Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘seasons

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.

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Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2020 at 6:00 am

Every Year

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It happens every year, but that never seems to alter the shock. August is gone and September is here. I pulled out a long-sleeved overshirt last night to ward off the chill of the cool evening air. Acorns are falling. Leaves, too.

Cyndie headed down to close the chicken coop after a phone call and found darkness almost got there first. All the birds were snugged in place, including two of the young ones who have taken to making the extra leap up to perch on a 2×4 cross-stud over the side window. Silly girls, but not unprecedented because one of the wyandottes from the last batch used to do the same thing. They’ll get over it after growing wide enough that the perch no longer seems wide enough for comfort.

While Cyndie was down at the coop, she sent me a text with a picture of the moonrise. It enticed me to want to try a similar shot with my Olympus pocket camera. I like them both.

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It didn’t necessarily feel like autumn out there last night, but it definitely felt like the end of summer.

It happens every year.

You’d think I’d get used to the transition by now, but it always seems so all of sudden.

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Written by johnwhays

September 1, 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

October Snow

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I’d like to act all surprised over all the snowflakes flying this early in October, but we’ve had so many days of warnings this was coming that it’s something of a feigned surprise.

How can there be global warming? There is snow falling in October!

For those of you who think this way, go talk with the people suffering more wildfire calamity in California today or any of the record-breaking typhoon/cyclone/hurricane intensities over every ocean on the planet with each successive formation.

I’m sure these incidents and all the melting glaciers and polar ice are just a coincidence.

I grabbed a screenshot of the Weatherbug radar image with our location southeast of the Twin Cities showing the spread of falling snow from Buffalo to Beldenville.

The wintery weather has me thinking I should have already blown out the water line to the labyrinth and drained all of our garden hoses. Cyndie reported the water for the chickens was frozen this morning. At least she had already installed the plexiglass window panes over the metal hardware cloth in each of the openings earlier this week.

It’s probably a good thing the Twins got booted from the baseball playoffs so they don’t have to play games in this kind of weather.

We’ve got a fire in the fireplace and I am gazing out at the deck collecting flakes with trees full of leaves as a backdrop. It makes me think of a certain Halloween blizzard (1991) for the drastic cross-mixing of fall and winter.

Of course, I also have a vivid memory of the Halloween night it was so uncharacteristically warm I went for a long bike ride to enjoy the late taste of summer.

Luckily, today our location won’t get much in the way of an accumulation from this system, but it definitely serves as an attention-getter for what lies ahead.

Much as I love winter weather, I’m in no hurry to get there this year.

It would be so nice to have time to actually finish the deck resurfacing project before snow shows up for good.

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Written by johnwhays

October 12, 2019 at 10:10 am

Late Season

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A day away from the calendar start of autumn has us checking out the lake place in transition and it is as glorious as ever this weekend, despite some gray and rainy weather.

We went to dinner last night at the recently reopened restaurant located about a block away from our driveway. The new name is Tavern at White Stag Farm. The atmosphere hints at old European with a delicious menu to match. Fred and Marie treated us in celebration of our anniversary. It was grand!

When we aren’t feasting on luscious meals, we have been competing in mixed teams at the cribbage board game, “CrossCrib®” taking turns claiming bragging rights. This morning will likely bring the challenge for weekend supremacy.

The other excitement has been the close proximity of our resident eagles and their fledglings. They have taken to perching on the pine tree right outside our window.

We have seen the young ones fly, but it appears they may still lack some confidence. They spend a lot of energy being highly vocal on their perch, crying out for something. Research reveals a common training behavior is for the parent eagles to withhold food as an enticement to the fledglings to fly.

That scenario is easy to ascribe to what we have been witnessing.

I can report that the eagles are not bashful about screeching loudly before the sun has broken the horizon.

Maybe they are feeling some urgency to get this flying thing mastered before the fall season ushers in the freezing of the lake where they have been enjoying easy pickings of fish all summer.

Despite the unusually warm temperatures this weekend, there is no denying that the summer of 2019 is behind us now.

Here’s hoping it will soon usher in the bright colors and brisk temperatures of fall.

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Written by johnwhays

September 22, 2019 at 9:22 am

Like This

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It’s like this every year. The forest is constantly changing, but it becomes apparent suddenly all at once. It’s not as thick as it was before. Sightlines start to open up. It becomes easier to see deeper into our woods and I discover new and interesting spectacles.

This dead tree had sloughed its bark, but a vine prevented the old skin from dropping all the way to the ground, creating an eye-catching visual.

It’s also like this when deciding to go outside on a day of varying weather conditions. Our sky was a mix of sun and clouds yesterday, resulting in dramatic swings between cheery and gloomy. When I finally rallied to head outside to get something productive accomplished, the air was suddenly wet with waves of heavy mist.

My timing was off by about ten minutes. As fast as that precipitation arrived, it departed.

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Those two views were taken at the same time, first looking east, then turning around to the west.

The swings of dreariness messed with my motivation, such that I ended up puttering the day away nipping at the edges of doing something significant, but never really making much progress to speak of.

Some days, that’s just what it’s like around here.

At least it’s a beautiful place to be when not getting all that much done.

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Written by johnwhays

September 14, 2019 at 7:41 am

Packing Up

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Even though today is Labor Day holiday in the U.S., our group all headed home from the lake a day early yesterday afternoon. There is plenty to deal with at home for families kicking off the fall season, and driving yesterday served to avoid many of the camping and boat trailers that will be returning today. Traffic was hardly an issue on our route.

This being the end of summer activities at the lake, before leaving, we took the bittersweet step of packing up most of the inflatable water toys.

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We set up a station for cleaning and deflating, and each large floating toy was detached from its anchor and brought into shore. Many hands made for small work and we washed, dried, deflated, and rolled up the big trampolines for winter storage in the garage with impressive efficiency.

While we occupied ourselves with that project, Cyndie took the initiative to scour her family’s small cabin to pull off and bag bedding and remove foods and cleaning supplies.

Before hopping in their car, Julian and Allison deflated their small floaties.

Just like that, in a blink, summer is over once again. It happens every year, but each time seems to come faster and faster.

It also always seems too soon to be seeing trees turning from green to red/yellow/orange, but on our drive yesterday, there were multiple sightings.

I think I spent more time in long sleeves over the weekend than I did in short. I may not pack up my summer attire yet, but I will start bringing out my warmer clothes.

It’s the season of doubly crowded closets and dressers. Too soon to put away all the warm weather clothes, but too chilly to avoid pulling out the fall and winter gear, too.

I’m not complaining, though. It’s a small complication in the otherwise glorious advantage of enjoying the full range of 4-seasons weather we experience.

It develops strength and character, both physically and mentally.

This time of year is actually my favorite, so I am in my glory right now. Happy September everyone! (Does it show that I don’t live in a hurricane zone?)

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Written by johnwhays

September 2, 2019 at 6:00 am

Yeah, Summer

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Here’s the thing about summer: it’s not a thing. It’s not one thing. It’s a constant transition from spring to fall. You don’t get dandelions and corn on the cob all at the same time. There are cool days that feel totally out of season and oppressively hot and humid days that bookend the cool ones.

Maybe that is why it seems difficult to do summer justice at any given moment. Summer is a whole lot of moments.

Flower blossoms radiate for a limited number of days before they begin to fade in color and lose their shape.

Already, the earlier sunset is noticeable. County fairs produce thoughts of the summer-ending Minnesota State Fair. Plans are being considered for shopping back-to-school sales. We may as well start preparing our Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving menu. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

That’s just about how fast it feels.

Don’t blink.

My bike trip is history. The birthday has come and gone. The fourth of July has passed. How long will the rest of the summer last?

We need to pay attention to something summery every single day for the next two months.

Summer will last just as long as it lasts. I plan to notice it in its entirety.

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Written by johnwhays

July 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

Two Trails

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Did I mention how beautiful the weekend sticky snowfall was? See for yourself.

Which trail would you choose?

Heading south?

Or heading north?

I love the extremity of contrast between scenes like these, compared to how these woods look in the summer.

We aren’t teasing when we brag about doing all four seasons of the year around these parts.

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Written by johnwhays

December 5, 2018 at 7:00 am

More Weather

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Weather was the center of attention on the ranch again yesterday afternoon. During my hour drive home from work, I heard the announcement that our county was included in a tornado watch until 11:00 p.m. I checked the radar when I got home and found there was nothing to indicate a storm was imminent.

During the short time I was catching up on my daily reading on a handful of web sites, the radar screen rapidly changed from nothing of interest to “better take cover soon!”

That came up really fast. In the image, there is a marker indicating our home, southeast of River Falls. I figured there was plenty of time before the main event would get here, so I stepped outside to see what it looked like in real life.

The change in atmosphere from when I left the workplace to when I walked out the door to look at the sky was remarkable. The dew point temperature had soared to a tropical 70° (F). The air temperature was in the high 70s.

I don’t know how much the sudden return of warmth might have contributed, but yesterday also happened to mark the return of our annual Asian beetle infestation. It is striking how specifically the environment changes in a single day, going from nothing at all, to thousands of bugs swarming all at once.

Somewhere nearby, a soybean crop has been harvested from the field, triggering the mass migration of beetles to some source of water and shelter.

Getting out in the air provided a feeling that there was more than enough fuel for a rip-roaring thunderstorm, but the reality I encountered didn’t look bad at all yet.

It was actually a serene scene of calm horses in front of a backdrop of fall colors in the trees. Low clouds were sweeping by at a pretty good clip, mostly obscuring the higher and darker wall of the approaching storm.

A short while later, while we were eating dinner, the sky opened up to dump an inch of rain in a relatively short-lived outburst. Oddly, there was little in the way of lightning and thunder. Maybe it was moving by too fast. The sky turned a little green, but that was probably more a function of the low angle of the setting sun than it was the measure of threat from the storm.

It didn’t even blow that hard during the peak. That actually came later. Once the storm had passed, the sky cleared, stars shined bright, and strong gusting winds blew in to fill the void.

It was just another day where the weather served up the equivalence of several days of action –or several seasons even– all in a single afternoon.

We measure that in WPMs around here. That is, Weather Per Minute.

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Written by johnwhays

October 4, 2018 at 6:00 am