up with the runaway spring growth of grass in the labyrinth, along our trails, and under our fences. Unfortunately, he or she who isn’t the one using it has to suffer the endless droning of the precious small gas engine.

If I time it right, I can be under ear-muffs and mowing on the lawn tractor while Cyndie is trimming.

Of course, the glorious quiet when we finally stop the engines is always a little sweeter when the moment arrives. That adds incentive to trim quickly and make short work of the miles in desperate need of being cut.

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Survey Results

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We walked around in search of trillium yesterday and found mixed results. I think in my next transplant effort I will keep them closer to each other upon replant. Here is a view of three I planted:

No flowers, but the two at the top each have new sets of three leaves appearing beneath them. Is this the expansion underway that I seek? Better than finding none at all. In other locations, we struggled to find all three points of a triangle where I would have planted them. Sometimes two, sometimes only one.

At the same time, we did find several isolated trilliums with flowers located in places where neither of us remembers having transplanted any.

New growth on the ground in the forest is rather sparse this spring, maybe in a reflection of the uncharacteristic dry conditions we are experiencing.

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The photo on the left above is an example of new shoots appearing beneath the one with the flower, which excites us with hope that more could result in the future. The image on the right is an example of a lone trillium with little else of any variety seeming to flourish much.

It just might be a slim year of growth. Yesterday’s passing clouds never spit enough sprinkles out to simply wet the ground surface. We are forced to try to do some watering outselves.

I turned on the water to the labyrinth and we transplanted one more vine from where it was trying to strangle a tree to one of the legs of the gazebo. This will be the first year of an attempt to grow a canopy of leaves as the cover of the gazebo instead of the old canvas that was getting threadbare.

Nothing like trying to inspire new growth during a time of drought.

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Written by johnwhays

May 15, 2021 at 8:51 am

Contemplative Shuffling

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It appears that even deer recognize the benefits of walking the labyrinth path. Before we entered, Cyndie took a picture of the footprints on the path.

It looked impressive to see them so perfectly following the trail but after the first turn the deer tracks veered off across the paths and disappeared into the woods. I picked up from there and plodded along on snowshoes to lay down the proper series of turns and pass-throughs to reach the center.

By the time I finished, the overcast daylight was beginning to wane and the color of the image took on a different hue.

There were multiple turns where my double-stack of stones had toppled and were frozen to the ground in the middle of the pathway, but the primary route is now fully established in the base layer of snow. May it remain visible for the duration of snowfall through the end of the season.

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Written by johnwhays

December 27, 2020 at 11:00 am

Adding Lattice

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On a gift of a day in late November when warmth and sunshine belied the proximity to winter and scores of others were hanging Christmas lights on their homes, Cyndie and I were weaving branches into the frame of our gazebo.

The inspiration struck a few weeks ago when I was pulling down the aging canvas canopy in preparation for the onset of winter. The old cover had long ago faded from the original brown color to a silvery-blue and the fabric fibers, weakened by the relentless bombardment of solar rays, were breaking around the edges.

I was pretty sure it didn’t have another summer of life left, so I considered alternatives. A natural canopy of live vines would provide shade in summer and leaves would fall off for the winter so I wouldn’t need to do any additional work.

All I needed to do was convince Cyndie the idea had merit. Since we share a similar perspective about these kinds of things, she was all in.

While I was taking a few weeks to think through how I might execute my vision, Cyndie was thinning our woods of saplings in preparation.

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First, we wove one long stick along the front face, then, two. Continuing around the four sides, we worked our way up. The closer we got to the top, the harder it was to weave the branches through, so we switched to cuttings from wild grapevines.

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Next spring, we will transplant some wild vines from our woods to the four legs of the gazebo in hopes of establishing a natural canopy that thrives on the massive exposure of direct sunlight.

My only trepidation is about how much snow might collect throughout winter to stress the modest strength of the metal framework. I expect it will depend on how wet or dry the snowfalls are and how frequently separate snow events will occur.

It’s a gamble we are willing to wage. I figure, worst case, I could use more cut trees from our woods to prop up the frame in places where the metal shows signs of buckling. The whole thing is already flexed out of level due to the lack of solid footings. We merely set the four legs on spots I prepared when we moved the gazebo to this spot beside the labyrinth. The ground in those spots has not shifted in unison from the subsequent seasons of freeze/thaw cycles.

The structure has a quaint “askew” look that I expect will fit nicely with the vision I have for a natural canopy of living green growth by the middle of summer.

For now, we just watch and wait.

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Written by johnwhays

November 29, 2020 at 11:05 am

Glazed Labyrinth

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Our little mess of weather that couldn’t make up its mind about being rain, ice, or snow ended up being a little of all three earlier this week. It was a little intimidating at the time, but created some nice scenery.

At least I didn’t need to plow or shovel. It was a little crunchy walking the dog over frozen grass and leaves. I am reveling over the fact that for once we weren’t the zone that received the most snow.

Our chickens appear to have enough sense to stay under shelter in times of freezing rain. They hung out under the barn overhang for the most part. Looks like they’ll have at least one more break from full-time winter in the week ahead with daytime temperatures expected to rise above freezing.

So, in case you hadn’t noticed yet this morning, it’s Friday the 13th today. In the year 2020. That seems kind of redundant, doesn’t it?

Tolerating the reality of exponential numbers of spreading virus cases during a global pandemic makes Friday the 13th seem almost quaint.

It could be a good day to walk the crunchy labyrinth and focus our mental energy on positive possibilities. Peace, love, good health, absence of false accusations, full compliance to COVID safety practices by all people, and children able to learn in school full time.

Oooommmmmmmm.

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Written by johnwhays

November 13, 2020 at 7:00 am

Delilah Helping

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While Cyndie and I were playing around with building more robust stone borders in the labyrinth over the weekend, we enjoyed some special company from Delilah. Even though she couldn’t pick up any of the rocks, she made a very notable point of being as present as possible in a clear gesture of moral support.

Normally, when we secure her leash somewhere while we are focused on a project, she sets off exploring every distance she can reach, seeking out any potential burrs she can collect in her thick coat or digging ferociously after some tunneling rodent in pursuit of entirely selfish entertainment.

On Labor Day Monday, she came over as close to “in my way” as possible, at the farthest reach of the leash that strained against her harness, and laid down to “supervise” my work. It was such uncharacteristic behavior, I paused to take a picture of her.

I didn’t realize at the time that I was also going to capture Cyndie in the background setting down a rock the size of the soccer ball with such little apparent effort that it looked to be as light as a soccer ball, too.

I assure you, none of the rocks that size were light. My back and legs second that assurance. We moved some heavy stones over the weekend.

We worked so hard, I think we tired out Delilah.

A short time later, I noticed she had laid her head down, using a rock for a pillow, and closed her eyes for a little nap, still at the far reach of her leash.

I think she was telling us the labyrinth is a very comfortable place to be.

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Written by johnwhays

September 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Heavy Lifting

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For our Labor Day holiday three-day weekend during this pandemic, we have chosen to stay home but we wanted to spend some time together working on a project that was as much fun as it was a productive accomplishment. With no negotiation required, we both felt an equal desire to put some focus on collecting more rocks for our labyrinth.

There are several very old stockpiles of rocks in our woods from past farmers clearing their fields that we periodically mine for ideal specimens. It is difficult work because the adjacent wooded acres have expanded to swallow the piles and years of accumulating sediment have buried all but just the top portion of some wonderful rocks that need to be excavated.

Since the extra effort it takes to get rocks from these locations tends to limit progress at any given time, we expanded our range yesterday to piles on the edge of our neighbor’s property so we could make a bigger impact on the labyrinth enhancement. It paid off handsomely.

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It was quickly apparent how much the previous rocks defining the labyrinth path have settled into the earth, some almost disappearing from sight.

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I don’t know why I would choose to wear a white shirt to wrestle rocks all day long. That’s an image of a guy who hugs dirty rocks.

By the end of the day yesterday, we were physically exhausted but emotionally energized to see a least two rows improved one step closer to the vision we share of how we’d like the borders to look someday. It will continue to be an ongoing project that advances in fits and starts.

Like building a jigsaw puzzle, the urge to make progress arises in proportion to the progress recently made. This morning, all I want to do is go back down there and add more rocks.

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Written by johnwhays

September 6, 2020 at 9:57 am