Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘summer

Last Hurrah

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Taking full advantage of immersing ourselves in the last Sunday of the summer season up at the lake, we hiked, swam, boated, feasted, visited, and began putting away water toys. Hosting members of Friswold’s adopted family, the Birgens, we had added reasons to wander the grounds and socialize with fellow “Wildwooders.” Wildwoodites? Member clans of the incredible Wildwood Lodge Club (WWLC).

The holiday weekend inspired an additional reason to gather members, so Cyndie and her mom invited everyone to our place for a 5 o’clock cocktail party with socializing around the fire. With flashback memories of the way it was done when Cyndie was a kid up here, that fire was then used to cook burgers for our dinner.

In another throwback to a bygone era, I got out my little travel guitar and “strumgled” [strummed and struggled] a few songs from the cobwebs of my fading memory. It was sufficient to punctuate the culmination of a fabulous day at the lake honoring the last events of summer.

Today, the Birgens will head out on the last leg of their journey, taking their youngest, Jonathon, to his first year of college. Cyndie, her mom, and I will linger one more night and head home tomorrow.

In the wee hours before dawn this morning, our gentle slumber was serenaded by the wistful echoing calls of an owl in the woods outside our window. It truly feels like we are experiencing summer’s last hurrah.



Written by johnwhays

September 5, 2022 at 8:47 am

Superb Escapades

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Superlatives. Yesterday was as wonderful as the day before and served to amplify the pleasantries we enjoyed tenfold. The weather helped to accommodate anything and everything we found to do, including replacing an ailing screen door.

It looked simple enough until the door Mike and I picked up at the lumber yard in Hayward proved to be an inch taller than the one we were replacing. It appeared the old one had been cut down to fit so we borrowed a circular saw and did the same thing. After much searching, we found an old can of still viable stain and successfully completed the unplanned project.

We also received new insights about our trees from an arborist whose services were enlisted to analyze the health of trees around the group of properties that form the Wildwood Lodge Club, of which Cyndie’s family are long-time members. Near the end of winter last year there was a storm that brought down a lot of big branches and a few trees. The size of some of the limbs was enough to inspire seeking professional advice.

Between those events, the day allowed for paddle board and kayak excursions, we swam and sunbathed, and played a mini-tournament of games. Horseshoes, ladder golf, corn hole bag toss, darts, cards, and an encore round of “Fishbowl,” the triple-game of Taboo, Charades, and Password.

On a walk around the property, we twice enjoyed a close encounter with a doe with three very young fawns. They did not stray far after we came upon them the first time such that we found them again, a little further along in the woods where they were munching on ferns.

Cooking dinner on the fire was so good on Friday that we ended up doing it again yesterday.

Today will be a smidgeon less superlative as we adjust to the early departure of our friends, Barb and Mike as they head back for time with their grandkids this afternoon.

Superb, nonetheless.



Written by johnwhays

July 31, 2022 at 9:48 am

Berry Season

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It’s a little later in the summer than what we have experienced over the past ten years, but we aren’t complaining. Wild black raspberries are showing up all over our property this week. This is made more thrilling by the fact we lost many bushes to a rust fungus that is extremely contagious. Over the last two years, Cyndie has dug up countless plants in an attempt to limit the spread to adjacent bushes that showed no signs of disease.

To offset the losses, Cyndie has been working to establish a patch of red raspberry bushes that aren’t susceptible to the rust disease. Unfortunately, the deer liked the spot where she planted them and munched off the tops of the plants before they could flower. No red raspberries showing up now.

With the black raspberries now ripening everywhere we turn, it would be wise to always bring a pale along on our daily dog-walking excursions. Berry picking can spontaneously occur at any time when the berries all ripen at once.

Cyndie has found that her efforts to cover the entire property when the season is at its peak could become an endless loop. By the time she returns to the place she started, more new ripe berries appear and she could just keep on going round and round again.

In contrast, her strawberry patch is all in one place. The biggest battle there seems to be a resident squirrel with a taste for the fruit. In classic squirrel behavior, this varmint tends to just take a bite out of each berry it can reach instead of eating just the entirety of one. Maybe it is trying to lay claim on as many as possible with the intent of returning later for a larger feast.

As much fun and sublimely delicious as it is to get fresh strawberries from our own patch, Cyndie says there aren’t enough to fulfill her desires for her massive jam-making extravaganzas. When she returns from the holiday weekend at the lake, I believe there is a trip to the local berry farm in her plans.

She needs to get the strawberry projects completed to make way for the black raspberry jam and baked goods spectacles that immediately follow.

It’s looking like it will be a berry, berry good season for us this year.

I say, “Mmmm!” to that! Better late than never.



Written by johnwhays

July 5, 2022 at 6:00 am

Summer Progress

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The last few days have felt very much like classic summer days. I guess it is right on schedule as we now find ourselves in the Independence Day holiday weekend. Cyndie headed up to the lake with her mom yesterday and I stayed home to tend to our animals. We weren’t successful in securing coverage allowing us both to be away over the 4th of July weekend this year.

One classic sign of summer for us is the sight of our field converted into hay bales.

This year, Brad, who grazes cattle on our neighbor’s land, had his guy cut our hay field when cutting fields adjacent to us. A win-win for everyone as we wanted our field cut and hoped someone could use the hay, it was conveniently located for them to cut and bale, and it gives Brad a little more hay supply than he would have otherwise had.

Meanwhile, our horses have the back pasture for grazing. Yesterday evening, Delilah and I wandered out into the pasture to pull some weeds and the herd showed up to munch nearby.

The sound of the methodical biting of mouthfuls of grass as the horses torque their heads to break the blades and chew is a wonderful summer soundtrack backed up with songbirds, and the calls of frogs and crickets. It provides a soothing, meditative mood that nurtures my soul.

In contrast, serving up pans of manufactured nutritional feed pellets in the dry, dusty surface under the barn overhang can be a little irritating when things don’t go smoothly. I wish I didn’t so frequently find fault with the conditions as being either too wet and muddy or too dry and dusty. The days between those two states are way too few.

Since we allow the horses some autonomy –usually temporarily separating them into two groups of two– they are able to wander over and check out what the other horse was served, triggering a back and forth movement that foils the soothing sounds of contented munching we so enjoy.

Of the four horses, Light is the most prone to stepping into her feed pan, often tipping it rapidly and spilling the contents. In attempt to avoid them trying to eat the spillage out of the sand, which is not good for their gut, we have tried serving Light’s pan on a rubber mat.

I think we’re gonna need to use a bigger mat.



Written by johnwhays

July 2, 2022 at 9:58 am

Very Summery

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No complaints from us with the weather pattern we have been enjoying this week. Warm and sunny during the day and cool and comfortable overnight.

Here are some scenes reflecting the bliss:

A butterfly on our lilac bush and the four horses out grazing in the hay field as the sunlight was about to disappear below the horizon.

One summer trait the horses are not enjoying is the harassment by flies. We put out a fan to provide a minor assist in blowing the pests away.

Swings tends to claim that spot as her own and the others need to ingratiate themselves with her to earn an adjacent position that she will tolerate. I saw Light squeezed in there for a little while earlier in the day.

I claimed a few hours of the warm sunshine for a bike ride through our “Driftless” terrain, which means I sped down some fast descents and struggled to climb up the other side.

I made it out to Elmwood and back, but I wasn’t successful in my quest to ride the entire distance unsupported by battery assist. Honestly, I would have needed to call Cyndie to come pick me up if I didn’t have the motor to help me deal with the last ten miles. I’d lost track of how many river valleys remained and faced an unexpected steep climb that almost broke my spirit.

However, I survived and did so under some of the best weather at the best time of year our latitude has to offer. We live in a very beautiful topography that provides wonderful vistas of rolling farm fields peppered with wooded valleys and gorgeous trout streams where whitetail deer romp and fly fishermen cast their lines.

Very summery, indeed.



Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2022 at 6:00 am

Early Start

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Like a couple of young newlyweds, Cyndie and I got an early start to the holiday weekend and hustled north to the lake by ourselves a day before the massive crowds that will follow. A stop at Coop’s Pizza for our favorite choice in Hayward, then some authentic ice cream decadence at West’s Dairy for dessert, and we were in full lake-place weekend mode before ever reaching the “cabin.”

For the record, I splurged with one scoop each of Coconut Magic Bar and Chunky Musky.

There was some reminiscing about dining at Coop’s on our honeymoon almost 40-years ago, back when it was located in a former gas station on Highway 63. Cyndie burned her lip so bad when hot cheese pulled off the crust that she blistered.

After we unloaded the car, we topped off our night with access to satellite television Tour de France coverage rerunning the stage of day 6 and another Mark Cavendish sprint to the stage victory. We were happy as clams.

It has been longer than I can recall that we have been up at the lake two weekends in a row. This could get to be a habit. Thank goodness we have found a willing animal sitter in Anna, a student at UW River Falls.

It feels particularly summery, which is just as it should now that we are into July. Obviously, we don’t live in the southern hemisphere.

Watching the professional cyclists racing after having just spent some extended time on my bike tour along the Mississippi River in Minnesota provides a valuable perspective. Their accomplishments are so much more amazing than they make them appear.

I hope they get to have ice cream at the end of their daily races.

I visited a couple of Dairy Queens after my days of biking.

It was an early start to foiling my goals of eating less sugar than my addiction longs for. I can attest that doing so wreaks havoc on my attempts to control the brain’s tendency to crave sweetness full time.

Good thing my healthy routine will be able to resume as soon as this weekend is over. My summer brain is starting to think I should have ice cream every day.

I’m afraid the rest of my body takes exception to that kind of thinking.



Written by johnwhays

July 2, 2021 at 6:00 am

Not Suffering

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Just a little rain up here at the lake yesterday afternoon, but we are living the life of luxury, regardless.

Breakfast on the deck.

But earning it by taking care of that too-long neglected task of tending to the gutters on the backside of the house. Out of sight, out of mind, you know.

After I dug for long enough, I actually found a gutter underneath all that mess.

More family arrived yesterday afternoon and we dined like royalty and stayed up too late playing cards.

It’s another classic summer weekend ‘at the lake.’




Written by johnwhays

August 22, 2020 at 8:15 am

Cloudless Sky

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Yesterday was one of the great ones when it comes to sunny summer days. The neighboring cattle are definitely being grass-fed and made for excellent subjects as I paused to capture some shots of that cloudless sky.

Apparently, some of the grass looked greener on the other side of that fence.



Written by johnwhays

August 19, 2020 at 6:00 am

Just Love

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Certainly, there could be worse things to keep coming back to, but my mind has begun to develop a healthy habit of naturally settling on thoughts about sending and receiving LOVE amid the swirl of good and bad circumstances that wash over us with unrelenting regularity.

We learned last night of an unexpected death among our extended family, all too close to the time of Cyndie’s dad’s passing that has everyone already raw with grief. The increasing infection rate of the coronavirus pandemic is pressing firmly against the frustrations of being locked down for months and disrupting dreams of resuming some previous activity.

Plans for the fall are far from settled as to whether schools will be able to open safely and entertainment venues will figure out a way to host events.

It is almost becoming a physically painful thing to not be able to hug people, on top of the ever-awkward absence of a genuine handshake.

Still, we are showered with ongoing blessings that become more precious with each pause for acknowledgment. The gestures of condolence that have arrived in the last two weeks have warmed our hearts.

Last Sunday, Cyndie and I worked on preparing the brooder for the anticipated arrival of 12 new day-old chicks this month. As hard as the loss of birds is on my tender wife, she couldn’t stop herself from ordering more. New life is coming to Wintervale again!

Summer is in full swing in all its glory around our land, regardless of the recent loss of some big trees. We’re preparing to host travelers we’ve not met before from my virtual community, Brainstorms, in the days ahead. We offered a free parking spot for their small RV on their trek home that is taking them right past our neighborhood on the interstate.

I keep imagining how pleasant it would be if the news media took several days off from mentioning anything a certain person says or does and simply focused on news that matters without any distractions or fabricated drama. I do struggle to muster enough love to offset the disturbance that rolls out of the nation’s capital like the irritation of a lingering dead skunk smell.

The high heat and excessively oppressive tropical dewpoint temperatures are hanging around lately even longer than skunk odors, which is definitely exacerbating the angst of those who lack artificial cooling in their homes.

There is good and bad roiling around in a weird mix. What can we do to cope effectively but love?

Just love.

It sure can’t hurt to try.



— special love goes out to Carlos today for his sorrow and loss —



Written by johnwhays

July 8, 2020 at 6:00 am

Weathering Nicely

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Now that it’s officially summer, a few days ago I got around to removing the firewood rack from our deck that had been in place all winter. Doing so uncovered deck boards that have been protected from direct sunlight and still show the original coloring of the treated wood.

I am much happier with the weathered look of the exposed boards.

We’ve yet to decide what we will do about finishing the wood. I’m hoping to tap the advice of the professional crew we have contracted to seal the log walls of our house. It would be great if they would actually show up.

It’s a company that we’ve used once before, shortly after we moved here. There was an end piece of a log that was rotting and they replaced it and went around the whole house to caulk any spaces that needed it.

Last year they agreed to do the job of resealing the logs of the entire house but were iffy about whether they could fit it in before days got too cold. When it became obvious they wouldn’t make it before winter, they promised we would be early on the spring schedule this year.

When spring (and a certain pandemic) arrived, we contacted them to confirm they were still able to work. Yes, they said, work would begin as soon as days got warm enough.

When warm days arrived and we hadn’t heard from them, we checked again. Yes, we were next in line after their current job. He teased it might be the next week or the week after, depending on the weather.

A week later, granted after some inclement weather, I decided to start removing all the decorative trim from the outside walls in an almost passive-aggressive attempt to will them to suddenly show up.

We will give them one more week before checking anew to find out how many additional weeks remain before they start on our house, seeing as they were going to do it right away in the spring and we were only second in line on their schedule at the start.

At this rate, by the time they get here the logs of the house will be so faded they will match the weathered boards of the deck.

Maybe we should aim for the antique gray color of dried-out neglected wood for our house.

I do like a weathered look.


p.s. Happy Birthday, Elysa! (you are weathering nicely, too!) [Oh, Dad…]



Written by johnwhays

June 22, 2020 at 6:00 am