Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘summer

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.

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

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Written by johnwhays

June 22, 2020 at 6:00 am

Officially Summer

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We have reached the longest day of 2020. It’s the latest hour when we tuck the chickens to bed in the coop for the night. Our fraction of a flock who have survived free-ranging among the wildlife that roams our countryside look a little lonesome snuggled up on one end of the roost.

Nonetheless, they seem happy as ever with their lot in life and explore a broad swath around the barn and their coop, heroically controlling the fly and tick population. Their egg production is enough to keep Cyndie’s and my demand covered. We just have less home-laid eggs to share with others.

Cyndie’s garden(s) are growing by leaps and bounds. With her away for the weekend, I fear the leafy things may be a chaos of excess by the time she returns tonight.

Summer would normally mean I am on a bike trip or we were going up to the lake a lot, but this year is anything but normal. At the same time, life at home is about as normal as can be. The weather has been on an amazingly even keel, perfectly balanced between hot and cool days with a mix of sunny, breezy, reasonable thunderstorms, gentle soaking rain, and calm dry days.

At the solstice, we are in the middle of this summer-ness. We can enjoy more of this for a few weeks and then begin the slow slide to earlier minutes when the hens return to the coop.

I’m willing myself to soak this time up in the fullest sense possible, in hopes of storing the memories as complete as possible for reference during the opposite time period six months from now. For those days when we go close the chicken door to the coop around 4:00 p.m.

Those days when they don’t bother laying any eggs.

Here’s to all these hours of summer sunlight!

Happy Father’s Day all you dads and children of dads! And moms who put up with the dads.

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Written by johnwhays

June 21, 2020 at 9:35 am

Coop Sprucing

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Yesterday, I finally got around to attaching the summer window awnings on the coop. During the winter we install plexiglass panels over the hardware mesh openings, but in the summer it’s wide open to the weather. For a little protection from wind-blown rain, I add some window-well covers.

Last year, one of the plastic covers was bashed full of holes by a hail storm. Luckily, I had a spare.

While I was tending to the coop, I also added some cross-beams to the chicken ramp because Cyndie felt the chickens needed better footing going up and down.

The Buff Orpington that had been inside laying an egg when I first showed up to work, came out to test the ramp after all the drilling and hammering stopped.

Initially, she seemed hesitant about even coming all the way out the door, but eventually scampered down the ramp without delay. I think she likes it.

After Cyndie came in from tucking the hens in and shutting the chicken door later in the evening, I asked her if she noticed the ramp improvements.

“Nope.”

“Well, did you see the window covers?”

“Nope.”

She had been at her parent’s house while I was sprucing up the coop and I hadn’t mentioned anything about it after she got home.

I guess this demonstrates the changes weren’t overly ostentatious, since she didn’t even notice a thing.

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Written by johnwhays

June 19, 2020 at 6:00 am

Just Clinging

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We have arrived at the week with the earliest sunrise in our location and the weather is at its most wonderful summer-est. Our doors and windows are open and the ceiling fans are turning, yet the warmth hovers around the edge of too much. Tank tops and loose shorts, bare feet and a tall glass of ice water put things right.

The cut hay in our fields was raked and round-baled on the same afternoon yesterday. If you look close, Cyndie captured a lone deer crossing the image view as the field became draped in the shadow that was replacing the disappearing sunlight.

For as much as we are forbidden to wrap our arms around our fellow friends and family, we are striving to wrap the summer up in a grandiose hug of epic proportions. Despite the chaos of a political circus, a global pandemic continuing its invisible spread, and citizens bellowing for justice against centuries of systemic racism against indigenous peoples, immigrants, and the entire spectrum of non-white human beings, I am just clinging to the precious moment of a few glorious quintessential summer days for their faint distraction of nature at its finest.

We are doing so without a rambunctious picnic of music and food and a hundred of our favorite people. I am doing so without my annual week of biking and camping somewhere around Minnesota with hundreds of friends and brilliant like-minded adventurers. We are doing so without concerts enjoyed among thousands of similar music-loving fans or sports competitions with hoards of supporters cheering on the efforts of athletes at every level of skill.

There will be no county fairs and ultimately, no Minnesota State Fair. Graduations have already been morphed into sometimes blessedly shorter shadows of the usual pomp and circumstance, and weddings and funerals constrained to unrecognizable whispers of the emotional extravagance they deserve.

Navigating the days that turn to weeks and then months of the COVID-19 pandemic is dragging us all into a marathon of paying heed to the best-practice precautions of constraining the spread to manageable levels despite our preference that it just be a short duration fast-walk competition among friends.

My dentist’s office called and left a message that they are now accepting cleaning and checkup appointments scheduled for the fall. My rather feeble home plaque-scraping exercise since my appointment in March was canceled is now going to need to suffice until autumn. Thank goodness I won’t need to waste a beautiful summer afternoon splayed back in the reclined chair getting my teeth cleaned and inspected.

The best medicine I have right now for the pandemonium of current events is the natural summer surroundings of our little paradise. I love it. We love it.

It helps fuel our ability to nurture and grow that love for beaming out into the great big world.

Here is Wintervale LOVE to all who are willing and able to receive it… <muwah>

Cling to that.

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Written by johnwhays

June 17, 2020 at 6:00 am

Plenty Tall

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When we were on the road to the lake for the Independence Day weekend earlier this summer, we found the farm fields to be shockingly underdeveloped. Many didn’t show any sign that a crop had even been planted. Where corn was visible, it was barely six inches tall.

The classic rhyme of “knee-high by the 4th of July” was far from being met this year.

On the way home from work on Monday, as we approach the middle of August, I suddenly became aware of the dramatic growth finally achieved by local farmers of field corn.

It’s well over a head taller than me.

That picture shows the field immediately to the south of our property.

Having 8-foot walls of corn stalks arise along our rural roads really changes the ambiance of those portions of my commute.

I once read that genetic engineering of corn plants has changed them to be more tolerant of crowding. An acre of land can produce higher yields of corn if you can plant seeds closer together.

The stalks are now planted so tight with one another that I can’t even fit between them.

They’re also so tall that I can’t see over them.

A cornfield would make for a really fine maze, wouldn’t it?

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Written by johnwhays

August 14, 2019 at 6:00 am

Consummately Summerish

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Here is a postcard from the lake. We are having a wonderful time. Wish you were here.

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I probably should have gone to Vegas instead. My luck has been remarkably good with card games the last two days.

Maybe it is a result of being so relaxed from floating in the water and reading a book on the beach. Throw in the smell of wood smoke wafting in the air, grilled meals, corn-on-the-cob, Cyndie’s homemade peach pie, and we are enjoying a quintessential summer weekend at the lake.

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Written by johnwhays

July 28, 2019 at 7:00 am

Yeah, Summer

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Here’s the thing about summer: it’s not a thing. It’s not one thing. It’s a constant transition from spring to fall. You don’t get dandelions and corn on the cob all at the same time. There are cool days that feel totally out of season and oppressively hot and humid days that bookend the cool ones.

Maybe that is why it seems difficult to do summer justice at any given moment. Summer is a whole lot of moments.

Flower blossoms radiate for a limited number of days before they begin to fade in color and lose their shape.

Already, the earlier sunset is noticeable. County fairs produce thoughts of the summer-ending Minnesota State Fair. Plans are being considered for shopping back-to-school sales. We may as well start preparing our Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving menu. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

That’s just about how fast it feels.

Don’t blink.

My bike trip is history. The birthday has come and gone. The fourth of July has passed. How long will the rest of the summer last?

We need to pay attention to something summery every single day for the next two months.

Summer will last just as long as it lasts. I plan to notice it in its entirety.

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Written by johnwhays

July 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

Summertime

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is it possible to know
when we are fully honoring
the best that summer offers
with windows wide open
in short sleeves
and bare feet
fully sun-soaked
amid flowery blossoms
raspberry bushes bending
under the weight of their fruit
smells from the grill
bird songs sailing
on the wind through tree leaves
late hour sunsets
outdoor picnics
echoing laughter
kids out of school
fresh corn on the cob
outfielders chasing fly balls
sunscreen
bug spray
swimming in a lake
napping in a hammock
rumbling thunder
dewdrops of sweat
running down the outside of a glass
long grass
lawn mowers
ice cream trucks
bicycles
skateboards
sidewalk cafes deluxe
festivals of music
folding chairs
beach blankets
campers in tents
splashing in puddles
dancing outdoors on a moonlit night
lightning bugs flashing
hay wagons sagging
sand inside sandals
and this unexpected feeling
everything’s gonna be
alright

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Written by johnwhays

July 11, 2019 at 6:00 am

Spectacularly Pleasant

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We were blessed with a fabulous summer-weather day for our Wildwood Lodge Club annual Fourth of July games. Things started a little slow, with a pickup wiffleball game occupying some of us, while the rest of the folks made their way to the lodge.

The flag was raised to a recorded version of our National Anthem.

Shoes were kicked.

Also, water balloons were tossed (thrown), wet sponges were passed, bodies were spun, and watermelon was handlessly gobbled. Yes, it gets messy.

Greased watermelons were then wrestled toward invisible goal lines.

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Finally, a feast was shared in the lodge.

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After dinner, I played a little guitar around the fire to cap off a spectacular day of events.

The most difficult part of this precious weekend is facing the return to reality that happens today. We drive home this afternoon in a line of holiday traffic to resume our normal weekday duties.

I suppose the plus side of that is, it tends to make days like these all the more special that we get to experience them.

This year will go down as a particularly precious Fourth of July weekend enjoying summer games up at Wildwood with all the families present.

I look forward to dwelling on it for as long as circumstances will allow.

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Written by johnwhays

July 7, 2019 at 8:23 am

Ample Windrows

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Making the first cut of our fields for hay this late in the summer provides a benefit of windrows looking very robust. When we got home from the lake on Sunday, both our hay-field and the back pasture were cut. Yesterday, Jody raked the cuttings into rather buxom windrows.

The result was a gorgeous scene to behold.

This afternoon he will bale. We are going to store a wagon load in our almost filled hay shed and he will take the rest.

If we could rely on him being able to cut our fields every year, we could probably get away with not buying any hay from our other sources.

I don’t know if he would be as motivated to help us if he wasn’t getting some bales out of the deal, so it’s not a guaranteed plan, but it’s an enticing dream to ponder.

Walking our property last night was an immersion in a quintessential country summer evening. The air was thick with a potpourri of aromas from wild plants and cultivated crops approaching their peak. Songbirds, frogs, and crickets provided a steady humming soundtrack for the hours on both sides of the sunset.

With the air calm, there was little else moving to muddy the sound.

The temperature was warm and perfectly humid, well short of feeling uncomfortable. It was the kind of day to burn into our deepest memories, hoping to make it available again for the depths of the cruelest days that winters regularly dish out.

Locally grown sweet corn is starting to show up and the watermelon is once again flavorful. County fairs are in full swing.

With a seeming emphasis, yet an inviting ease, it smells, tastes, and sounds like we are smack dab in the thickest part of summer.

Might as well throw some more bales of hay.

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Written by johnwhays

July 24, 2018 at 6:00 am