Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘summer

Long Goodbye

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We are thoroughly enjoying what is turning out to be a superb stretch of end-of-summer weather this week. It makes me realize how many times earlier in the season we were subject to rainy days that interfered with our plans. Summer is showing us some mercy and executing a precious long goodbye with warm sunshine bathing the leaves that are transitioning to their brilliant fall colors.

Now if we only had some big plans scheduled for these gorgeous days. Instead, our next event is happening this coming Saturday, when the forecast changes from all sunshine to chances of rain. Timing is everything.

In the mean time, we are soaking up the beauty and relishing the picture-perfect summery-ness of these waning days.

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Doesn’t this just make you want to sit a spell?

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Written by johnwhays

September 12, 2017 at 6:00 am

Waning Days

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In the slow but steady march of days away from one season and toward the next, we have now arrived to chilly mornings, complete darkness when I wake up for the day-job, and leaves changing from green to red.

Last week when I mowed, I noticed this sprinkling of color in the grass beneath the maple tree that always turns the earliest. It’s become a reliable harbinger of the beginning of the end of summer for us.

I should be thrilled. Autumn has always been my favorite season. But I think that is changing. Maybe, with age, I am developing a more balanced perspective. I think it feels more accurate now to frame my view as appreciating all the seasons equally.

Today is the first day of the Minnesota State Fair. That means a lot more to me in theory than it does in practice. I rarely attend the fair anymore, however, the memories I hold from past visits, and the one year I worked a booth there, are a thread that keeps me feeling connected, whether I go or not. It is a blast of activity that serves as an exclamation mark at the end of summer.

It all has me feeling a little melancholy, which is rather uncharacteristic for me this time of year. Luckily, it can’t last, as the season of wood fires brings me great joy, and we have already lit a couple in the fireplace to ward off a bit of chill in the last few days.

Bring on the fall sports, the spectacular colors, the crisp air, the end of bugs, the time between mowing and shoveling, the harvest festivals, and Cyndie’s apple crisps.

The waning days of summer become the waxing days of autumn. Bring it on, I say.

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Written by johnwhays

August 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

Live Ball

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I was out late in the big city last night at a Twins game. All the lights and pageantry of Major League Baseball, but not much to cheer about for the home team.

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The best part of the whole night was the weather. Another glorious summer night, as comfortable as ever.

That benefit was followed closely by the fellowship of longtime friends, including my son, Julian, who was a last-minute addition to the crew. I was able to take advantage of a guest parking spot at his building and we walked the few blocks to the ballpark.

It was more than enough fun to make it worth the resulting lack of a full night’s sleep.

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Written by johnwhays

August 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Inviting Portals

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When it comes to forest bathing, we have a wide variety of enticing portals inviting one to dip a toe…

It’s enough to make a person want to dive right in to breathe the immunizing forest air.

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Can you feel yourself inhaling deep at the sight?

We also have portals leading to open and airy trails along the borders of our fields.

Stepping through this last opening brings you to the entrance to our Rowcliffe Forest Garden Labyrinth, a large 11-circuit Chartes labyrinth. It lies just out of sight to the right of the opening, which I think makes this portal the most enticing of all.

Plus, the labyrinth is tucked up against the edge of our main forest, so walking the circuitous path provides an added side-benefit of breathing the health emanating from the trees.

Our paradise beckons with irresistible enticements. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself to figure out I’m not dreaming.

This morning, the trees are silent in the calm, moist summer air. Out our open windows and doors I hear the mesmerizing music of the pond waterfall, singing birds, and chirping insects. Most importantly, that is all I hear. There is no sound of traffic. No planes, trains, or automobiles.

Mornings like this are priceless.

It’s not that we are immune to the sounds of mechanization. We do experience the occasional passing of small planes. Warm weekends might offer up the roar of a passing train of motorcycles buzzing along County N toward the El Paso Bar and Grill. The neighboring fields get plowed, planted, and harvested by large farm tractors as the season dictates.

Finally, if it’s not the neighbors, it’s our own doing to be shattering the bucolic ambiance with the droning whine of small gas engines with a trimmer, chainsaw, or lawn mower.

It’s a necessary evil of creating and maintaining the inviting portals that grace our little nook in the beautiful countryside of western Wisconsin.

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Thinking Ahead

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One of the things about writing daily for a blog is the consistency of repeatedly coming upon the start of a new month. It keeps happening over and over again, I tell you. Like clockwork. Like turning pages of a calendar.

Somehow, we have reached the beginning of the month of August. Goodbye, July.

If I were sincerely successful in achieving the art of always living in the present moment, this transition to a new month would take on a lot less significance. But, August just oozes end of summer and throws me headlong into mental images of September.

The local media can’t stop talking about the great Minnesota State Fair already, which is the very definition of the start of September to me.

Cyndie served up locally grown sweet corn for dinner last night, because they grocery store had just received a batch and staff were in process of setting it out as she walked by the display. Summer may be a time for corn on the cob, but just-picked sweet corn is a delight that happens in August here and it always seems to end as quickly as it starts. If I blink while eating it, the school year will be starting by the time my eyes open.

And if ‘back to school’ ads in every form aren’t bad enough, the frighteningly early appearance of school buses on the road in August distorts every effort to avoid the trap of thinking ahead. Bus drivers are busy training and learning routes, so my mind leaps to planning how to time my travels to miss their constant stopping when the kids show up.

News reports from NFL training camps are all triggering a dormant remnant of youthful passion for the sport that always finds ways to rekindle within me despite my better judgement. Football is a mashup of fall associations that pulls all the way into winter and a playoff season that flows past the new year.

That definitely goes against staying grounded in the here and now.

Ultimately, there is one aspect that towers above all the rest of the issues of August. One that tears me away from the present moment in an ever-so-subtle –yet not so subtle at all– change that is absolutely happening in the precise minutes of each and every late-July/early-August day. It is the constant slipping of the sunrise and sunset times.

The first time I notice it is suddenly dark when I am leaving for work in the morning, I feel an uncanny urge to wear a flannel shirt. I start wondering where I stashed my driving gloves last April. I notice a nagging compulsion to fill the firewood rack on the back deck.

Today may only be August 1st, but this time of year unleashes a flood of energy dragging me uncontrollably ahead into September and beyond.

Actually, it’s all probably just a symptom of the powerful true root cause… Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year.

Happy August everyone!

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All Games

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It’s all fun and games at the lake this weekend. The 4th of July celebration at Wildwood is a tradition of classic competitions between teams of bats (blue shirts) and mice (red shirts). Under a spectacular sunny summer sky yesterday, we waged battle of kicking shoes, eating watermelon, tossing water balloons, a sponge brigade, a scavenger hunt, and moving a greased watermelon across a goal line in the lake.

It almost always comes out a tie, but both teams tend to claim victory over the other. I guess that is part of the tradition, too.

There’s a rendition of the National Anthem around the flagpole and a parade up the driveway past all the homes and back again.

The grand finale is a world-class dinner in the lodge after some spectacular appetizers on the lawn out front.

It doesn’t feel like the American political system is all that great lately, but the energy of people celebrating our independence was as great as ever.

Cyndie and I retired early to keep Delilah company in the loft bedroom under the soothing white noise of a loud fan while the banging and popping of small-time fireworks rattled the night.

It feels like a summer holiday.

Saturday evening the immediate family held a rousing tutorial of the game Tripoly with two of Cyndie’s nephews who, to our surprise, somehow made it to their late teens without ever playing the game. It was a stellar first-time exposure as the game involved some major drama in the last two hands.

Two different rare hands were dealt in the final two rounds, but neither player was able to play them out and collect the reward, because another player used up their cards first and ended the rounds.

We dealt a couple of poker hands to divide up the unclaimed chips and Steve’s son, Eric, came out on top. To my great relief, the chips were issued at no cost, so my pocket book was spared the damages that I would have otherwise suffered.

It’s all fun and games, until someone gets hurt.

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Written by johnwhays

July 3, 2017 at 6:00 am

Feeling Summer

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I like the simple designation of meteorological seasons by month, over the astrological solstice and equinox markers. My brain senses the longest day should mark the middle of summer and the shortest day, the middle of winter. By meteorological reference, summer happens in June, July, and August.

It sure felt like summer on the second day of June this year. Last night, as we tried to cool the house by opening windows to the evening air, the enticing sounds of heavy, distant rumbling thunder rolled slowly closer and closer. Eventually, we enjoyed an almost gentle thunderstorm that this morning has left barely a trace of its visit.

Except for the amazing response of growing things. Our landscape is under siege.

Just beyond our deck, the previous prominent low spruce is getting swallowed by ferns from behind and volunteer cedar trees from the front. The clematis on our trellis is being crowded out by a volunteer maple that decided to make itself at home there.

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I don’t understand why the scotch pine to the left of the trellis is so anemic. Everything around it is growing fast and furious. It is possibly being hindered by the same affliction taking down so many of our long needle pines.

The ornamental reeds in our little garden pond are spreading themselves well beyond the edges, giving the impression they will soon fill the space if left unhampered.

Meanwhile, the climbing vines are voraciously trying to blanket all of our trees, the unwanted grasses taking over our pastures, and poison ivy is thriving like you wouldn’t believe.

What’s a gardener to do? I tend to prefer a hands-off approach to the nature-scape, but we are finding the land inundated with invasives and trouble-makers that require decisive action. Desirables like maple trees are sprouting in places where they don’t belong, and though prized, will become problems if neglected.

I must overcome my reluctance and sharpen my skills of seek and destroy, or at least aggressively prune, prune, prune.

In the same way we wish broccoli tasted like chocolate, Cyndie and I are wishing the desired plants would simply crowd out weeds to the point all we needed to do would be a little cutting of the grass and lounging in the garden.

All you folks wanting to suggest we get some goats… it is increasingly weighing on my mind. Maybe I will try renting some for a trial run.

There just aren’t enough hours in a day for us to manage the explosion of growth summer brings.

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Written by johnwhays

June 3, 2017 at 9:02 am