Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘nature

Goodnight

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

July 21, 2020 at 6:00 am

Coping Skills

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It’s getting hard to miss the memes questioning what the deal is with 2020 so far. There is one showing the frame for a couple of swings installed next to a brick wall. Yeah, it kinda feels like that. I guess with a global pandemic for a backdrop, any other situation which arises can feel like a slap in the face. The clear video of a white police officer slowly and arrogantly suffocating a black man was a serious gut punch with reverberations riling up centuries of prejudicial inequalities.

It’s getting hard to cope.

I am not surprised to have read somewhere of a trend toward moving from inner cities to the suburbs. I am truly grateful and totally aware of the precious benefit we enjoy in having acres of green space where we can stroll to breathe in the calming balm of all that nature offers.

There was a hint of a break in the cloud cover yesterday that teased of blue sky on the way but in classic 2020 fashion, it disappointed. The sunlight never broke through a gauze of dirty white that mysteriously found a way to hang around.

Our endurance is being tested. I see it as a challenge to how we frame our perceptions. There is no beginning or end when it comes to the span of time. There won’t be a single day which can be measured as the end of the coronavirus pandemic, just as there isn’t an identifiable moment when it began. Same thing for racial prejudice.

We are on a continuum. Life is a big, long ride. Figure out a way to cope for the long haul.

I suggest we mind our manners, take care of ourselves first before helping others, but by all means, seek to help others. Maybe release our urge to so vehemently control outcomes and discover a deeper awareness of what unconscious fears are actually coloring our perceptions.

Put a little extra effort into loving ourselves and in turn, nurturing greater love for others and the world we all share.

What a lovely way to cope with the challenges of life: coping by loving.

Group hug! [after the pandemic, I mean.]

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Written by johnwhays

June 20, 2020 at 7:32 am

Just Clinging

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We have arrived at the week with the earliest sunrise in our location and the weather is at its most wonderful summer-est. Our doors and windows are open and the ceiling fans are turning, yet the warmth hovers around the edge of too much. Tank tops and loose shorts, bare feet and a tall glass of ice water put things right.

The cut hay in our fields was raked and round-baled on the same afternoon yesterday. If you look close, Cyndie captured a lone deer crossing the image view as the field became draped in the shadow that was replacing the disappearing sunlight.

For as much as we are forbidden to wrap our arms around our fellow friends and family, we are striving to wrap the summer up in a grandiose hug of epic proportions. Despite the chaos of a political circus, a global pandemic continuing its invisible spread, and citizens bellowing for justice against centuries of systemic racism against indigenous peoples, immigrants, and the entire spectrum of non-white human beings, I am just clinging to the precious moment of a few glorious quintessential summer days for their faint distraction of nature at its finest.

We are doing so without a rambunctious picnic of music and food and a hundred of our favorite people. I am doing so without my annual week of biking and camping somewhere around Minnesota with hundreds of friends and brilliant like-minded adventurers. We are doing so without concerts enjoyed among thousands of similar music-loving fans or sports competitions with hoards of supporters cheering on the efforts of athletes at every level of skill.

There will be no county fairs and ultimately, no Minnesota State Fair. Graduations have already been morphed into sometimes blessedly shorter shadows of the usual pomp and circumstance, and weddings and funerals constrained to unrecognizable whispers of the emotional extravagance they deserve.

Navigating the days that turn to weeks and then months of the COVID-19 pandemic is dragging us all into a marathon of paying heed to the best-practice precautions of constraining the spread to manageable levels despite our preference that it just be a short duration fast-walk competition among friends.

My dentist’s office called and left a message that they are now accepting cleaning and checkup appointments scheduled for the fall. My rather feeble home plaque-scraping exercise since my appointment in March was canceled is now going to need to suffice until autumn. Thank goodness I won’t need to waste a beautiful summer afternoon splayed back in the reclined chair getting my teeth cleaned and inspected.

The best medicine I have right now for the pandemonium of current events is the natural summer surroundings of our little paradise. I love it. We love it.

It helps fuel our ability to nurture and grow that love for beaming out into the great big world.

Here is Wintervale LOVE to all who are willing and able to receive it… <muwah>

Cling to that.

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Written by johnwhays

June 17, 2020 at 6:00 am

Garden Salad

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I didn’t expect it this soon after planting, but over the weekend Cyndie served up the first salad with kale and spinach from her garden. It was fabulous tasting, as well as a wonderful reward to be eating something she has grown right here at home.

Our other weekend meal was a last-minute decision to order take-out from our nearby destination restaurant, Shady Grove. We have not been to a restaurant since the pandemic outbreak and have only had pizza and Chinese takeout up until now. When Cyndie stepped in the door to pick up our haute cuisine food, she found she was the only person wearing a mask.

Hope the patrons weren’t all traveling long distances to congregate in close proximity for a couple of hours of conversation and food. We aren’t aware of any reported cases of COVID-19 in the immediate area and most of the people we have seen are responding with understandable casualness over the risks, but who knows what might arrive undetected with travelers from afar.

Interested in protecting those around us in other parts of our lives, we opt for not sitting inside with the rest of the unfamiliar folks and dine at home for now. Neither of us is very concerned about our risk of getting sick, but we each are very interested in not becoming an unwitting carrier who could spread the illness to her family or my coworkers.

When I was down in the woods on Sunday cutting up the latest of the fallen trees, I had a thought that we should probably be focusing on planting new trees to make up for all the ones we lose. Then I realized that we find uncountable numbers of new trees popping up every spring, to a fault. They show up everywhere, particularly noticeable in places we don’t want them. In our landscaping around the house, underneath preferred mature trees, and too close to buildings.

Nature plants more trees than we ever could. We just need to figure out how to manage them.

While writing about the salad and all the new trees sprouting, I thought it would be perfect to include an image of each. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of either. Instead, you get two recent versions of our sky overhead, one taken by Cyndie and one by me. Guess which one is from me.

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We’ve been blessed with a pretty good balance of rainstorms and warm sunny days. It has made for some pretty good progress in growing salad greens and baby trees.

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Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

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