Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘nature

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

Posted in Chronicle

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Couple Updates

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Do you remember the triumphant moment back in September of 2017, when Cyndie’s brothers and cousins helped me place a heavy stone atop the two boulders in the center of our labyrinth? Elysa captured the accomplishment in pictures.

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Those were the good old days. Jump ahead to today and I can report that the freeze/thaw cycle of the earth offered its own opinion of my design. 

It appears that gravity prefers the third rock be in closer communion with the ground. Looks like I need to get the band back together for another session of heavy lifting. Although, I’m not sure that it wouldn’t just produce the same outcome twelve months hence.

The ground around here moves like the surface of the sea, just at a much slower frequency.

The other update I have to offer this morning is more rewarding. One day after relocating our horses, Cyndie received this report from Mercedes:

“The two groups got a little more social by end of day yesterday, everybody drinking out of the water trough and at full run whinnying for Fernando’s feed times 🙂

Dezirea and Max are super bonded today, and Max has sort of left Cayenne to herself now. I rechecked Dez both this morning and afternoon and legs looking good – no more swelling and cuts scanned over so I think we are in the clear, just some ointment now to keep moisturized so don’t crack and for hair regrowth 🙂 All three have been really friendly – I can tell they are used to treats and love 🙂

Today Apache whinnying to communicate with Cayenne and Hunter, and they are staying much closer to the group. So all in all really smooth transition”

We couldn’t be happier about this news. I’m feeling a strong desire to visit them soon to see for myself, but knowing how well they are doing provides great comfort for the sorrowful pangs we are experiencing by the void of their absence.

Already, we are taking advantage of the reduction in responsibility at home, as Cyndie is flying to Florida tomorrow to spend time with her parents. We cleaned up after the horses in the barn yesterday and teased each other that we might actually miss that chore. If we do, it will be because cleaning up after them is an honor when you have them as companions. In and of itself, scooping up manure holds no allure.

I rearranged leftover hay bales and did a final count in the hay shed yesterday. We’ll check with local folks we know who might have interest, and if they don’t want it, post it to the online neighborhood group for all to see.

Bittersweet steps of furthering this transition, made so much easier by knowing the horses are happy, back with their friends, and under the best of care.

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Written by johnwhays

March 30, 2019 at 9:00 am

Equine Fascination

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For someone with little prior experience with horses, the last few years have been a big change for me. Cyndie was much more experienced with horses, but she had never owned one before, nor had she ever been so responsible for their care. We continue to grow increasingly fascinated with horses each passing year.

Our horses are an incredible gift.

We were reminded of this once again last night after watching the premier PBS broadcast of the Nature episode, “Equus: Story of the Horse.”

In the time since our horses arrived here, I’ve not felt a strong urge to saddle and ride them. That fact often surprises visitors who are just getting to know us. “Why else would someone have a horse?” many of them seem to think.

One of my favorite things is that we are able to allow our horses to spend almost all of their time not wearing a halter around their head.

Horses are amazing beings. I am soothed simply by standing in their presence. It is quite a luxurious experience to have them residing here with us, where I am able to reach out and touch them, to exchange breath with them, nose to nose.

Most days, our horses seem to know me better than I know myself.

Horse sense.

Some days, they are completely unflappable. Occasionally, they are jittery beyond our reason. They sense things which we fail to detect.

I envy how adept horses are at swiftly resolving differences and returning their unconcerned attention to simply grazing.

For all the size, power, and speed that horses embody, they are impressively gentle, by their very nature.

Put simply, I find them completely fascinating.

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Written by johnwhays

January 17, 2019 at 7:00 am

My Being

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I stood alone
among the trees on the hill
just outside the house
in the cold
for a moment
to look and listen
the great outdoors never disappoints
there is no fight for recognition
things just are
smoky wafts of breath rise with every exhale
resounding quiet slowly begins to yield tiny sounds
a titmouse
finch or sparrow
pecking the skin
of a nearby tree
a squirrel
moves in fits and starts
along a route
obviously used many times before
a breeze
rolls a crispy brown leaf
across the top crust of old snow
my being here
motionless
on a winter Sunday
has little influence on these woods
yet the land
the trees
animals
and breeze
imbue a universe of energies
that inspire
my being

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Written by johnwhays

December 30, 2018 at 8:15 am