Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘nature

Incremental Change

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Like a slow train crawling along a track, I am seeing multiple signs of the changing seasons unfolding with an unstoppable impetus. I wish it would all take a pause long enough to give us added time cleaning up fallen trees and branches that are clearly visible in our woods now that the snow is gone. The clock is ticking toward the explosion of green leaves that will quickly obscure the views on either side of our trails.

What looks like a relatively simple effort now will soon become too thick with growth to effectively navigate for cutting and hauling.

On the drive home yesterday I noticed many of the farm fields are already being prepped with applications of manure fertilizer. One neighbor was out on his lawn tractor dragging something across the yard that looked like a way to break up the gopher mounds and molehills to smooth things out for that first mow of the season.

New shoots of green groundcover leaves are making an appearance all over the floor of our forest. It won’t be long and we will get a chance to see how many of our transplanted trillium plants are still surviving.

Even though there are still many places along our trails where there is standing water from the complete saturation of the soil, there are areas where some quick-growing grasses are sprouting taller than what my mower would cut off if I was able to be out mowing already.

The changes in the natural world are ongoing, day and night. Every walk around the property reveals something new that is growing or drying out. The trees are beginning to form the early hint of leaf buds that will soon create a fresh tint of yellowish-green crowns that are the precursor to the burst of actual leaves.

Many years of commuting have provided repeated evidence of how that new green glow shows up across the treetops in a matter of a day. One day, nothing. The next day, visible buds everywhere!

Every day the natural world is evolving, but I sense the locomotive of change from winter to spring is gathering much more spring-like momentum at our latitude this week.

Maybe we should start getting ready for summer while there’s still time.

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Written by johnwhays

April 7, 2020 at 6:00 am

Precarious Perch

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I would love to have been watching the action when this unlikely balance resulted. We’ve got a new “situation” not far off-trail in our woods today.

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It is so high that I’d rather not mess with trying to bring it down. Imagine what must have happened when that snapped off, tipped into the adjacent branches and then dropped back onto the trunk from which it had come. Impressive.

I would prefer that we soon have another high-wind event to wiggle the trees enough to dislodge that precarious perch so we don’t have to do it ourselves.

We probably have enough rope to toss a line over to pull it down, but I’m not too keen about spending much time beneath it.

For all the “widow-maker” half-fallen trees we endlessly see in our small acreage of woods, this one is a rarity.

Maybe our forest bathing excursions should require hard hats.

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Written by johnwhays

November 16, 2019 at 9:49 am

Too Tired

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My middle-of-June biking and camping week begins one week from today. I am looking forward to being able to ride first thing in the morning when I am fresh and surrounded by more than a hundred friends sharing the experience with me.

I resumed my forced preparation cycling yesterday after work, alone and exhausted before I even started. The good news is that my butt appears to be toughened up by last weekend’s riding. The bad news is that my 90-minute ride was far short in terms of preparation for the days and many hours I will be on the saddle in a week.

After the day of work and the drain of a long afternoon drive home, I was more interested in a nap than a ride, but I got out there anyway.

This morning, I am too tired to think and write. Here are a couple of images from my adventures up north last weekend to distract you…

I’m going back to bed to catch a few more winks of beauty sleep.

Talk amongst yourselves.

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Written by johnwhays

June 7, 2019 at 6:00 am

Windy Rain

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It was a dark and stormy night last night. Really. It was! Once again, we were pressed by winds that made the house flex and bent our trees over dramatically. It boggles my mind that anything remained standing, with our soil as saturated as it is.

There are small footprints in the mossy ground from young deer making the rounds in search of our many hostas, but the perennials have been slow to sprout in the absence of a warm and sunny growing day.

Cyndie says some of her labyrinth plants are showing signs of life, so maybe the deer will munch those until the rest of our “salad bar” landscape matures a little more.

I wonder what our property would look like if we stopped tending it and simply let the elements have their way. From one perspective, we are doing a lot to achieve desired results, but at the same time, our attempts appear rather feeble compared to the power of wind, precipitation, and temperature extremes that seem to know no bounds.

Grass grows faster than I can mow it. Trees sprout where we don’t want them, and fall over in greater numbers than I can clean up after. I think that if we stopped doing anything, it would look like a jungle within a year.

Who knows what will happen in the face of a climate crisis? I expect areas other than ours will experience more significant impacts, such as coastlines from sea level rise and ever-increasing hurricanes, or areas prone to wildfires. It’s hard to say whether we will see a change in temperatures that unequivocally shifts our growing season, changing what plants thrive or suffer.

The world is already experiencing more intensity out of everyday weather events. There doesn’t seem to be much reason to expect that trend to stop, given the slow reaction of society as a whole to alter the activities that brought this all on.

We want our electricity and our transportation to always be available for the ever-increasing world population.

It just means we need to keep adjusting to the weather extremes that show up as a result of our choices.

Today, it is cold rain and gale force winds. This summer, it will probably be something different. I just hope the week I am biking and camping in June will be a calm period between any other extremes.

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Written by johnwhays

May 22, 2019 at 6:00 am

First Green

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It feels like our growing plants are kicking into high gear now that snow has melted away. The first bushes to develop a green crown are the raspberries.

The grass is showing signs it will need to be mowed before too long. That is, if it doesn’t all get killed by the army of tunneling vermin whose population appears to have mushroomed exponentially around here. The footing is treacherous at every turn.

It sure would be nice if a natural predator would materialize to control their numbers so we wouldn’t have to do something about it ourselves. We’ve tried ignoring them, but that has proved to be a futile strategy.

I read that stinky castor oil will rid our yard of moles and voles. It said not to apply before it rains. Yeah, like we know when that is going to happen. The most predictable thing about our weather is that it is very unpredictable.

One thing I am confident predicting is, it is going to get very green around here in the near future.

Tree leaves are coming soon. Yahoo!

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Written by johnwhays

April 26, 2019 at 6:00 am

Ghost Leaves

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On a walk through the woods with Delilah yesterday morning, my attention was grabbed by some disintegrating leaves that never fell from the tree. They looked like ghosts of leaves.

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Why did they not fall to the ground?

Especially in the face of some wind gusts that were strong enough to break loose a roof panel on our wood shed. Yesterday, there was dead calm in the morning, so I took advantage of the perfect weather to work on replacing the busted section.

Learning from experience, I added some cross supports that will better hold the overhanging side from flexing, should future winds blow from that same direction.

That simple structure, built to store split logs while they dry for a year, has provided multiple lessons from failure.

When it blew over in a storm, I figured out a way to secure it to the ground by stringing some old fence wire over the cross beams and running it through the eye of earth anchor augers in three strategic locations.

With the help of my friend, Mike Wilkus, who came to my rescue when re-assembling the shed after it had overturned, I learned how to improve the diagonal bracing to stabilize the overall structure.

It leaves me wondering what the next failure will be that might teach me yet another lesson in the great world of being an amateur builder.

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Written by johnwhays

April 20, 2019 at 8:42 am

New Green

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There is no hesitating when it comes to nature. First, we had heavy snow, then a flash flood, followed by a little bit of sunshine. The grass responded in a blink. Yesterday, it turned a very summer-like green.

I spotted a thorny thistle already looking established along the path we call the north loop. I’m sure mosquitos won’t be far behind.

On the way home from work yesterday, I stopped to buy some supplies for a couple of projects that I have planned for the warm sunshine we are expected to enjoy this weekend. Knowing in advance that the panel I needed wouldn’t fit in my car, I brought along a battery-powered circular saw, in case Menard’s staff couldn’t cut it for me.

I also included a tape measure, pencils, a straight edge, and my two portable sawhorses. But I forgot clamps. Having been advised by a sales assistant that such behavior in the parking lot might not be approved, I attempted to work swiftly. Obviously, they weren’t set up to do the cutting for me.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. I needed to cut a 4 x 8 foot panel into three pieces. Bing, bang, boom. In a flash, I was folding up sawhorses and returning everything back inside the car so I could slip away mostly unnoticed.

Next time, I will remember clamps, to hold the panel down for cutting.

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Written by johnwhays

April 19, 2019 at 6:00 am

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