Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘seasons

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Living in farm country has exposed me to the life cycle of cultivated crops and I was just commenting to Cyndie the other day how entire fields of soybeans suddenly all turn from green to yellow-brown in about a day. I wondered what it is they trigger on. The hours of sunlight? The reduced angle of the sun? Some particular overnight low temperature?

Boom. All at once, the field is no longer green.

Walking through our woods yesterday, I realized some of the ground cover that grows beneath the canopy has abruptly traded its green color for yellow.

That is a blurry photo but I am using it anyway because it still shows exactly what I’m describing.

Driving through the countryside to see the fall colors won’t show you this version of autumn. The view from within the forests of the fading greenery provides a different perspective of transformation after summer is over.

I did succeed in capturing a couple of other views from yesterday that weren’t as blurry.

It won’t be long before our boardwalk will become entirely obscured by a thick blanket of leaves. You won’t see any of the wood blocks after the maple trees drop their leaves.

The views from within the forest of the changes from summer to fall are a wonderful compliment to the brightly colored tree tops available from a distance.



Written by johnwhays

October 3, 2022 at 6:00 am

Leaving Us

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It’s Tuesday after Labor Day and plenty of fall activities that haven’t already kicked off will be starting today. Our guests left us yesterday for the next leg of their journey in a vehicle that looked to be packed with everything a college freshman would need to get started.

The Birgens awoke in the morning to the news that the Kenyan Supreme Court has ruled that the candidate, William Ruto, was properly elected President in the 2022 general election. One less thing to be concerned about for them at a time their oldest son is starting a new job and the youngest is starting college.

I find myself thinking about how nice it is to be well beyond the years of taking kids to their first year of college. Feels similar to when I began to appreciate getting past the years when September meant “back to school” during the K-12 phase of our kids’ lives.

The few connotations September holds for me now are the onset of fall colors, Cyndie’s and my anniversary (41 years!), Julian’s birthday, and the start of MN Vikings football –despite my best efforts to stop caring about anything having to do with the modern-day NFL. Nothing about getting prepared for school.

I have already noticed the return of school bus traffic on our road at home twice a day, but the impact from that on my life is negligible.

I tip my hat to all of you who have school-age children starting a new bus and/or classroom experience today.

My time with access to television coverage of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament is ending today as we leave the lake place and return home.

For some reason –probably related to wanting to witness Serena Williams make one last attempt for a major victory at the end of her illustrious career– I was inspired to watch as many live matches as I could this year. I was lucky to have captured a few dramatic matchups that were really exciting and very competitive.

A couple of them were almost as exciting as the end of the Florida State vs. LSU college football game I stumbled upon Sunday night during a break in the tennis.

It’s probably a good thing we are leaving the lake place and all the cable sports channels I have access to here so I can take a break from spectator sports and get outside and give this gorgeous September weather the proper respect it deserves.

It’s my favorite time of year, right up there with my other favorite, winter!



Written by johnwhays

September 6, 2022 at 6:00 am

Edges Covered

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With little in the way of fanfare, yesterday we raked up gravel over the last of the exposed asphalt edges of our new driveway. By that point in the exercise, I had lost much of my ability to care about the level of perfection we were achieving compared to when we first started. It’s going to be good enough for all intents and purposes.

The next phase of the driveway finishing project involves backfilling some of the steeper edges with dirt or composted manure but that detail is not as essential. It won’t worry me if we don’t get that all done prior to the arrival of the snow season.

We did make a point of celebrating the accomplishment a little later in the day with a leisurely game of CrossCrib out on our deck. A nod to the vacation-mode feeling of being up at the lake, it occurred to me we have the same game board at home and a deck that offers everything except a view of a lake. We can play at home just as well as up at Wildwood.

We tend to forget sometimes, what with all the landscape and animals vying for our time and attention. A card game in the middle of a beautiful afternoon can be a healthy diversion.

Since today is the Friday of a holiday weekend, we will be traveling north to the lake place again, leaving the dog behind to be cared for by our house and animal sitter, Grace.

This is a routine that has served us well this summer. Labor Day weekend is traditionally the last gasp of summer activities up at the lake. That doesn’t mean we will stop making the trek up there, though. A few trees were already showing signs of fall color on the drive home last weekend. That spectacle provides plenty of incentive to get back up to the lake after Labor Day.

First things first. We have a long weekend to enjoy some very promising-looking weather predicted for the northland.

It will be even nicer knowing the edges of the new asphalt driveway at home are now completely covered with a gravel shoulder.




Written by johnwhays

September 2, 2022 at 6:00 am

Hue Fatigue

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I’m growing weary of the many hues of brown that define the expanse of our outdoor views. Dark varieties of mud. Tans of the dry grasses. Graying shades of tree trunks and bare branches. Brown fence posts. Top them all off with the dullness of cloudy skies and the lifeless hues all combine to suck energy out of every breath.

This time of year we are happy to have the snow melt away but it comes with a visual cost until enough warmth and sunshine collaborate to launch the explosion of greenery we are longing to see again.

Alas, that is not fully living in the moment, is it? It’s April 1st today! No foolin’.

There are many treasures to be claimed in the current conditions, even if I find myself worn out by the same brown shades every single day that the sun is obscured from view.

The ever-changing status of the land as it weaves its way back and forth from winter’s hard freeze to fully thawed at every depth is like a carnival ride. In this indeterminate season the ground begins to thaw and then, nope, it’s frozen again and the air is warm, wait, no, it’s cold again, nope, bitter wind today, okay, tolerable this afternoon. It’s not too dry and not overly wet except that it is too dry in some places and a sloppy, muddy mess in others.

It’s enough to lead me toward a certain recliner where I can lounge and soak up the indoor shades of brown that like to snuggle.









Yesterday was our annual geothermal furnace checkup and in its 9th year of service for us the numbers all read in the good or in one case, better than good. It will eventually switch from heating our home to cooling it during high heat periods of summer. Best decision we ever made, biting the bullet of high initial expense and replacing the 20-year-old original furnace in this house with the geothermal shortly after we arrived.

It’s funny that our seasons change every year, but right now I’m having difficulty remembering what that high heat of summer is like.

I do know that our world is a much deeper green when that happens. How come we never grow weary of those summertime hues?



Gentle Reminder

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This year’s initiation to snow cover came gently and during the weekend, causing minimal impact to our routine. We aren’t sure about the history of our horses’ experience with snow but there was no indication they were the least bit disturbed by the arrival of whiteness.

Their greater concern of late is the frequent report of rifles reverberating in the valley. In the days leading up to the actual 9-day deer hunting season, there are a lot more gunshots heard than the few bursts at dusk and dawn when the season is underway. My guess is early gunshots are a result of shooters aligning their scopes and firing their weapons in rehearsal for the real thing, based on a comment I heard from someone years ago.

Not being a hunter myself, I just rely on what others have told me.

After a single day, the snow is rapidly disappearing.

I’ll take that as a reminder that the transition of seasons doesn’t always happen in an instant. This year we have been spared one of those sudden blast storms with deep snow that ends up lasting the entire winter. I’m lookin’ at you, 1991 Halloween Blizzard.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but I’m perfectly okay with a gentle reminder when season-long snowfall is nigh.



Written by johnwhays

November 16, 2021 at 7:00 am

Watching Change

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How often do we notice that we are witnessing change? Consider the perspective that everything is changing all of the time. We are watching transitions and adaptations happen every single second.

This time of year, the metamorphosis of our dull brown forests from open branches to a thick fabric of green leaves is very easy to notice. The significance of the difference is truly dramatic to experience first-hand. One snapshot is entirely inadequate to represent the vastness of what is happening, but that didn’t stop me from deciding to take a picture of one moment when the early sprouts of green are just becoming visible.

It was a moment when I was witnessing the continued adjustment of our horses to their new home. I stood among them as they luxuriated in the calm comfort of our hayfield. Cyndie captured the view as it appeared to her from the driveway.

Meanwhile, major change is now underway in the pile of composting manure, as revealed by my thermometer.

The modifications underway that will transform this pile of shit into rich soil are happening right before my eyes, even though there isn’t much to see except a little steam, depending on conditions.

I did the first lawn mowing of the season yesterday and kicked off the oscillating changes of long grass/cut grass that will play out for the next many months.

Change is happening all the time and we are witness to it whether we are paying attention or not..


Written by johnwhays

May 1, 2021 at 9:38 am

Spring Wobbles

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Our weather yesterday took a little wobble backwards away from summery, returning to winter-like conditions all day long. In addition to feeling downright cold, there was a fair amount of precipitation that fell as snow.

As I reached the roads near home toward the end of my commute, snow accumulation was visible in the fields. Talk about a cold reception.

Ah, but this is spring. A short while later…

It might look a little friendlier, but it wasn’t any warmer outside.

The surfaces that hold the snow for longer than a split second can be surprising.

It’s impressive how easily weather can inspire or deflate a person’s energy. Lucky for me, Cyndie had a plan B to offer an alternative mood lifter when I walked in the door. Actually, I smelled the fresh-baked ginger snap cookies before I even opened the door from the garage.

I allowed myself to deviate from my controlled sugar diet for a few hours.

No matter how cold it was outside, my heart was feeling plenty warm.



Written by johnwhays

April 14, 2021 at 6:00 am

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Already Planting

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No time like the present to put sprouting garden plants into the ground I guess. Cyndie didn’t have much choice but to plant, given the way her pea and bean sprouts were frequently doubling their height inside our sunroom.


These little green creatures were in a hurry to reach for the sky, so Cyndie put them out in the dirt yesterday where they have room to get as big as they want.


They will be under a protective shroud to shield them from any direct poundings that our frequent heavy downpours dish up (Tuesday night’s outburst blew a downspout extender clear off the elbow). The covering will also serve them well should the overnight temperatures return to that fatal freeze point in one of nature’s harsher versions of a practical joke.

It pains me greatly whenever I have to witness wilted budding tree leaves after a final unwelcome hard freeze pays a visit in late April or May.

After the bumpy thunderstorms overnight Monday and Tuesday, the new plantings will have the benefit of plenty of fresh ozone and nitrogen oxides thanks to the frequent lightning strikes.

With the rapidly intensifying chorus of frog chirps filling the now humid evening air, one gets the impression summer is trying to encroach on the days formerly associated with spring.

Not that anyone around here is complaining about that this year.




Written by johnwhays

April 8, 2021 at 6:00 am

Windows Open

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What a joy it is to be able to open our windows to the fresh spring air after months of being closed to the winter. Our thermometer registered a temp of 80°(F) for a bit and then dropped down when some clouds moved in. The clouds didn’t last and the temperature jumped back up with the return of direct sunlight.

We took a break from doing any major projects and enjoyed brunch with our visiting kids. Cyndie sent them home with grocery bags of leftovers and a few dozen free-range eggs.

I did sneak in a little time to give my bike a thorough spring cleaning. I pumped up the tires and oiled the chain in preparation for my first ride in two years.

At dusk, I stood out on the deck in the residual warmth of the day and watched Cyndie puttering around with her garden while she waited for the chickens to make their way into the coop for the night. We couldn’t see it, but somewhere there was an outdoor fire burning that gave the evening a comforting ambiance.

A pair of bats flitted about overhead, doing loops at several difference elevations.

Stepping back into the house, I was struck by how luxurious our home in the country is and how lucky we are to live here. Even more so during the pandemic.

I wonder what it will be like here in the coming years of continued warming of our planet.

At least we should be able to open our windows earlier and earlier each spring.

What a great milestone that is every year.



Written by johnwhays

April 5, 2021 at 6:00 am

Mixed Seasons

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Delilah doesn’t care that a winter-sized daylong snowstorm blasted into our otherwise reasonable autumnal October weather on Tuesday.

The ground cover is now an interesting mix of snow and leaves. The natural world seems to have lost patience with this thing we call order. What the heck, bring on the snow. We don’t need to wait for the trees to drop all their leaves first.

Delilah loves it. While I trudged with great effort through the deep, wet snow in the woods, she happily raced to sniff one wildlife footprint after another.

I didn’t take Delilah near the chickens during our stroll after I got home from work, so I didn’t see how the birds were coping with their new surroundings, but when Cyndie returned from closing the coop as darkness fell, she reported full merging of young and old on the roosts.

How synchronous! Mixed seasons and mixed flocks of chickens.

Maybe the old birds will share their winter savvy with the young ones.

“If we act like we are stuck and can’t walk anywhere because of the snow, that lady who thinks she’s our mother will shovel a path to the barn.”

She already did.

I’m guessing the young ones have already learned that detail.


Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2020 at 6:00 am