Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘maple trees

Trees Trimmed

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It was a lucky Friday the 13th for us yesterday. The professional tree trimmers we contracted with finally arrived to spend a day felling and trimming multiple large trees. When the job was quoted, it was easier to see the many trees in our woods that had tipped and become hung up on surrounding branches. Now there is just enough greenery beginning to sprout that the views are a little more obscured.

When the two-man crew arrived, the horses were highly curious about the mysterious-looking machinery that rolled over the first hill of our driveway.

They just as quickly came to accept the racket made by dueling chainsaws as no big thing, even though the bucket mechanism the guys were using looked a little creepy.

That big willow looks so much less neglected today. That’s one tree species that prodigiously sprouts random new branches every which way along the full length of its trunk.

Two of the largest and oldest maple trees that have been slowly dying received a different bit of serious pruning as we strive to prolong the glory of their stature on our landscape.

It’s getting to the point there isn’t much left of them. One large limb broke loose last year and landed on the equally large limb just beneath it. I’ve been yearning to take that extra weight off the lower branch but the job was beyond my capacity. Work like this, since there were plenty of other tree issues that deserved attention as well, made it easy to justify bringing in the professionals.

One of the other things we focused on was bringing to the ground any trees that had tipped but didn’t make it all the way down. Nicknamed “widow makers,” they can be tricky to deal with since the entanglement above can lead to unexpected movements of the tree being cut. I was more than happy to leave the stress of that challenge for someone other than me.

As long as they were here, I gave them full permission to cut down any tree that had been marked with red by our DNR Forester who paid a visit several years ago. There were so many marked trees that I haven’t been able to put a dent in the number. Watching how much work it took for a professional to cut them all in one particular section helped me to justify why I haven’t cut them all myself.

Also, it leaves a monumental amount of work to ultimately clean up off the ground, which I chose not to pay them to do. We have an endless supply of chip-able sized trees littering the forest floor now.

There is work enough to keep me busy in the lumberjack role full time. Too bad that I am also the lawn groundskeeper, fence mender, equine fecal relocation specialist, dog walker, home maintenance amateur, hay bale hauler, horse feeder, labyrinth tender, and Stihl power trimmer user extraordinaire.

I only get to do the lumberjack work in my spare time.

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Written by johnwhays

May 14, 2022 at 9:04 am

Leaky Tree

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I’m reporting from a remote location this morning, having stayed a night in the cities to attend an event honoring students and staff at the old alma mater. Instead of driving home, only to turn around in a few hours to drive back to work, I spent the night at Cyndie’s parents’ house in Edina.

It was a real treat to see some of the accomplishments of the present-day people at Eden Prairie public schools. That is where both Cyndie and I graduated from, as well as both of our children, and where Cyndie worked as high school principal for several years.

The number of young, new-to-me faces of staff being given special recognition by the Foundation for EP Schools last night was inspiring, yet caused me to become acutely aware my advanced age. The years of our involvement seem like a really long time ago now.

At the same time, a few of the music teachers present were the same people who taught our children, and they were excited to pass along greetings to their former students. So, I guess it wasn’t that long ago.

It’s all relative, isn’t it?

Cyndie sent me pictures and stories of the antics of Cayenne sneaking through one of our web fences, twice!, yesterday; the chickens came in the barn and totally ignored the cheep-cheeping chicks; and the chicks are another day happier and healthier.

She also captured this picture of an impressive dual-pronged sap-cicle on a branch of one of our young maple trees. I don’t know why this one is leaking at that spot, but there is no mistaking the fact that the sap is flowing strong.

Syruping season is here.

It may not feel like spring yet, but when the pure maple syrup starts getting boiled down around these parts, nice weather can’t be far off.

I’m feeling ready for some of both.

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Written by johnwhays

March 22, 2018 at 6:00 am

Maples Everywhere

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Maybe we shouldn’t be trying so hard to get a maple tree to grow in the center of our labyrinth. In areas where we have put no effort to entice new maple trees, they are popping up like weeds! If we wait long enough, I’m sure the labyrinth will be filled with new volunteer maple saplings.

New maple trees are flourishing beneath the large poplar tree next to the shop.

Maples are sprouting among the ferns by the basement window.

They are rising from the perennial ground cover growing by the back fire pit.

Lastly, the new trail I opened up behind the woodshed looks like a nursery for maple trees.

If there is any justice in this world, the maples we have to remove due to their poor choice of root will be offset by one successful transplant taking hold where we want it to grow most.

Happily, this spring all signs are good that it has survived the winter with enough energy to sprout leaves. The next question enshrouding our hopefulness is, will the leaves survive the full length of summer?

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Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

Harvesting Popsicles

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It’s still February on the calendar, but our warm days have started the sap flowing in the trees already. As a result, the leaking wounds on our recently pruned maple trees are forming sap-sicles with a sublime sweetness and hint of maple flavor.

dscn5856eThe daytime temperature yesterday reached the melting point and the mostly sunny sky created the magical act of disappearing snow. I pulled the drifted snow off the roof over the front door and along the valleys beneath the main peak and the shingles started steaming instantly as they absorbed the solar energy and warmed up.

I had started the day with a walk down the driveway to assess the condition and found it to be a frozen mess. The snow that fell during the second half of the storm, after I had plowed once, was melting into a slush that had re-frozen overnight into an un-plowable mass.

That shifted my morning focus to shoveling. By the time I got to plowing in the afternoon, much of the driveway was exposed pavement. I cleaned up the edges, battling to keep the blade from slicing into the soft turf, and then worked on the gravel section around the barn.

That was a trick. The snow was sticky and the gravel soft. The task gets a bit less forgiving, requiring more attention to detail than I really wanted to give it. It becomes a mental wrestle to convince myself the chore even needs to be done, and if so, how thorough to follow through.

dscn5857eDo I need to leave space for more snow to follow? Will this be melted and gone by the time we next receive another plowable amount of accumulation?

I parked the Grizzly in the sunshine to melt the snow off the blade while I pulled out a shovel to clean up the edges. That’s when some maple-sicles caught my eye.

The first bites at the bottom are the sweetest and the texture is softer than frozen water. There is no question that these are not typical icicles. The hint of maple flavor is a wonderful natural reward.

I wonder how many grams of sugar I added to my diet yesterday.

That’s not counting the icing I ate on the couple of pieces of Cyndie’s spice cake I snuck in…

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Written by johnwhays

February 26, 2017 at 9:58 am

Trying Again

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

November 3, 2016 at 6:00 am

No Fish

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One of the things that seems so sad about the failure of our 3rd transplanted maple tree in the labyrinth is how many hundreds of volunteer maples are sprouting in unwanted locations around our house and yard. A less stubborn (and probably smarter) person would likely make the obvious choice of moving one of these hearty little yearlings to the center of the garden, but not me.

I have been bound and determined to get a head start on a future giant center piece for our labyrinth by planting a tree taller than me with an already good-looking crown of leaves. When Cyndie suggested buying a tree with an established root-ball, I countered that I preferred one from our property, and each time my attempt fails, I am going to pick an even taller one next, to make up for lost progress.

If necessary, in a few years I will hire a truck with a giant conical tree spade to dig up a 10-year-old beauty, I’ll dismantle rock paths to make room for it to back into the center of the garden, and they can plop down a transplant that won’t dare fail.

I’m finding that it might be easier to replace rocks for the labyrinth path than get a tree to survive being transplanted to the middle.

A few days ago, a person who shall remain nameless, to protect their anonymity, dropped off a small fish for our landscape pond. Cyndie learned about it after dark, and went out with a flashlight to check. Yep, she confirmed, there was a fish swimming in our pond.

That’s the last time the fish was seen. I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn it didn’t adjust to the move, if we had found it floating days later. I never suspected it wouldn’t survive the first night and would disappear without a trace. Did a predator —probably raccoon— really find and dispatch it that swiftly?

IMG_iP1366eMaybe it is just hiding really well, like the hidden growth of roots on the transplanted tree. Maybe the tree isn’t actually dead. It might just be taking a year off to develop roots, instead of sprouting leaves.

On Monday, I went to see a home game of the MLB Twins at Target Field with Rich, Jill, and Bob. It’s not a good sign that my only photo taken that night was of the giant display screen blazing the weather radar as the PA voice announced the game was being postponed.

I’m experiencing a trend. No tree, no fish, no baseball.

One of these tomorrows, I sure hope that sun comes out, and soon!

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Written by johnwhays

May 11, 2016 at 6:00 am

Flower Blossoms

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Our crab apple tree is fuzzy with flowers today, and the giant allium beneath it is making its way to spectacular. The changes at this time of year are noticeable almost by the hour. A little rain, followed by warm sunshine, and growth practically explodes in every direction.

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At the same time, I am discovering that we have a few late-blooming trees, maples, I believe, that look dead next to others that have already leafed out completely. This is our third spring here, and I am becoming aware of more and more about our property that escaped my attention the first two years, due to my being overwhelmed by it all. Does that imply I am becoming dulled to some of the glories of this place? That would be sad.

No, I don’t think that is the case, although there are certain aspects of managing 20-acres that tend to take less mental space when you gain the experience of a couple years. Even though I’ve seen trees die every year, I’ve seen so many more sprout, some of them at a surprising rate of growth. I am less inclined to fret over individual incidents now that I have gained the perspective of a few cycles of the growing seasons.

Even the snapping branches during previous storms, which caused me significant trauma to witness at the time, has been revealed to me to be a common and often recoverable situation. I have come across trees in our woods that look to have been severely damaged years ago, but which have simply sprouted new growth off the fractured limb and although funky looking, are functioning as much like a normal tree as all the other damage-free trees around them.

Our late-blooming maple trees are sporting buds now and will catch up in a blink. I don’t have to worry about them, which allows me to better absorb the beauty and wonder of all the blossoms decorating or fields and forest this year.

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Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2015 at 9:12 am