Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘sunshine

Weather Gift

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What a gift of a day we enjoyed yesterday. Under a late February blue sky, the temperature climbed to a spring-like warmth that allowed coat-less frolicking in the great outdoors. And frolic, we did.

I let Delilah lead a romp through our woods following any animal trails she chose. She was not discerning in the least about the tangled routes she pursued, leaving me to duck and weave my way through a maze of branches which she navigated with ease. It was the depth of snow among the trees after leaving the trails that complicated her progress.

It could be that she got enough of a workout from the deep snow to appreciate the number of times I asked her to pause and wait while I took some pictures. There were fabulous shadows on display that I found particularly captivating, despite my being unable to successfully record most of them.

Most of the time, because of the angle of the brilliant sunshine, positioning myself for a photo of the interesting shadows obscured the scenes with the appearance of my own shadow.

At one point, just as I pressed the button on the camera, Delilah moved her position such that the shadow from her leash appeared right across my shot.

This shadow-print of the rachets on the fence wires came out pretty true to what my eyes saw.

It was an exceptional treat to have such warmth so soon after days of biting below-zero cold. It’s not even March yet and weather like yesterday has given me a strong dose of spring fever.

Hopefully, I won’t regret starting with that thought so early this year.



Written by johnwhays

February 24, 2020 at 7:00 am

Weekend Recharge

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I chose not to do battle with the elements over the weekend and spent most of my time inside where it was warm and dry. Our region received three very similar days of intermittent mixed precipitation, chilly temperatures, and strong gusts of wind.

Even though much of what fell came down as snow, the most that ever collected was a thin frosting on some leaves. It didn’t last very long.

My biggest accomplishment for the last three days was practicing a massive dose of rest and relaxation. I didn’t do any intentional meditation, but I came close to achieving a vegetative state several times. The fine art of doing nothing, if you choose to perceive something along the lines of charging a battery as nothing.

I recharged my battery.

For much of the time, I had a companion in Delilah, who has an upper respiratory ailment and laid low recuperating her health. After two days of meds from the vet, she perked up noticeably yesterday. Her joyful energy was comical for the amped-up intensity. It was as if she was trying to make up for being so droopy the previous two days.

By the end of the day, the clouds were breaking up and exposing splashes of sunshine, which always does wonders for energizing man and beast.

It has me feeling ready this morning for the week ahead.

Happy Monday!




Written by johnwhays

October 14, 2019 at 6:00 am

Downright Summery

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Warm, sunny days have been few and far between this spring, which makes yesterday special, relative to the competition. It was almost hot, at times, and there was enough sunshine to get burned, which I did a little bit, after sitting on the deck with our visiting friends, Jeff and Renee. We celebrated Jeff’s birthday with some berries over Cyndie’s homemade pound cake slices, and a lesson in the cribbage board-game, “CrossCrib®.”

Out of respect for those who were on the wrong end of an overwhelming scoring feat of 31-0, I’ll let the losers remain anonymous, but Jeff got a sweet birthday present in the win and I enjoyed the perk of being his partner.

Seeing our guests roll down the driveway on their motorcycles was inspiration for Cyndie to pull her convertible out for a thorough polishing, while I assembled and installed the pump and filter in our landscape pond.

I found Cyndie very agreeable when I suggested we celebrate my waterfall accomplishment with a convertible ride to the nearest Dairy Queen for a treat.

The buds on trees are hinting that leaves aren’t far off now, and we drove past several lawns being mowed for the first time, marking visible milestones in this year’s hesitant transition out of winter. Walking Delilah across the hill of our back yard, I quickly discovered our grass is definitely in need of a trim, too.

After a melty ice cream treat, Cyndie got us home just in time to turn on the 145th Kentucky Derby horse race and see a historic ending. In a first for the Derby, the first horse to cross the line in the muddy slop was not the official winner.

After race stewards reviewed the running, they disqualified Maximum Security for interference, bestowing the victory on 65-1 long shot runner-up, Country House.

The first leg of the Triple Crown is in the books. Can summer be far behind?



Written by johnwhays

May 5, 2019 at 8:40 am


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Words on Images



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March 4, 2019 at 7:00 am

Good Friends

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While clearing snow off the deck to allow full access to the grill and make a path to the wood shed, I spied our sunflower over the railing. It obviously looked a little worse for the wear, but seeing it triggered welcome memories of summer.

We needed more wood because our weekend plan involved hanging out with friends around the fire. It was even foretold in a fortune that appeared in a cookie Cyndie and I split.

Why, yes, we will! And we were! George and Anneliese came yesterday to spend the night. Cyndie cooked up a meal of grilled pork chops with pineapple that seemed to echo summertime more than it did the depth of winter we are currently enduring.

Yesterday’s fresh five-inches of sugary powder snow fell with heavy intensity for most of the afternoon. Today dawned a picture postcard perfect snowy landscape.

Last night, we mostly ignored the snow and celebrated joyful memories of the months George and Anneliese lived in our basement. The boys pulled off a come-from-behind victory in CrossCrib and Anneliese won the nightcap card game of Bikini, like she always seems to do.

At a time when Cyndie and I are contemplating significant changes to life here, it was extra special to have a chance to relive some of the precious times we have enjoyed along the way.

Good friends are an essential part of most of our best memories, aren’t they?




Written by johnwhays

March 2, 2019 at 10:05 am

Early Light

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While the intense winter storm that moved out of Texas is pummeling the Carolinas and Virginia this morning, our region is bathed in calm. The air was so quiet this morning, I felt compelled to open the gate in the paddock by delicately palming the chains to avoid the usual clatter of metal on metal, while I was whispering greetings of love to the horses.

It was a perfectly brisk winter morning, but not biting cold. The chickens put in extra energy to balance on one foot, picking up the other and tucking it in their feathers to protect from the frozen tundra. The horses had frost on their whiskers, but otherwise look completely acclimated to the season of long nights.

They are contentedly munching on morning rations in that image, while the first rays of sunshine begin to paint their sides with a promise of warmth to come.

Hello, sun!

Our day will be filled with holiday projects, Cyndie in the kitchen, baking so many varieties of Christmas cookies it makes me dizzy with visions of sugar. I will be in the shop, putting sandpaper to wood, between making appearances in the house to be sociable with our kids and other family and friends who have expressed intention of showing up to be present for the great holiday bake-athon.

Every cookie I can convince them to take home with them will be one less for me to avoid.

The fire is radiating in the fireplace and the colored lights are on the tree.

Bring on the day!


Written by johnwhays

December 9, 2018 at 10:41 am

Another Staycation

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We were able to getaway in town this weekend, leaving Jackie to take care of animals at home. Cyndie and I went off to spend a couple of nights at her parents’ house in Edina. Fred and Marie were headed for a cruise in Germany with friends of theirs, and we provided transportation to the airport yesterday.

Before that, we snuck out for a convertible cruise through our old Eden Prairie stomping grounds. The fabulous September sunshine provided ideal conditions. We stopped by a park to visit folks gathered for an EP fundraising event and enjoyed live music performed by Wondercure, some life-long friends.

After leaving the airport, we headed past an even older neighborhood of ours in south Minneapolis to hook up with more EP friends. We strolled with Paul and Beth along the Linden Hills streets for dinner near Lake Harriet.

Back at their house, we were treated with other-worldly dessert creations from a nearby bakery.

It all feels so cosmopolitan!

How did we come to deserve such richness of life, friends, and food.

It is not lost on me how much the remarkable warm September sunshine and blue skies contribute to making a day seem so positively regal.

Our experiences would have been much different had it been cool, gray, and wet.

I’m just sayin’.





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September 9, 2018 at 9:35 am

Wednesday’s Sun

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It was warm yesterday, but cloudy. Nothing like Wednesday’s sun.




Written by johnwhays

February 16, 2018 at 7:00 am

Sub-zero Sun

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One thing about really cold winter days, they tend to be very bright with sunshine. As I mentioned yesterday, the wind kept most of our deck clear of accumulation, even though I bet we received around 2 to 3 inches.

Since the precipitation started as a foggy drizzle before the temperature dropped back below freezing, surfaces received an icy glaze for a base coat.

When conditions changed to wind-blown snow, instead of accumulating on the deck, it acted as more of a polishing agent.

I failed at making an indoor nap the primary accomplishment of my day yesterday. There was a mess of snow that drifted on our front walkway which needed to be cleared, so I used that as an excuse to force myself up and out into the Arctic air. One thing led to another and I kept working my way along the driveway in front of the garage doors.

At that point, I couldn’t stop myself from getting out the Grizzly and plowing the full length of the driveway.

In the grand scheme of winter plowing, it wasn’t my best effort, but it will do for now. The surface is a frozen mess of layers from the changing conditions of the last month or two. We’ve packed down countless minor dustings by driving over it until it becomes a solid slippery coating, after which a warm spell turned some of it to pure ice and other areas to a slushy series of tire tracks.

The subsequent plunge in temperature has locked all of this up tight and then firmly filled in the crevices with wind-blown snow.

The plow blade basically bounced around and over the frozen pathway, as opposed to cleaning it down to the asphalt.

We’ve got plenty of sub-zero sun shining down, but it isn’t going to improve the surface of our driveway any. That will require the next wave of warm Pacific air when the jet stream shifts again, which forecasts hint could be just a week away.

There’s never a dull moment in our Wintervale weather adventure land lottery.



Written by johnwhays

January 13, 2018 at 10:28 am

January Thaw

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I have lived near the Twin Cities for most of my life, but I never realized how consistently we experience a January thaw. From Meteorologist, Paul Huttner’s Updraft blog:

“A January thaw is defined as two or more consecutive days of high temperatures above 32 degrees. That happens in 93 percent of all years on record for the Twin Cities. In fact, a January thaw is more reliable than a white Christmas (72 percent) in the Twin Cities.”

Everyone at Wintervale is enjoying this little break from the ravages of the deep cold that has besieged us for the last few weeks.

The sunshine and warm Pacific breeze was just right for an afternoon sun bath.

The chickens are much quicker to come out of the coop with the warmer temperatures. The Buff Orpington spent a fair amount of time breaking up frozen sand so her bath could be a mixture of sun and soil.

When I noticed her kicking up a dust cloud storm and wallowing luxuriously in it, I pulled out my camera to record video of the spectacle.

I got two seconds of fluttering and a minute and a half of her sitting mostly still, occasionally pecking at the frozen sand. She was not interested in being the star of my movie.

The scene of Dezirea nodding off in the sun, with her tail flowing gracefully in the gentle breeze turned out to be the more rewarding video, even though it has about the same amount of action as the shot of the hen.

Legacy interrupted my video of Dezirea when he stepped forward to poke his head into the bright sunshine and blocked my view.

We have been trying to absorb this early January thaw for all it is worth, given the impending swing back to serious winter weather being forecast. Tomorrow could become a day of our greatest snow accumulation this season, and the thermometer is expected to sink back to sub-zero overnight temperatures.

Hello, again, winter.

It’s getting hard maintaining a charade of still being on a tropical vacation by simply revisiting our photo albums.

But that doesn’t prevent us from putting forth an effort.



Written by johnwhays

January 10, 2018 at 7:00 am