Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth

Many Hands

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From the moment we arranged the two boulders in the center location of what was to become the Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth, I envisioned a third stone resting upon them. The first challenge to fulfilling that vision was finding the right stone.

It needed to be the right shape and size, which I knew would mean the perfect stone would be too heavy for me to lift.

My quest for the specific stone was complicated by the fact that, without significant disruption, I couldn’t use trial and error to decide. Dealing with a such a heavy stone would mean the first one placed in that spot would likely be the only one placed in that spot.

Over the years, I experimented with light-weight objects to assist my eye for identifying what size and shape of rock I was looking for. Perfection proved to be hard to come by among the rock piles around our property, but last year I finally found one that had good potential.

It was buried in the woods, located conveniently close to the labyrinth. Using a small piece of woven fence panel and a strap, I created a sling to move it. Then I enlisted Cyndie –back when she still had two strong shoulders– to see if two people could do it.

It worked, enough to prove the concept, anyway. We stopped after getting it to the edge of the trail. There it sat for most of the year, because I wasn’t sure how to safely get it lifted high enough to position it atop the two boulders.

Yesterday, I realized we had the many hands of adventurous strong guys available to make the work light.

It’s a whole ‘nother story that we hosted a gathering at Wintervale with the families of Cyndie’s late aunt, Joan Brolin, to celebrate Christmas in September. That tale will likely get told in coming days.

I hadn’t thought about it in advance, but conversation somehow led to the topic of my wanting to figure out how to lift the heavy stone and place it. Cyndie’s brother, Steve, shared a video about a man who could move heavy objects by himself, using simple aids.

Cyndie’s cousin, Tom, thought we had enough hands and wanted to check it out. I grabbed a tape measure for one last confirmation that this stone would be the right size for what I was hoping to accomplish.

With little in the way of complications, five of us were able to move it, lift it high enough, roll it into place, and then rock it into a position that was stable.

It was an extremely satisfying triumphant moment for me.

Thank you to Cyndie’s brothers, Ben and Steve, and cousins Tom and Mike for helping fulfill my dream. And thank you to my daughter, Elysa, for capturing the event on my phone.

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Written by johnwhays

September 17, 2017 at 8:44 am

Inviting Portals

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When it comes to forest bathing, we have a wide variety of enticing portals inviting one to dip a toe…

It’s enough to make a person want to dive right in to breathe the immunizing forest air.

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Can you feel yourself inhaling deep at the sight?

We also have portals leading to open and airy trails along the borders of our fields.

Stepping through this last opening brings you to the entrance to our Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth, a large 11-circuit Chartes labyrinth. It lies just out of sight to the right of the opening, which I think makes this portal the most enticing of all.

Plus, the labyrinth is tucked up against the edge of our main forest, so walking the circuitous path provides an added side-benefit of breathing the health emanating from the trees.

Our paradise beckons with irresistible enticements. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself to figure out I’m not dreaming.

This morning, the trees are silent in the calm, moist summer air. Out our open windows and doors I hear the mesmerizing music of the pond waterfall, singing birds, and chirping insects. Most importantly, that is all I hear. There is no sound of traffic. No planes, trains, or automobiles.

Mornings like this are priceless.

It’s not that we are immune to the sounds of mechanization. We do experience the occasional passing of small planes. Warm weekends might offer up the roar of a passing train of motorcycles buzzing along County N toward the El Paso Bar and Grill. The neighboring fields get plowed, planted, and harvested by large farm tractors as the season dictates.

Finally, if it’s not the neighbors, it’s our own doing to be shattering the bucolic ambiance with the droning whine of small gas engines with a trimmer, chainsaw, or lawn mower.

It’s a necessary evil of creating and maintaining the inviting portals that grace our little nook in the beautiful countryside of western Wisconsin.

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Almost Ready

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This is our fifth spring of reworking our Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth after the abuses that winter throws at it. It’s got me questioning our decision to make it as large as we did. Aesthetically, it is just the way I envisioned, so that’s very rewarding. The downside however, is that maintenance ends up being a VERY large chore.

Here’s something I don’t get: The freeze/thaw cycles tend to push rocks up in the farmer’s cultivated fields, where they are totally unwanted. The rocks we positioned to define the circling labyrinth path are all moving down and getting swallowed by the earth around them.

I spent time re-balancing the double-stacked rocks at the U-turns last night. There were areas of the paths where I could barely find the rocks because they had settled so deep in the soft turf. My long-term goal was to keep adding rocks every year, to form little rock wall barriers defining the trail.

At this point, it is more like starting from scratch every spring, trying to define the pathway from almost nothing.

I’m probably exaggerating a little bit, because after a reasonable effort last night, we’ve gotten close to feeling completely ready for tomorrow’s big event.

World Labyrinth Day is Saturday and we have opened up our 11-circuit Chartes style labyrinth to host visitors in the “Walk as One at 1:00” event. There is going to be a global wave of peace flowing tomorrow afternoon.

If you don’t make it out to Wintervale to join us, pause wherever you are during the one o’clock hour and send some peace out in the world.

Then take a moment to absorb the wave flowing along.

Namaste.

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Autumn Ambiance

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dscn5204eI stepped outside to search for some fall scenery to photograph after I got home from work yesterday and was rewarded well beyond my expectations. It helps to never grow too accustomed to the beautiful surroundings we enjoy here.

It would be a shame to ever take this gorgeous place for granted.

The key factor yesterday was that it wasn’t raining. There was actually some blue sky visible. With a high pressure system moving in, we are hoping to for several dry days in a row. It is likely to deliver a dose of our best of autumn weather.

dscn5208eMany of our trails are developing a carpet of fallen leaves that provide a crunch when you walk. More importantly, they are filling the air with the unmistakable scent of the season. When I walk toward the pastures and pop out of the trees, the horses show signs of wondering what huge creature is making all that racket.

Just this huge creature, is all.

When I got down to our Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth, the sunlight was getting low. Cyndie had recently mowed and weeded the labyrinth, which gave it a well-tended glow anyway.

I walked to the far side and paused to stare at the beauty all around me. I was looking away from the entrance for the shortest of moments, and when I turned back around I was startled by the sudden silent presence of a lone young deer happily standing nearby.

It was as if it had magically materialized in the spot. I realized right away that it was totally unaware of me standing there. When it stepped through our fence and walked into the pasture to graze, I stealthily moved to a rock nearby and lifted my camera to capture the scene in video…

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Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2016 at 6:00 am