Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘spring

Rain Ready

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It feels rather unusual to be saying we are ready for rain to fall after so many spring months through the years where we have battled managing too much rain. It could be because I finally built that footbridge over the drainage ravine that we have a dry spring. All our drainage swales are bone dry.

The exercise of mowing the grass yesterday was an exceptionally dusty one.

Our forecast paints a picture of soaking rain due to arrive later today and lasting through tomorrow. We could get up to two inches according to the weather folks. This morning will be a rush of completing as many outdoor chores as possible before confining ourselves indoors where Cyndie has plans to sew more masks. The face coverings have become a necessary accessory for being out and about in public spaces.

The inverted stump planter has a combination of geranium, lantana bandana, vinca vine, and potato vine installed and ready for watering. She transplanted some catmint from the labyrinth to surround the stump. They can spread out in the new location, where they were expanding problematically into the pathway in the labyrinth.

After felling all those trees under the two big oaks, one of which is in the background of the image above, we have two big stacks of wood to be converted to chips that Cyndie intends to use around all her new plantings. I may try to begin that process before lunch today, but from the looks of the sky already, I may run into a rain delay.

That won’t bother me at all.

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Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2020 at 8:28 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

Special Report

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How many times do we have to hear the “special” announcements before we grow numb? I can’t answer that because I wasn’t counting last week when the numbness began to set in. During these “uncertain times” affecting everyone in the world, businesses that are scrambling to adjust are all issuing announcements of what they are doing to be safe, stay safe, help you, help others, unfortunately, to the point of becoming downright annoying.

It is my civic duty to assure all readers that Relative Something is striving to do everything possible to assure that all posts are maintaining a proper social distance and avoiding going to restaurants or concerts until this crisis is over. Epidemiologists are confident that reading blog posts is unlikely to pose unreasonable risks of transfer of the coronavirus, so feel free to spend extra time during your sheltering at home to visit the “Previous Somethings” archive to rediscover what the world was like before 2020.

Yesterday, in effort to clean up some of the mud-saster around here, Delilah and I –well, mostly me, she just sat nearby and stared toward the chickens in the woods– dismantled six pallets to reclaim enough lumber for extending the boardwalk on one of our trails by about seven rows.

You can see a difference one day makes when it comes to spring snow. The white stuff has melted, but that leaves behind a wet, muddy mess for trail conditions.

Actually, it was frozen this morning due to low overnight temperatures, so we hauled a wheelbarrow full of the blocks down into the woods before breakfast. The reward for that effort resulted in a special condition on Delilah’s hairy legs that I call “mudcicles.”

The doggie towels we keep at the front door for drying her feet when we come in from a walk aren’t able to wipe off all the frozen mud stuck in the long hairs on the back of her legs. That tends to slowly melt off around the house over the following hour after we come in.

Luckily, since I am home alone and am not able to host any guests during the pandemic crisis, I simply pretend not to notice how gross the house is becoming. When I try communicating with others in the world via Zoom or FaceTime, I just make sure to keep the camera pointing well above the floor.

Rest assured, despite the thin coating of silt covering every flat surface of the house, the risk of transmission of the coronavirus continues to remain unlikely.

Stay safe while washing your hands everyone!

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Written by johnwhays

April 5, 2020 at 9:56 am

Wintry Spring

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The weather prank that would have fit nicely on April Fools’ Day happened two days late for that honor. Yesterday afternoon the flakes started flying and, beautiful as they can be, didn’t stop until there was an ugly couple of inches covering everything.

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Overnight last night, the temperature dropped to 22°(F) making it not only look like winter but feel like it, too.

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers. Well, April snow just might be an improvement on that because the snow tends to stay in place and soak the ground as it melts. If the forecasts are correct, this snow will disappear quickly.

The temperature shows signs of reaching 70 by Tuesday they are saying.

Growing things should find that enticing.

My reaction is to give the lawn tractor attention in preparation for the season ahead.

It is always startling when the number of days between putting away the snow shovel and getting out the lawnmower can be counted on the fingers of my two hands.

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Written by johnwhays

April 4, 2020 at 9:23 am

As Predicted

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The weather on Saturday and Sunday played out just as the forecasters predicted. Windy, cold, gray, wet, snowy, lightning & thunder, and did I mention, windy? I have to go back to work today, and what are meteorologists saying about how today will shape up? Sunny and mid-50s (F). It figures.

We had standing water in the labyrinth. That’s a rarity.

The next shot is not the drainage swale, it’s the North Loop trail. I coulda used a kayak.

The water was even making its way into the barn.

Delilah and I did the morning walk yesterday in a snow shower.

She had her eyes on a robin that seemed oblivious to the presence of a potential predator. I think the birds act that way around Delilah because they know they can fly out of reach in the nick of time.

The presence of robins in the yard is a sure sign of spring. Another inspiring sight to witness is the first shoots of allium making an appearance.

I have a feeling the greenery is going to burst forth with dramatic swiftness when the sun finally replaces the gray skies of the last two days.

It would be a welcome bonus if we could get a decent number of dry days in a row, as well.

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Written by johnwhays

March 30, 2020 at 6:00 am

Trail Bulge

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For some reason, the heaving path down the middle of our trails fascinates me. Some days the bulge stands out dramatically. Yesterday, I tried to take pictures that would show how high it had risen, but the two-dimensional images just don’t do it justice.

First, I tried shooting from my eye height when standing. Then I crouched down and snapped a shot for comparison.

I’m not sure there is any difference between the two for revealing the surprising upheaval of earth compared to the ground on either side of it.

The hump is frozen solid, but the very top surface of leaves and dirt melt just enough to get slippery. It becomes a challenge of constantly choosing whether to step on the residual ice or the decaying leaves for the better footing, ever wary that either could result in a slip.

Add in the frequent jolts on the leash when Delilah wants to make haste after some critter ahead and it’s a wonder we ever make it back to the house clean and dry.

When the trail offers better all-snow footing, and during the summer when it’s not very wet, I occasionally allow Delilah to race as fast as she wants and run behind her, but that is chaos for planting my feet. It tends to be at a pace that I can’t maintain for very long, after which she willingly settles down to a brisk walk and I spend the rest of the jaunt gasping to recover my breath.

Over the weekend, I noticed that it is the corner fence posts that are all getting pushed up, despite my having released much of the tension from the wires.

It is easy to push the fence posts back down using the loader on the diesel tractor. Almost too easy. The first time I tried it, I was shocked over how little resistance there was to the hydraulic power and weight of the bucket. The complication is that the period of time when the ground is thawed enough to easily accept the posts being pushed down, the tires sink in and put me at risk of getting stuck and/or tearing up the surrounding turf something awful.

It becomes a classic case of timing being everything.

I’m not going to worry about the fence posts for now, but I will be anxiously awaiting the trails getting back to flat again as soon as the frost goes out of the ground.

Bring on the spring mud season!

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Written by johnwhays

March 17, 2020 at 6:00 am

Big Melt

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If it was possible to measure, I’d claim yesterday as the day when the balance tipped from winter to spring around here. It certainly appears so in terms of the snowpack. That glacial iceberg that was covering the land has suddenly transformed into a massive snow-cone ice dessert spill.

Look at that texture and try to convince yourself it doesn’t appear as though a shaved ice machine must have overflowed.

Even though there are a lot of places where the ground has become fully exposed, there still remain significant areas in the woods where the depth of snow is almost to my knees. Imagine what it’s like when you step in snow-cone shaved ice that is deeper than the top of your boot.

Yeah, like that.

Out by the road, there was a clear delineation where the edge of winter’s glacier was receding.

Our local forecast is teasing a chance for 60°(F) over the coming weekend. That will be a pleasant “welcome home” for Cyndie, who is currently in Florida with Elysa for a short visit with Fred and Marie. A warm weekend here will be like a cool night down there.

I’m back to entertaining the pooch non-stop from the moment I walk in the door after work until I put her to bed in her crate. She was insufferably persistent in begging for attention last night, only the first day without her mamma around. Lucky for Delilah, that sweet face is pretty irresistible.

She won several full-body massages and multiple exploratory expeditions around the grounds. My writing is slowed significantly when typing with one hand while the other is fending off her insistent snout pleading for interaction.

I’m clinging to the evidence supporting how much emotional benefit there is from having the companionship of a dog.

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Written by johnwhays

March 4, 2020 at 7:00 am

Weather Fatigue

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I succeeded in getting all our grass and innumerable dandelions mowed Sunday. I have one peeve about mowing this time of year, when the lovely yellow flowering weed is at its peak and starting to go to seed.

Do you see it? All that grass so freshly cut and one 10-inch dandelion stem sticking out like a sore thumb. There were others, but that one just stood out so defiantly, I couldn’t help but stop and take a picture. Then I snapped it off by hand.

Mowing dandelions can be a frustrating endeavor for a perfectionist.

Like the meteorologists predicted, Memorial Day was a total washout. It reminds me of two years ago this month when I had tried to host a day of cycling with friends in preparation for the Tour of Minnesota.

I captured this memory from that day:

I have gotten smarter about trying to make outdoor plans that prefer sunny, warm weather. I simply don’t make them. Yesterday, we responded precisely as a cold, rainy day deserves, snuggling back in bed for some extra reading and napping.

Pequenita was all in with that plan.

She doesn’t have a problem with this weather. Personally, I am getting worn down by this chilly rain pattern we have endured so far this spring. Sure, I wouldn’t mind if I could curl up and nap all day, but the landscape doesn’t stop growing just because it’s not sunny and warm outside.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and this trend will peter out by the time the bike trip kicks off in the middle of June.

It would help my frame of mind greatly if that were to happen because we are headed far enough north for this year’s route that cold and rainy could translate into a little sleety/snowy, if you know what I mean.

That would definitely exacerbate my current case of weather fatigue.

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Written by johnwhays

May 28, 2019 at 6:00 am

Muddy Trail

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Despite all the sprouting greenery, there is more moisture in the soil lately than the growing trees and plants can absorb. That is making our trails rather treacherous. It is very advantageous to have our custom boardwalk for a short span in the middle of the woods.

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Obviously, it’s a little short on both ends. We have a greater length of mud than wooden blocks to pave over the path.

Out in the grassy field, the dandelions are thriving, despite our general shortage of warm sunshine compared to most springtimes I’ve experienced. Now I read that the National Weather Service is predicting a cooler than average summer along with more than a usual amount of rain.

It is uninspiring to envision months of weather like this dragging on throughout the summer.

I don’t blame a dandelion for giving up early.

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Written by johnwhays

May 24, 2019 at 6:00 am

Leaves Again

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They’re ba-aack! Walking through the woods is a wonderful change when the leaves return. We’ll be breathing a whole ‘nother level of healthy air on our strolls, with tree leaves breathing again.

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Looking uphill, and down, the greenery is dramatically more noticeable with each passing day.

Hopefully, none of these new leaves succumbed to frost overnight. The incredibly wet weekend transitioned into uncomfortably cold yesterday, bringing on a frost advisory that had Cyndie covering her newly planted flowers.

I don’t want to look.

I’m going to keep my eyes on a future day when summer warmth becomes established with more than the fleeting glimpses we have been treated to thus far this spring.

At least having a forest of green leaves again is a start.

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Written by johnwhays

May 20, 2019 at 6:00 am