Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘seasons

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.

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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?

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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.

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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..

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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