Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘spring

New Trillium

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This time of year the ground in our forests comes alive in response to the sunlight available before the leaves open fully to block much of it out. We have tried transplanting Trillium from the lake place in Hayward with hopes of establishing a thicket of self-expanding sprouts in the groves of trees closer to the house.

In the eight years we have dabbled with the project, the results have been a little anemic. Some seasons there have been encouraging numbers of flowers blossoming on the plants we relocated, but other years there haven’t been very many. During the first few years after transplanting, I was satisfied just to see the leaves show up in proof the plants were still alive.

Now I am more interested in finding some natural expansion of plants to offer some promise of achieving our goals. Just yesterday, Cyndie made an exciting find. Can you see it?

The interesting fact about that single flowering plant is that it showed up somewhere that we didn’t plant a batch.

Today we plan to audit the areas where we planted sets of three individual plants in little triangles to see how those are coming along. If they are flowering, it is easy to spot them. If not, the leaves can be easily overlooked among the variety of other ground cover thriving under all the sunshine temporarily available.

In a surprisingly short span of time, the forest floor will be predominantly shaded under the canopy of tree leaves that will be fluttering overhead.

Speaking of shade from trees, Cyndie also recently captured this image of a great shadow pattern of leafless branches from this young maple tree by the barn.

That view will be morphing very soon to a much less defined depiction of the branches.

The springing of spring is well underway. It makes the brief appearance of trillium blossoms all the more precious. Once the heat of summer arrives, the trillium tends to disappear from sight. At that point, hopefully, the colonies of rhizomes will be busy at work expanding under the leaf cover of the forest floor.

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Written by johnwhays

May 14, 2021 at 6:00 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

Posted in Chronicle

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Sky Colors

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We enter our third day of the current weather trend where rain is expected all day but comes in bands that are separated by reasonably agreeable conditions that don’t last long and end without warning. One minute it is actually a rather nice day and then, nope, it’s raining like crazy for a second but now it’s just a spattering drizzle.

During the week when I am occupied with the day-job, I rely heavily on the always interesting images that Cyndie captures while she is out walking Delilah or tending to the chickens. News is that our Rocky the Roo has become pretty frequent with his challenges to see if Momma is still at the top of the pecking order.

Cyndie has needed to conjure up her “bigger-rooster-than-you” posture and gestures to convince Rocky that he doesn’t want to mess with the humans in charge. I sure hope our lessons will translate to include all other humans who come to visit, as well.

I wonder if Rocky let out a hearty morning crow for this sunrise Cyndie captured.

The rain has quickly transformed the color palette of our landscape toward a much greener hue. In addition to the burgeoning buds on branches, the areas of mowed grass are looking almost summer-like.

The real feature of this last shot, though, isn’t the green grass. It’s the fabulous light from above Cyndie captured highlighting that billowing cloud.

I really, really hope we get a few breaks in the rain this morning like the ones in these pictures because my Ritchie® automatic waterer installer told me last night that he would stop by in the morning and that’s the closest I’ve come yet to getting him to commit to an actual day and approximate block of time since I first requested his assistance two or three weeks ago.

When the source of skills and knowledge desired is also a really like-able guy, it is easier to endure the anguish of waiting for him to eventually get around to it, but it sure tests a patient man’s patience. I will be exceedingly happy when (and admittedly, if) he shows up.

Maybe I’ll have time to take pictures of an interesting sky while I’m down there eagerly waiting in a couple of hours.

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Written by johnwhays

April 9, 2021 at 6:00 am

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

Spring Erupting

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It is fascinating to witness what a couple of days with temperatures in the 80s unleashes in the natural world. Between the heady gusts of wind randomly battering us throughout the day, the myriad sounds of emerging frogs are woven into the songbird whistles on top of a persistent snapping and cracking of pinecones gradually, but steadily, opening.

New buds are appearing on tree branches and ground cover plants are sprouting tiny flower blossoms.

Cyndie reported that our neighbor to the south was out on his lawn tractor, appearing to mow the grass. I am not surprised to learn he is already out on his machine, as he mows more acres, more often than anyone I have ever seen. I just don’t know how he found any grass tall enough to cut yet. Our grass doesn’t look like it will be ready to mow until tomorrow or the next day.

Rain is forecast for the rest of the week and temperatures are expected to moderate. That will only pause the explosion of growth unfolding before our eyes for a moment because the water will hydrate thirsty plants and launch a monumental next phase of greening to our surroundings.

Seems a little odd that a frog would seek shelter from some rain, but Cyndie found this little guy hanging out under the recliner in our sunroom.

Is that some sort of hint about how wet the next few days will be? Maybe how cold it will get?

No matter how nice and warm the last few days have been, it is always in the back of my mind that we received 18 inches of snow on the 2nd & 3rd of May in 2013. Nice weather today is no guarantee it will continue through the rest of spring.

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Written by johnwhays

April 6, 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

Yard Pests

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As the saying goes, “this is why we can’t have nice things.” Sure I’d like to have a smooth green carpet of inviting lawn grass to run my toes through as I frolic in the yard with our dog or play croquet and bocce ball, but no, I don’t want to exterminate a throng of burrowing pest to achieve it.

We pick our battles and this is one I don’t want to fight, so we live with the ongoing dirt mounds and raised tunnels of destruction scattered widely across all of our mowed areas.

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With so much real estate available for the critters to thrive, we willed the marauders to move on to open fields by stomping their tunnels and mounds in our yard last year, but as the snow receded and the topsoil begins to thaw, the evidence appears as if their numbers have tripled.

They aren’t getting the message.

The wind is blowing warm air our way today and bringing with it fire warnings because the ground is very dry this spring. Almost all of the snow has melted and we don’t have any muddy areas along our trails. The drainage ditches had water flowing in them only two times this year. It is surprisingly uncharacteristic compared to the previous 8 spring seasons we’ve lived here.

If we observe the yard at a distance, it looks just fine. There remains one dwindling pile of snow near the front door, but that’s about it. Today is officially the first day of spring.

Warm sunshine will beckon for us to romp in the yard and toss the old horse toys for Delilah to chase.

The season of mowing draws nigh, but we are going to need some rain or I’ll be able to trim the lawn with a pair of scissors.

Although, that might just be enough to drive the yard pests back toward the open fields. Either way, it seems we don’t get to have nice lawns.

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Written by johnwhays

March 20, 2021 at 9:54 am

Snow Returns

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It is March, after all. We expect it to snow after the weather has been warm and gorgeous for days. It is one of the foundations of the prevailing expectation that “the other shoe will drop” when things are beginning to go too good in the weather department around these parts. Mother Nature wouldn’t want to let us off too easily with a quick and painless slide directly into spring, don’t ya know.

I watched the weather radar most of the day from the workplace and it looked like Beldenville was getting just as much snow as the sloppy mess that was covering my car by the time I was ready to leave. As soon as I got underway in the limited visibility due to heavy falling snowflakes, I phoned Cyndie to find out what was waiting for me on the other end of my commute.

She shocked me with a report of zero precipitation falling and just grey skies all day long. Well, that is, except for first thing in the morning.

Cyndie had sent me that image earlier in the day. “Red sky in the morning, Sailor take warning…”

For all the radar signals I’d seen over our area most of the day, none of the precipitation was reaching the ground. I hardly believed her, especially given the intensity of the blizzard I was driving through at the time. Then I reached the halfway point of my commute and the falling snow abruptly stopped.

The road was dry. The rest of my drive was clear sailing. I drove right past our place to arrive on time at my dentist’s office for a regular 6-month appointment, stopping just as little white flakes started to fall there. The precipitation finally was reaching the ground.

By the time I made it home, the snow was just beginning to cover the ground, although, it was already drifting off the roof.

As darkness fell and Cyndie trudged out to close the chicken coop, she wondered if it would be necessary to clear them a path from the barn overhang to the coop.

Nope. They took it upon themselves to muster the gumption for a mad dash bee-line route through the white stuff for the shortest distance between two points.

So much for Rocky’s usual prissy refusal to walk on snow unless momma shovels a path for him. I knew he didn’t have some medical condition that prevented his feet from being able to touch snow, but I think he had convinced Cyndie with his act.

Once all the birds were accounted for in the safe confines of the coop and all the eggs had been collected, Cyndie reported a record of ‘most-eggs-in-a-day’ for this brood: Eleven eggs from thirteen hens.

They’re not going to let a return to a little cold and snow slow them down.

Just in time, our new extra-large ice cube trays arrived yesterday for Cyndie to use for freezing eggs, sans shells. Convenient storage for future use in baking or cooking egg dishes when we no longer get a dozen eggs a day.

What can be said, except, “Eggcellent!”

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Written by johnwhays

March 16, 2021 at 6:00 am

Seasonal Scenes

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We are definitely in transition mode. The maple syrup producers are collecting sap as the daytime temps rise above freezing and then dip back down overnight. The ditches have started to fill with running water. Moisture is leaving the snowpack and going airborne.

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The patchy fog makes driving to work in the dark a real challenge as the visibility drops to zero in a blink one minute and becomes clear as a bell the next.

The receding snow cover unveils evidence of the rodent activity that goes on out of sight beneath the icy blanket. No wonder our dog cocks her head and looks down at the snow like an arctic fox and then leaps into the nose-first dive after whatever is making that sound that only dog and fox ears seem to detect.

The chickens are reveling in the expanding exposure of insect-rich soil. They have also amped up their egg production to record levels for this brood.

Today they may get a dose of March rain that forecasters hint could include some thunder by afternoon. By next week, the precipitation will likely be back to snow.

These are all typical scenes of our season of transition known as the month of March.

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Written by johnwhays

March 10, 2021 at 7:00 am