Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘spring

Laking It

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Happy Mother’s Day all you moms out there! We are starting the day up at the lake with Cyndie’s mom and dad. This afternoon, we have dinner plans with our children and whomever can make it from her brother’s families.

It feels like the middle of May.

Plants and trees up at the lake place are a week or more behind the growth that has popped at home. I find the perspective it offers points out the end of opportunities for easy access to our wooded areas. Up here, we can still walk easily in among the trees, while at home the explosion of leaves is quickly closing down views and avenues of travel.

On the plus side, we have the return of a shade canopy over our forests. That makes Delilah much happier.

With her thick coat, she is quick to seek out shade when we have her outside on sunny days. I assumed she would be thrilled with the opportunity to cool herself in the chilly water of the big lake this weekend, but she has surprised us with a distinct timidity at the water’s edge.

She has behaved totally non-fazed by the new confines of the cabin, and seems to adore exploring the grounds on her leash. Alas, the water holds no allure, even with the added excitement of spawning fish splashing about in the shallows.

I think it’s a good thing there are no signs the turtles have been burying eggs in the sand of the beach yet. She would be very pleased to dig for such treasure.

Between walks, she naps nearby during our card games, with only occasional startles or barks over the squawking crows and rare boat traffic happening by.

It’s been a soothing, calm getaway for us, nicely described by the term, “laking it.”

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Written by johnwhays

May 14, 2017 at 7:15 am

Springing Forth

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The multitude of flora on our property is springing forth at a variety of rates this year. To our surprise, some of our trillium are flowering earlier than we’ve seen before. That’s particularly thrilling for us because most of the bloomers are transplants we brought from Cyndie’s family vacation home up north.

We’ve had a good run of consecutive dry days, followed by a perfect evening rainstorm Monday night and it is making growing things very happy.

Getting the water right is key to a lot of things. I went for a scouting bike ride on Sunday to investigate a route that didn’t involve gravel roads. I was successful in that, but in so doing, I out-rode my water supply. The last spot I was planning to get a refill hadn’t yet opened for the season.

I decided to push for the finish on limited rations.

It’s not that hard. I limped home safe and sound, but I was unsurprisingly under-hydrated. What intrigues me is how long the evidence has lingered. Two days later, despite consciously increasing my usual daily intake in hopes of catching up, my primary barometer (urine color) revealed I was still behind.

Working on a long game toward optimal health involves an unending series of small daily efforts. It involves making corrections along the way for intermittent deviations.

As I prepared my breakfast and lunch last night for today’s shift in the mine, measuring the amount of cereal to meet my goals for grams of sugar, it hit me again how different my diet is from just a couple of years ago. I don’t expect I’ve yet reached a point of undoing what decades of a high sugar intake produced in me.

It was probably in the late 1980s that I attended a lecture that touted a mantra of eating like a king for breakfast, a queen for lunch, and a pauper for dinner. I embraced that part about breakfast with gusto, figuring my high activity sports habit was more than enough justification to eat whatever I wanted.

Portion sizes swelled, guilt-free. Meanwhile, my body tended to swell, too –despite the constant exercise of soccer and cycling. I miss eating too much cereal for breakfast whenever I felt like it, but I don’t miss how it made me look and feel.

Pondering the difference helps to reinvigorate my inspiration for staying on course for the long haul.

I’m feeling renewed energy to spring forth into another year of living well. Maybe it will bring me into full bloom sooner than I expect.

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May Snow

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It snowed a little bit yesterday, off and on amongst the day-long soaking waves of cold mist that blew down upon us. I am not startled by snow flakes in the month of May, after surviving our first spring here back in 2013.

Four years ago, it looked like this:

That was quite an event for us. The Twin Cities barely received a half an inch, but the band of heavy snow to the south and east rode right over us in Beldenville.

We are much better off this year, even though it is still exceedingly wet. The view along our driveway looks much different today.

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Written by johnwhays

May 2, 2017 at 6:00 am

Taking Precautions

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A few steps forward, and one giant leap back from spring. It is interesting how different 36° (F) can feel depending on whether arriving to it from above or below. When it has been below freezing for months, a day that reaches 36° can feel dramatically warm.

When it has recently been 70° outside, a dip down to 36° feels despicably cold. Same temperature, different perspective.

This morning feels despicable.

Up until now, I have been purposefully avoiding paying attention to the status of the tree we transplanted to the center of the labyrinth last fall. We’ve failed enough times before –three to be exact– that I’m attempting to avoid getting excited too soon.

A couple of days ago, Cyndie texted a picture of the many new leaves that have emerged. Time for my denial to end. With the threat of sub-freezing temperatures predicted, we felt it necessary to cover the sapling for protection from the cold.

It was a challenge, because the sprouts are so delicate that some dropped simply from the abuse of my clumsy attempt to get the sheet up and over the top.

Regardless, I feel better to have tried protecting it, than if we’d done nothing. I’ve watched too many of our other small trees with delicate early growth wither and die in the past two years when warm spring days were followed by hard freezes.

I’m hoping this tree turns out to be as robust as the ten chicks we ordered through the mail have proved to be.

I may be trying to protect myself from disappointment, but I won’t give up without doing everything I can to improve the odds of success. With the cold temperatures, the saturated wetness now, and the likely dry spells to come, we have our work cut out for us for many months ahead.

Here’s hope that our precautions pay off in every way.

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Written by johnwhays

April 28, 2017 at 6:00 am

Going Slow

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We are in a bit of a rush this morning. After staying out late last night at Gary’s for dinner and music, we are hosting brunch for Cyndie’s family in a couple of hours. Although we started preparations early yesterday, there is much to be done right down to the last minute.

Care for our animals does not get postponed, so we end up feeling like we are trying to do two things at once. The natural result of that is, we try to rush everything we do.

I gotta say, rushing things tends not to be my favorite mode. I definitely prefer going slow, especially when it comes to being with our horses. Even when there is more to be done than there is time for, I can’t help pausing in the morning sun, breathing in the spring air, and just being quiet around the herd for a few moments.

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I ponder over the incredible saturation of soil we are currently in the middle of, amplified right now by the 4.5 inches of rain that has fallen over the last two days. I marvel at how quickly –overnight!– the rain greened up the grass. I smile at the new buds popping open throughout our woods.

It definitely feels like spring has sprung.

Growing things obviously aren’t going slow now, so my pauses to enjoy will become squeezed between frantic efforts to keep up with the mowing and trimming that is already on the verge of demanding attention in some spots.

Life can be a delicate balance of hurrying up and slowing down all at the same time.

See? Opposites attract!

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Written by johnwhays

April 16, 2017 at 10:02 am

Mud Happens

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It’s that time of year. One good reason we want woodchips for our trails is the mudfest we are faced with in low areas and avenues where ground water makes its way down to these lower areas.

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There is a trick to getting the woodchips, though. You need to get to the piles of branches without getting stuck in the mud!

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The ground looked innocuous enough, subtly covered with turf. Beneath that facade of grass hid a soft soup of mushy mud that pulled the tractor tires ever-deeper with each attempt to move either forward or back.

Ultimately, Cyndie and I outsmarted the soft soil with precisely placed scraps of wood fence posts behind the tires while I manipulated the loader bucket to push the tractor backwards.

I think it’s going to take a long time to replace the divots along that stretch. It’s going to need to wait until the mud gets a lot less soupy for real repairs to take hold.

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Written by johnwhays

April 9, 2017 at 9:16 am

Soft Ground

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Nature didn’t live up to what the forecasters had predicted for us on Sunday. The temperature struggled to approach 50° (F) and the sky never really cleared enough to allow the sun to make much difference. Despite the less-than-inspiring conditions, Cyndie and I rallied our energies to pull out the wood chipper for another round of chewing up brush piles.

Since we are in the wonderful season when the top layer of soil is freezing and thawing daily, I had hoped to park the tractor on the driveway again, near the next largest pile of branches. Unfortunately, that meant the chute would be pointed directly into the wind and everything coming out would blow right back at the tractor.

Plan B had me moving a short distance off the pavement so we could point in a direction where the wind wouldn’t be a problem. Things progressed swimmingly until I apparently tossed in a limb that too closely resembled the petrified oak branches that foiled our efforts last time out.

I instantly realized I had completely forgotten to shop for more robust shear bolts after the previous go-round when the hardware replacement broke as fast as I installed it. Details, details.

I think I’ll remember to buy new bolts this time, especially if I do it on the way home from work today. No time like the present.

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Written by johnwhays

March 20, 2017 at 6:00 am