Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘mystery

Nighttime Screeching

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Two nights in a row now. High pitched snarling, screeching growls in the darkness. We are grateful to be sleeping indoors, even if the sound leaks through our windows and doors enough to be audible. In the cold darkness, it must sound magnitudes more unsettling.

It wasn’t originally obvious what was going on, since we have heard the cries of rabbits being preyed upon, intense yelping from packs of coyotes, and rare screeches from owls in our woods on various occasions. This seemed to hold elements from any and all of those.

When there was no evidence of any carnivore activity to be found on the morning after the first night of terrorizing sounds and the screaming resumed the following night as darkness settled over the land, my suspicions about the source coalesced.

For reasons that completely evade my understanding, both Delilah and Pequenita showed no hint of reaction to the angry creature sounds happening just beyond our walls. They both seem to react to a myriad of other triggering sounds occurring beyond my range of hearing, but this drama that was catching my attention mysteriously meant nothing to them.

I pressed my ear to the glass of the back door to gauge the distance and direction to the source of the creepy screams as I attempted to silently work the latch. As soon as the door cracked open, the sounds stopped. There was no echo, no winding down of conflict, no sounds of movement. Only silence. Instant silence.

Standing motionless outside the door, holding it closed but not latched to avoid making a single sound myself, I hoped to outlast whatever creature it was that was smart enough to respond to my appearance with such immediate disappearance. Was it holding its breath?

I was, mine.

It would have to eventually move. Whatever the screaming was all about couldn’t have just totally ended. If it was some fracas between two animals, the animosity couldn’t have just vanished because I showed up.

They, or it, won. I gave up after a few minutes and went back inside. Undaunted, I headed right to our high beam spotlight flashlight to follow up on my hunch. At the back door again, I switched it on and pointed it toward the high branches of the nearest big tree.

Suspicion confirmed. Two beady raccoon eyes glowed in the light beam.

We had thought the masked bandits weren’t active in the coldest months but research reveals mating can be happening in February and March. Yippy! Up to seven new babies possible in April and May. [sarcasm]

That screaming could be males competing for a single female. Beats me why I only saw one set of eyes in the tree limb when the noise definitely sounded like conflict between two parties.

Time to practice our trapping skills again to see if we can improve on the modest effectiveness we had last summer.

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Written by johnwhays

February 6, 2022 at 11:48 am

Different Puzzle

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My love of toiling away on jigsaw puzzles and searching for specific shaped “needles” in the haystacks of pieces has a correlation to another of my treasured hobbies. This is probably not the first time I’ve come to the realization that I feel the same about the hunt and discovery of missing people in my family tree each time I return to my genealogy project.

I just began looking anew at my 3rd great-grandfather, John Hays (1795-1840) because he is the primary dead-end, or his father is the primary “missing piece” I would next like to find.

Just like with jigsaw puzzles, when I can’t find what I’m looking for, I will settle for other, easier pieces along the way. Because I haven’t been able to find out who John’s parents are, I have tracked down a lot of other people on different branches of my family tree.

But I always find myself returning to the missing link in the path toward confirming the precise origin of our surname.

According to information taken from the 1922 death certificate of one of John’s other sons, John was born in Hinesburgh, Vermont, USA.

In 1828, John married Laura Kittle (born 1807 in Lachute, Qc) in a Cushing Presbyterian church in Argenteuil, Quebec, Canada.

Their firstborn, Stephen W. Hays (1829-1910) has the birthplace of Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Canada.

Take a look at the proximity of the three locations on a map:

I haven’t found any record of who John’s parents were in Vermont in 1795.

When Cyndie and I traveled to Ontario in the early 1980s (with absolutely no genealogy experience whatsoever) we stumbled onto the plot of farmland owned by John, as well as his hand-written last will and testament. His will began with the fact he was ill of health but of sound mind. It was all very fascinating, but we had no way of knowing at the time that he had originally come from Vermont.

I wouldn’t mind visiting Hinesburg to see what we might stumble upon there in the present day. It looks like it might be a nice place to explore on my new bicycle.

Not having a good knowledge of history, I am curious what it was like to travel between countries in the early 1800s. Or, even fifty years later when Stephen W. traveled from Vankleek Hill with my very young great-grandfather, John W. Hays (1860-1931) to come to Redwing, Minnesota.

Was it a big deal to them to be crossing the national borders?

What took John from Vermont? Did that move happen when he was young and as a result of his unidentified parents’ decision?

How did John meet Laura Kittle whom he married in 1828?

Their son, Stephen W. married the girl who lived on the farm next door near Vankleek Hill. Maybe the answer to John marrying Laura Kittle will be revealed by a similar proximity of residence in the 1820s.

One thing I am sure of, it will be a huge rush if/when I find one of these key missing puzzle pieces of who John’s parents were.

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Written by johnwhays

January 26, 2022 at 7:00 am

Spider’s Nest?

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There is a corner of our large paddock where the grass has grown pretty tall that I wander by frequently when pushing the wheelbarrow during manure management duty. I recently came upon what looked like a well-shaped hole formed out of the surrounding grass, almost like some burrowing animal was making a nest.

Being a person with no interest in getting surprised by a snake, I am hesitant to make close inspections in areas of tall grass. I didn’t see anything obvious at the bottom of that hole in the grass from my safe distance of slightly leaning forward.

A couple of days later, the hole seemed even more well-defined, and this time, there was an obvious occupant present.

Looks like a garden spider to me.

Does anybody know if the spider might have created that “hole” or is it more probable she was simply taking advantage of an excellent location somebody else had already made?

If it wasn’t the spider that made that nicely rounded nest in the grass, was it a bird or maybe a rabbit? Seems like all the birds around here prefer to make their nests in and around the barn ceiling and eaves. If we still had chickens, I’d expect to see that hole filling up with precious eggs, based on past experience.

I think it was the spider, but I have no idea if that is even possible.

Anyone out there have knowledge of the capabilities of Argiope aurantia?

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Written by johnwhays

September 15, 2021 at 6:00 am

Chilling

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but you had beef jerky in your pocket
and I didn’t know that
six strange ways we wasted one chance
late that night
in the forested swamp
it wasn’t even cold
nothing like the bitter biting icy burn
we faced up north every January
where ice fractures when it freezes too hard
it was damp
creating a different chill
one that pulls out warmth
more than it pushes in cold
and ideas start to vanish
common sense vaporizes
as it certainly did
late that night
or we would have probably lived
to tell about it
and why this had anything to do
with the cupola on the roof of that barn

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Written by johnwhays

March 21, 2021 at 9:51 am

Bloody Mystery

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It is never a good thing for chicken owners to come upon loose feathers and blood drops in the snow. Yesterday afternoon, that is precisely the scenario Cyndie happened upon.

First, here are the facts we know. All 14 of our chickens are still with us. Cyndie was walking Delilah and came upon spots of blood in the snow. As they approached the barn, the appearance of enough loose feathers to imply something amiss raised her alarm. She secured Delilah in the barn and rushed toward the coop.

We are putting the basis of our conjecture about what might have happened on her findings upon arrival. Rocky was standing guard outside the coop and all the hens/pullets were inside.

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After determining none of the chickens were missing, she went back and followed the blood trails. When she told me about it, I joined her and we walked a long way to see if any more information could be gleaned from the evidence. We could tell the tracks made it all the way to the road, and by that distance, it seemed clear the bleeding was greatly reduced.

The size of the footprints lead us to suspect a small cat, which aligns with the location where we have frequently seen a cat of unknown ownership prowling.

The rest remains a mystery, but we have developed a possible explanation from the data available.

We think our rooster, Rocky, took on the attacker and successfully fought it off, sending it away wounded.

Earlier in the day, while I was walking Delilah, Rocky let loose with a series of about seven “cock-a-doodle” calls. He is still about one syllable short of the classic rooster crow, but it gets closer each time we hear it.

Cyndie is hoping to get a closer look this morning to assess for possible injuries. It looked like there were mostly yellow feathers tossed about, which points toward the Buff Orpington. They all looked okay in the coop, but the birds do a pretty good job of masking any problems they might be suffering, which makes good sense as a survival instinct.

Here’s hoping the wounded visitor will lose interest in our flock now and redirect its attention somewhere a little less threatening, and that our theory about Rocky’s heroics happens to actually be true.

Written by johnwhays

January 11, 2021 at 7:00 am

Gory Find

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We have been living in rural farm country for eight years and seen some interesting things, but yesterday’s find was a new one for us. As I pulled into the driveway at the end of my long commute home and climbed the first incline, my eyes spotted something in the grass beside the pavement that stood out distinctly for its uncharacteristic color.

My brain quickly worked to make sense of it and toggled in a split second between thinking it could be something that had fallen or been tossed from a passing vehicle or possibly a cluster of brown oak leaves on a fallen branch. I stared toward the image as I slowly rolled past until it was out of view.

Then I stopped the car. My mind couldn’t make sense of what I’d just seen.

I needed another look. Putting the car into reverse, I rolled back slowly until the unidentified object reappeared out my window. It was not a cluster of brown leaves. It was redder in color. Honestly, it looked like a surprisingly large chunk of raw meat.

Logic suggested I might want to get out of the car to take a closer look, but I had no interest in getting any closer to that ghoulish specimen. I put the car back in gear and rolled up over the hill to find Cyndie walking toward me with an arm-length plastic veterinarian glove on and carrying a plastic bag.

Obviously, she had just discovered this spectacle moments earlier. She described walking Delilah back from the mailbox and catching sight of the oddity well before the dog did. Cyndie shortened Delilah’s leash as they neared and when the oblivious dog was almost past it, her nose picked up the scent and she lunged against the leash, hoping to do her own close inspection.

Cyndie walked her far enough ahead to secure the leash to a gate and walked back to see what it was. We are not schooled in such detail, but it was very obviously a large chunk of raw meat and included what looked like valves? She took Delilah back to the barn where she found the glove and bag to go remove the body part from beside our driveway, which is how we came upon each other.

Questions linger. What is it exactly? Where did it come from (wild or farm livestock)? Where’s the rest of the carcass? Who (what animal) dropped it on our property? Why did it get dropped (still plenty of good eatin’ there)? Where was the animal taking its prize? A lone wolf? Pack of coyotes? Mountain lion? Stray dog? A neighbor’s cat?

I agreed with Cyndie that we didn’t need to leave it out for critters to have a second chance at it. It occurred to me that, were I more motivated, I could quickly set up the trail cam to see who returns to the lingering scent in the darkness overnight, but I’m happy to live with the mystery.

For the sake of those who feel no need to see what it looked like, I’ll offer the image in the form of a link: Gory find. There is no size reference, but it was larger than any cut of roast I have ever seen in the grocery store meat departments.

Try counting the tooth mark punctures.

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Written by johnwhays

November 18, 2020 at 7:00 am

Dream Visit

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It’s a mystery to me, one which I believe equally that either of two possibilities could be true. When a deceased person makes an appearance in my dreams while I am sleeping, is it because my mind conjured up the occurrence or because the spiritual nature of the passed soul placed themselves into the perceptions going on in my mind?

On Wednesday night, or actually, in the wee early hours of Thursday morning, I was having a series of fantastical dreams. At one point, I found myself seated in a booth common to many eateries, with Cyndie beside me and her mother across from me, and then Cyndie’s dad, Fred, showed up, sitting on the corner opposite from me.

It is the first time I have dreamed of Fred since he died in June.

I was shocked to see him, and incredibly thrilled. He seemed to acknowledge my reactions, flashing an impish grin as I scanned Cyndie and her mom who remained oblivious. I was so moved with his presence, the rush of emotions made me want to cry.

It being a dream, and my body essentially paralyzed, I couldn’t get myself to act on the urge.

My question lingers; did my mind choose to create this scenario of Fred’s spirit appearing in my dream or did his supernatural essence actually show up to connect with me?

Either way, it brought me a lot of joy in the moment, joy that lasted all day long and expanded each time I described it to people.

Of course, the best was when I had a chance to tell Cyndie about it.

While he was seated, he took a swig from what appeared to be a beer bottle. He looked really happy to me. The thought occurred to me that he could probably have a beer if he wanted in his afterlife. Fred had been sober about as long as Cyndie and I have been married. He drank a lot of non-alcoholic beers, but I don’t recall him ever looking as happy about it as he looked when tipping that bottle in my dream.

Did my brain conjure all that up? Maybe. Since I don’t really know, I’m happy just relishing the great feeling the dream provided.

It did nudge up the emotions of missing him a bit more than before, but the fun of seeing him again, and his looking so perfectly happy and mischievous was worth it.

Missing Fred is something that a lot of us are adjusting to and will linger long. If we could meet him in our dreams at will, I suspect it would happen more often than it does.

Maybe that lends a little credence to the possibility that appearances of lost loved ones in our dreams is more their doing than our own.

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Written by johnwhays

October 23, 2020 at 6:00 am

Mystery Culprit

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Someone’s been messin’ with the coop. At first, I suspected it was possible that wind-plus-time had conspired to undo some of my handiwork, but after fixing it on Tuesday afternoon and finding it undone again yesterday when I got home from work, I now think something else is responsible.

There is open space between the walls and the roof of the chicken coop which allows for maximum ventilation. The “ceiling” of the coop is nothing but an open mesh of quarter-inch hardware cloth that allows moisture to vent out, but during windy winter storms, can also let snowflakes in.

I learned of that problem when little drifts formed inside the coop after a big snowfall. My crude fix was to stuff plastic and mesh fence material into the gap between the walls and roof. It worked perfectly well to keep snow out without completely destroying the ventilation.

After tucking the material back into place on Tuesday, it looked as good as the first time I installed it.

Less than 24-hours later, this is what Cyndie found:

Some mischief-maker, most likely a pesky bird, had already pulled some of the mesh back out again.

If I didn’t think we would get more snow this season, the material could all come out, but experience leads me to believe there will still be multiple occasions when the barrier will serve its purpose before spring arrives in full.

It is simple enough to tuck it back in place, so I will carry on this little game with the mystery culprit for now.

I won’t be surprised if the next phase of our game includes the eventual appearance of the makings for a nest. At that point, I suspect the interloper will be considering me the culprit causing mischief as I work to dismantle its construction project.

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Written by johnwhays

February 27, 2020 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Crescendo

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2019 at 6:00 am

Unglamorous Reality

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I think it’s only natural that our minds tend toward the fantastical when attempting to interpret an unexpected scene in our otherwise staid environment. Why would the first impression be the simplest option, when a more unlikely one is possible?

When I got home from work yesterday, I discovered a mysterious disruption around the front of my closet. There had obviously been some sort of disturbance. Several odd shoes had been pulled out, shoes I haven’t worn for some time.

I suspected someone had been looking through my shoes, but it was possible my footwear had been incidentally dislodged by a person looking for something else. What could someone have been after?

Well, I can narrow it down a little bit. The only “someone” around here all day would have been Cyndie. The most likely scenario would be that she was pulling out items to be laundered.

Not all that exciting, after all.

The truth was even less glamorous than that.

When Cyndie came in from trimming fence lines, she offered up a set of facts I had failed to consider. Pequenita had barfed in the vicinity and Delilah stormed in to take care of cleaning it up before Cyndie could react.

Lovely. Sometimes things aren’t quite what they initially seem.

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Written by johnwhays

July 30, 2019 at 6:00 am