Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘nature

Spring Erupting

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It is fascinating to witness what a couple of days with temperatures in the 80s unleashes in the natural world. Between the heady gusts of wind randomly battering us throughout the day, the myriad sounds of emerging frogs are woven into the songbird whistles on top of a persistent snapping and cracking of pinecones gradually, but steadily, opening.

New buds are appearing on tree branches and ground cover plants are sprouting tiny flower blossoms.

Cyndie reported that our neighbor to the south was out on his lawn tractor, appearing to mow the grass. I am not surprised to learn he is already out on his machine, as he mows more acres, more often than anyone I have ever seen. I just don’t know how he found any grass tall enough to cut yet. Our grass doesn’t look like it will be ready to mow until tomorrow or the next day.

Rain is forecast for the rest of the week and temperatures are expected to moderate. That will only pause the explosion of growth unfolding before our eyes for a moment because the water will hydrate thirsty plants and launch a monumental next phase of greening to our surroundings.

Seems a little odd that a frog would seek shelter from some rain, but Cyndie found this little guy hanging out under the recliner in our sunroom.

Is that some sort of hint about how wet the next few days will be? Maybe how cold it will get?

No matter how nice and warm the last few days have been, it is always in the back of my mind that we received 18 inches of snow on the 2nd & 3rd of May in 2013. Nice weather today is no guarantee it will continue through the rest of spring.

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Written by johnwhays

April 6, 2021 at 6:00 am

Seasonal Scenes

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We are definitely in transition mode. The maple syrup producers are collecting sap as the daytime temps rise above freezing and then dip back down overnight. The ditches have started to fill with running water. Moisture is leaving the snowpack and going airborne.

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The patchy fog makes driving to work in the dark a real challenge as the visibility drops to zero in a blink one minute and becomes clear as a bell the next.

The receding snow cover unveils evidence of the rodent activity that goes on out of sight beneath the icy blanket. No wonder our dog cocks her head and looks down at the snow like an arctic fox and then leaps into the nose-first dive after whatever is making that sound that only dog and fox ears seem to detect.

The chickens are reveling in the expanding exposure of insect-rich soil. They have also amped up their egg production to record levels for this brood.

Today they may get a dose of March rain that forecasters hint could include some thunder by afternoon. By next week, the precipitation will likely be back to snow.

These are all typical scenes of our season of transition known as the month of March.

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Written by johnwhays

March 10, 2021 at 7:00 am

Showing Off

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Some days it feels like nature is toying with us. Sure, fog can roll in at just the right temperatures, and overnight, ice crystals will form on tree branches. We love it! The look is festive and mesmerizing. So photogenic!

 

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You think you’re looking at the best scenery possible, but then nature lets you know you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Watch what happens when a little sunshine and blue sky is added to the scene.

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Now it feels like nature is just showing off.

What a gorgeous place it is that we live where the four seasons play out with such dramatic diversity.

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Written by johnwhays

January 3, 2021 at 11:02 am

Lucky Surprise

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Well, well, well… nature didn’t have it in for me after all. That predicted snowstorm I referenced in yesterday’s post got upgraded several times, deservedly so, and smacked us hard with wicked wind gusts driving the falling snow horizontally, making it near impossible to tell whether the accumulation was actually from the clouds overhead or from flakes blowing in from South Dakota.

The deck railing doesn’t seem to collect any snow, but during last night’s final bedtime walk for Delilah, we discovered somewhere between 6 and 8 inches already on the ground, making the trek a bit of a challenge.

The silver lining surprise about it all is that we received hours and hours of significant rain prior to the snow. The rain completely cleaned the driveway!

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My big concern about the old glazed tire tracks becoming the base layer for today’s plowing didn’t come to pass. Hooray! Disaster averted.

Sort of.

Now we have the aftermath of the blizzard to contend with. There is an icy crust over everything from the mailbox to the chicken coop due to the rain that froze, and I’ve got a lot of plowing and shoveling to do.

A little over an hour after the precipitation had turned to snow, Delilah and I were traipsing along the main perimeter trail through the woods and I noticed the view ahead was much different than the view behind us.

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I took pictures of both scenes.

The frosted forest sure is beautiful to look at.

I sure am glad we had the lucky surprise of a clean start before the rain turned to snow.

I sure wish the shoveling was already done this morning.

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Written by johnwhays

December 24, 2020 at 7:00 am

Planting Acorns

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When all around you the world appears to be unraveling in every direction, try planting a tree.

In our case, we’ve decided to take a crack at planting many. Last week we buried over a hundred acorns in a line outside the fence of the paddocks.

Since nature does such an amazing job of producing oak sprouts everywhere on our property, we decided to see if we could organize some of them to pop up right where we’d like to have them growing for the shade they would eventually provide.

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Note: WordPress has done another update to their format, changing the look of my editing space and eliminating options that I previously used when formatting my posts. I do not have the control I once had, so things may appear different from what you were used to seeing until a time when I figure out a new way to achieve the results I desire.

Already, I miss the good old days of composing my posts.

Disgruntled-ly yours,

JWH

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Written by johnwhays

October 2, 2020 at 6:00 am

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