Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘outdoors

Time Weathered

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What a wind we experienced yesterday! A simple walk around the property was an exhausting struggle. The bare branches of our trees clattered overhead as they bounced against one another, putting me on alert about walking beneath them. Delilah’s ability to smell what’d been going on overnight was visibly altered as a wealth of distant scent information was arriving through the air faster than she could parse and the ground scents were being endlessly scrubbed away.

While deep in the woods near the edge of our property, we witnessed the sound of a large tree cracking and falling. My first impression had me turning to my left to look up the hill toward the direction of our house, but that didn’t sound right. Looking in the opposite direction into our neighbor’s woods locked into the full sound, but I couldn’t see the source.

It was definitely impacting multiple trees and the cracking and crunching made quite an impression. I looked toward Delilah and she was staring intently toward the direction of the sound, after which she looked up at me as if to say, “Whoa!” –as in, ‘that was huge!’

Yeah, that was a “whoa” alright. It was a big one that answered any questions about falling trees making sounds whether anyone was there, or not.

We were out on the second trek of the day and I could see the footprint evidence of Cyndie and Delilah’s first walk at dawn. Cyndie was able to stay on top of the frozen crust. It provided a contrast to the other extreme from her afternoon walk the day before when the soft snow had her boots dropping to the full depth, making a stroll on our trail into a real slog.

At the hour I was traveling over the terrain, my boots were just breaking the surface.

Our snowpack has experienced multiple thaw/freeze cycles in the last week and then yesterday the surface was scoured by the relentless battering of gale-force gusting winds. It barely looks like snow anymore. It resembles the surface of the moon, except for the occasional random foot path trails various wildlife visitors have left in their wake.

This morning’s peaceful calm almost enhances the perception of a lunar location.

It’s a calm before the next storm, we are told. A Winter Weather Advisory is on for tonight and tomorrow morning in our location. That crusty surface will be given a fresh new coat of inches on which we get to tread in the days ahead.

Huzzah to that, we say! Bring it on.

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Written by johnwhays

February 27, 2021 at 10:43 am

Rare Interaction

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We interacted in a social way with other humans yesterday! Late February 2021. A milestone. Duly masked for appropriate social behavior in a pandemic, we hosted our friends, Barb and Mike Wilkus to share an appetizer, visit the chickens, and then travel to Pepin for a snowshoe hiking event at YMCA’s Camp Pepin. Afterward, we returned to our house for a light dinner, dessert by the fire, a little banter, and …blink, blink… the night was over.

There will never be enough time to catch up on the year of social interaction we have lost since the pandemic swept the world.

Hanging with friends will never feel fully satisfying until masking is no longer standard procedure.

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Despite the limitations, we happily absorbed every second of the gift of friends who love the outdoors and are up for adventures. Camp Pepin was decked out with ice lanterns along a groomed trail and campfires aglow in the woods for an open house event intended to rejuvenate interest in camp activities that the virus outbreak has squelched.

As the dusk of the hour consumed us, we came upon a familiar scene of a deer carcass that had certainly fed a variety of wildlife.

 Looked strikingly similar to the one we found in our woods, antlers, and all.

The weather was perfectly comfortable for winter activity and the treasure of enjoying it with precious friends was a wonderful treat.

It sparks a glimmer of hope for visions of increased opportunities on the horizon in the months ahead. Do we dare begin to make plans again for renewing our old level of interactions with other people as vaccinations reach a greater majority?

That will be one step toward making it happen. Let’s all start making plans now for as normal a summer as possible to help galvanize the future reality we want to happen.

I am emphatically hoping it can play out sans masks.

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Written by johnwhays

February 21, 2021 at 11:29 am

Harsh Environment

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It’s not always easy, carving out survival in all the crazy extremes of weather possible in the great outdoors. It may seem odd at first mention, but I think snow actually softens the blow of winter months, both figuratively and literally. We have received very little this year, and what did fall has mostly disappeared. After the rain and re-freeze, followed by a few days of melting, we settled into a pattern of cold that has created a particularly harsh environment outside.

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The ground is hard as rock and every other step is slippery from spots of ice.

Dezirea showed up with a bloody cut just under the joint of her cannon and pastern bones. If you look closely, there is a less obvious cut similarly located on her other front leg. I wondered if she maybe broke through some ice in the drainage rut that crosses the back pasture.

There isn’t any snow deep enough to have broken through a crust to get a cut like that.

Cyndie is up at the lake place for the weekend, so I sent her a text with the image. She asked if there was any blood on Hunter’s back hooves.

Hmm.

I hadn’t thought of that. Of course, there wasn’t.

Dezi was moving around just fine and didn’t seem any worse for the wear. There has been no further bleeding from the cut, so I am letting time do the natural healing it always provides, while also watching for any changes to the worse.

Delilah and I walked the pasture to look for any possible hazards or signs of a possible cause. Finding absolutely nothing, I’m beginning to think Cyndie may have identified the more likely culprit.

I sure hope Dezirea is dishing out as much as she is taking in the ongoing roughhousing happening among our three-horse herd.

Makes me miss Legacy that much more. Tomorrow is the first anniversary of his departure from this world. I’m definitely feeling it.

Toward the end of his life, Legacy’s poop took on a strikingly loose consistency. In an unsettlingly timed turn yesterday, while cleaning up after the horses in the paddock, I came upon a pile that was uncomfortably similar to what we used to see from the old herd leader.

Maybe the horses are feeling a little sick, too, over memories of what transpired a year ago on that oh-so-cold January thirteenth night.

A harsh environment, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

January 13, 2019 at 11:18 am

Quiet Evening

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After dinner last night, I stepped out to spend some time on one of the zero-gravity chairs Cyndie left on the deck. She pulled them out on Sunday to watch the Perseid meteor shower in the wee hours of Monday morning. I opted to sleep and missed that show.

Last night, the air outside was absolutely still. The sky was muted by a white-washed backdrop that held just a few discernible cloud shapes floating in front of it.

The temperature and humidity had eased to a perfectly comfortable warmth for the end of a hot August day. As I lay back in total relaxation, I tried to absorb the moment to the depth of my bones, for use as a reference in six months, when everything outdoors will be completely opposite.

It was so quiet, I could hear the acorns getting dropped to the ground when a bird hopped in the branches of a tall oak tree. The culprit was also adding to the soundscape with an occasional simple one-note, even-pitched tone. That was in stark contrast to the songbird who arrived in a tree behind me to show off a dramatic and richly complex repeating series of staccato chirps, tweets, and climbing trills.

I spotted a dragonfly high above me, near the top of the trees, and followed its aeronautical acrobatics of instant right-angle and logic defying immediate one-hundred-eighty degree turns in what I assumed must have been a feeding frenzy. It kept at it for a surprisingly long time.

The bliss of the moment served as a good remedy for my lake hangover. There might not be a gorgeous lake rippling in our back yard, but we do have plenty of nature in which to submerse ourselves, as an alternative.

Later, back in the house, I caught a glimpse of the doe and two fawns who hang out here regularly enough that we consider them family. They were loitering near the truck before disappearing down the trail toward the chicken coop.

I suggested to Cyndie that she should be extra quiet when she headed down to close the chicken door for the night, and maybe she would be able to mingle with the deer.

Delilah didn’t really know what I was watching out the back window, but she instantly spotted the flash of brown bodies and white tails when they darted out of the trees and crossed the yard to where the trail enters the woods on the other side.

Cyndie didn’t get to do any mingling.

She did find all ten chickens safely roosting in the coop for another day. I took the deer sighting as a sign there wasn’t any immediate threat in the area, implying our animals all enjoyed a quiet evening, too.

Egg production continues to pick up. Yesterday was the first time there were three eggs in a single day. I take that as another sign they are happy and healthy.

It all has me wanting to achieve an unprecedented level of full appreciation for the blessings we are currently enjoying, especially the simple ones like yesterday’s calm and quiet night.

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Written by johnwhays

August 15, 2018 at 6:00 am