Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘labyrinth

Many Hands

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From the moment we arranged the two boulders in the center location of what was to become the Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth, I envisioned a third stone resting upon them. The first challenge to fulfilling that vision was finding the right stone.

It needed to be the right shape and size, which I knew would mean the perfect stone would be too heavy for me to lift.

My quest for the specific stone was complicated by the fact that, without significant disruption, I couldn’t use trial and error to decide. Dealing with a such a heavy stone would mean the first one placed in that spot would likely be the only one placed in that spot.

Over the years, I experimented with light-weight objects to assist my eye for identifying what size and shape of rock I was looking for. Perfection proved to be hard to come by among the rock piles around our property, but last year I finally found one that had good potential.

It was buried in the woods, located conveniently close to the labyrinth. Using a small piece of woven fence panel and a strap, I created a sling to move it. Then I enlisted Cyndie –back when she still had two strong shoulders– to see if two people could do it.

It worked, enough to prove the concept, anyway. We stopped after getting it to the edge of the trail. There it sat for most of the year, because I wasn’t sure how to safely get it lifted high enough to position it atop the two boulders.

Yesterday, I realized we had the many hands of adventurous strong guys available to make the work light.

It’s a whole ‘nother story that we hosted a gathering at Wintervale with the families of Cyndie’s late aunt, Joan Brolin, to celebrate Christmas in September. That tale will likely get told in coming days.

I hadn’t thought about it in advance, but conversation somehow led to the topic of my wanting to figure out how to lift the heavy stone and place it. Cyndie’s brother, Steve, shared a video about a man who could move heavy objects by himself, using simple aids.

Cyndie’s cousin, Tom, thought we had enough hands and wanted to check it out. I grabbed a tape measure for one last confirmation that this stone would be the right size for what I was hoping to accomplish.

With little in the way of complications, five of us were able to move it, lift it high enough, roll it into place, and then rock it into a position that was stable.

It was an extremely satisfying triumphant moment for me.

Thank you to Cyndie’s brothers, Ben and Steve, and cousins Tom and Mike for helping fulfill my dream. And thank you to my daughter, Elysa, for capturing the event on my phone.

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Written by johnwhays

September 17, 2017 at 8:44 am

Getting Orange

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Things are growing more orange around here. Yesterday at breakfast, Cyndie called me to come look at the difference in color of our eggs, compared to the ones purchased at the grocery store. Looks like the free-range diet of our three chickens is producing deep color in the yolks, seen on the right, below.

We spent the Labor Day holiday doing a lot of work, for a day off. Starting with a couple of hours cleaning out the compost area, using the loader bucket on the diesel tractor. There’s now plenty of room to store a winter’s worth of manure, just in case winter gets around to showing up.

Then we split up and Cyndie used the power trimmer in the labyrinth, while I entered a race against time to get the hayfield mowed before it rained.

Looking back toward the horses, I spotted another splash of orange color erupting from the green of our tree line.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like September.

At the end of a long day’s effort, we put our tools away and headed for the house under the drops of a perfect late-summer rain shower.

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Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2017 at 6:00 am

Coming Around

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A day later, I’m coming around to the idea that I will be able to figure out a modification that will sub-divide the coop into two smaller apartments. I guess I just need to whine about it first. Upon further review, I’m pretty sure we can come up with something that can work.

Maybe my knee-jerk reaction of pessimism is a way of balancing Cyndie’s unbridled optimism on projects like this. If I don’t think I can do it, she will take care of it herself, regardless her rather unreliable spatial relations perception, and currently, her limit of only one available arm.

Don’t for one minute assume her having only one useable arm has stopped her from accomplishing anything. It slows her down a little bit, but she still has managed to do way more than seems possible around here.

I felt a little like the questionable photographer when I kept snapping shots of her struggling to scoop piles of grass that we had raked up. Sure, I could have set the camera down and helped her, but she was actually doing pretty well without me.

As soon as I finished raking, I took over the scooping chore from her and she wandered away to a different spot to pull weeds.

We opened up the back pasture to the horses so they could keep us company while we worked, but they weren’t our only companions. Delilah, who Cyndie had tethered nearby, alerted us to the appearance of chickens. How nice of them to come help.

I had just been thinking of them a few minutes earlier when I spotted a big juicy bug pop out from a pile of grass. I figured that would appeal to the chickens. Maybe they picked up on my thinking.

They happen to be about as good a helper as the dog has proved to be when I am working. If I move something, Delilah likes to move it back for me. The chickens checked out our raked piles by kicking them to smithereens in search of a snack.

We think the three survivors of the great chicken massacre of June 16 may have a little PTSD over the event. They no longer put themselves to bed in the coop at dusk. Many nights I would find one of the Barred Plymouth Rocks up on a branch in the same tree where I found her that fateful night.

Now she has lured the others to join her. At first, it was just the Buff Orpington, but two nights ago, it was all three of them up in that tree as the sun disappeared. Cyndie just alerts me, the one of us with two useable arms, and I come out to pluck them from the branch, one at a time, unceremoniously returning them to the coop for the night.

Last night, retraining to the coop started anew. We round them up before they take to the tree at dusk and herd them over to the coop, to be enticed inside with treats.

And we want to get more of these birds?

I’m coming around to the idea.

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Written by johnwhays

July 10, 2017 at 6:00 am

Short Note

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No time for blathering on this morning… Finished with breakfast, we are hustling down to rake and remove piles of grass from the labyrinth before rain arrives today.

While we work, you enjoy this image of berries and flowers that Cyndie captured.

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Written by johnwhays

July 9, 2017 at 8:50 am

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Peacefully Walking

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Wintervale Ranch and Retreat Center hosted a World Labyrinth Day event yesterday and participated in the Walk as One at 1:00, a global wave of taking steps for peace.

Family, friends, friends of friends, neighbors, and previous property owners arrived throughout the afternoon on a beautiful May day to trek the roundabout path and ponder.

One participant mentioned she had spent 35 minutes striding to the center and back out again, adding that stopping to touch things may have lengthened the duration of her journey.

It was a delightful departure from my norm to see the labyrinth energized with so many souls walking together. I spend a lot of solo time in that garden.

Cyndie worked her magic in the kitchen to fill the counter with a wide variety of fresh-baked caramel rolls to provide both energy and incentive for walking. I was careful to avoid eating a great big serving, but by sampling bite-size nibbles from the plain, frosted, with raisins, and finally, a pecan covered version throughout the entire day, I’m sure I successfully obliterated the balance of my healthy food pyramid for the week.

After the labyrinth, the chickens and their coop became a prominent attraction for visitors, followed by a stop to see how the horses were doing.

It was an invigorating day. As always, our belief was confirmed. As fabulous a place to live as this is, it is never in full spectacular bloom until guest arrive to launch the ultimate greatness.

Thank you to all of you who found your way here yesterday. It made for a wonderful mix of energized peacefulness.

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Written by johnwhays

May 7, 2017 at 8:23 am

Herd Reunited

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I am very happy to be able to report that Dezirea has made enough progress toward good health that Cyndie decided to allow her back with our other horses. In fact, to celebrate the milestone, Cyndie let all 4 of them step out onto the green grass for their first brief taste of the spring.

We have now arrived at the difficult period when we meter out their minutes of grazing on the lush spring growth. In years past, the strict constraints on the time we allowed them were merely applied to ease their digestive systems into the change. Then we came to realize that they don’t work hard enough to justify the rich diet full-time.

We have to limit their grazing most of the year in order to keep them from becoming overweight.

Cyndie has purchased some muzzles in hope of giving the horses a chance to roam the pasture without over-eating. They can eat through the muzzle, but it takes a bit more time and effort. It will slow down their intake.

Since they are not out on the pasture full-time, they’ve been eating hay longer into the warm months. Last night we visited a new local source of small bales that Cyndie found through an ad. We filled the back of the pickup with as much as it would hold and hustled back to the ranch, quickly serving up a few test bites to the horses.

They loved it! That was a relief.

Hauling hay at the end of the day was a lot of work, because we were already fatigued from continued sprucing of the labyrinth, mowing the lawn, re-hanging the vines across the path out of the back yard, spending time with chickens out of the coop, and turning the composting manure piles.

Today will be a much more leisurely day. It’s World Labyrinth Day! We are expecting visitors around noon, so after a few small chores of preparation in the morning, we will be lounging, snacking, visiting, and walking for peace throughout the afternoon.

I’m looking forward to having the afternoon off.

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Almost Ready

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This is our fifth spring of reworking our Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth after the abuses that winter throws at it. It’s got me questioning our decision to make it as large as we did. Aesthetically, it is just the way I envisioned, so that’s very rewarding. The downside however, is that maintenance ends up being a VERY large chore.

Here’s something I don’t get: The freeze/thaw cycles tend to push rocks up in the farmer’s cultivated fields, where they are totally unwanted. The rocks we positioned to define the circling labyrinth path are all moving down and getting swallowed by the earth around them.

I spent time re-balancing the double-stacked rocks at the U-turns last night. There were areas of the paths where I could barely find the rocks because they had settled so deep in the soft turf. My long-term goal was to keep adding rocks every year, to form little rock wall barriers defining the trail.

At this point, it is more like starting from scratch every spring, trying to define the pathway from almost nothing.

I’m probably exaggerating a little bit, because after a reasonable effort last night, we’ve gotten close to feeling completely ready for tomorrow’s big event.

World Labyrinth Day is Saturday and we have opened up our 11-circuit Chartes style labyrinth to host visitors in the “Walk as One at 1:00” event. There is going to be a global wave of peace flowing tomorrow afternoon.

If you don’t make it out to Wintervale to join us, pause wherever you are during the one o’clock hour and send some peace out in the world.

Then take a moment to absorb the wave flowing along.

Namaste.

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