Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘tree leaves

Underground Conversations

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After listening to a Radiolab podcast Cyndie turned on while we were eating breakfast (From Tree to Shining Tree) about the complex web of fungi and tree roots underground, I decided to head out for a bike ride yesterday. I chose a route that retraced the last leg of the great 60-mile ride from Minneapolis to Beldenville that my friend, Paul Keiski and I planned in recognition of our 60th birthdays.

That last section always haunts me for the wrong turn I made that moved our 60-mile ride closer to a 70-mile one. I have a history of confusing my orientation and choosing turns that are 180° in the wrong direction. The right turn I made on that fateful day almost four years ago makes absolutely no sense. It was really hot and I was very fatigued but that turn should have been entirely obvious.

Every time I have ridden those roads since that day, I take great pleasure in making the correct turn without a moment of hesitation. Yesterday, I rode 32 miles of country roads past farms with freshly mowed grass, an occasional horse, and a lot of lounging cows. I spotted multiple patches of flowering trillium and a lot of trees with newly sprouted leaves.

There is so much happening in the plant world right now, I began to wonder about how many underground conversations must be occurring throughout the incredible network of roots and fungi in the dirt. How much energy must be traveling up all the countless number of tree branches during this phase when buds open and leaves emerge?

Our forests are starting to look like forests again.

Seeing all the leaves pop out tells me the network of underground communication must be functioning well in our woods. I’m particularly thrilled that the maple tree we transplanted to the center of the labyrinth (after our first three attempts failed) appears to have made the necessary underground connections to thrive.

I can’t imagine what those conversations must have been like. We plopped that tree into the ground in a location that isolated it from any other existing trees. At least, that’s the way it looked from above ground. Down in the dirt, I’m guessing there were more tentacles of growing roots and fungi than one might expect. Thank goodness for that if that’s what it took for this one to survive the trauma of being moved.

Thinking about this makes me want to take as much care to nurture our forest floor as I direct toward the trees above.



Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2023 at 6:00 am

Color Gradient

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It caught my eye right away as I passed by and after a few steps beyond I realized I needed to stop and go back.

Look at the color gradient happening here.

Nature putting on a show, plain and simple.

These spectacles are dwindling. There is now a lot more brown on the ground than colors on the branches, which makes these little surprises all the more special.

Our days of summery October are numbered I’m afraid. Near-term forecasts suggest high temperatures in the 50s(F) and lows below freezing.

In preparation, yesterday we flushed the water out of the buried line to the labyrinth and rolled up the last of our long garden hoses. Getting that chore done while still being able to wear a T-shirt outdoors in October is a rarity.

It’s so odd to know the warmth is ominous for the planet while it is also making it more comfortable to work outside this October.



Written by johnwhays

October 20, 2021 at 6:00 am

Maximum Transition

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Wintervale is currently undergoing the full range of extremes in the transition from green tree leaves to none at all.

Very few of our trees seem to reach peak color on every branch at the same time. The majority become a mosaic of the original green that seems to resist the inevitable, the ultimate brilliance of autumn color, and the shriveling past-peak remnants bound to fall to the ground within hours.

The tree in the above image was sporting the most vivid reds two days ago. Yesterday, I noticed some of them just kept getting a deeper and deeper red until becoming almost black. Most of those have now fallen to the pavement below. Yet, there is still a limb or two with completely green leaves.

We experienced a couple of heavy rain showers yesterday, which surely contributed to bringing down batches of leaves en masse.

We are socked in with low cloud cover this morning which effectively dulls every view, but despite the few trees that have dropped many leaves in the last 24 hours, it still looks pretty special. I captured a long view yesterday before all the blue sky and sunshine completely disappeared.

The horses are growing their winter coats and the extended warmth and humidity we are experiencing had them sweating. The swing away from that to this morning’s cooler, wetter, and cloudier conditions provide a welcome change.

The season of bare tree branches is nigh.



Written by johnwhays

October 3, 2021 at 10:16 am

Hearty Impression

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What might the message be from this tree with an old wound that it is growing around in the shape of a heart?

I don’t know, but I’d like to think it is something heartwarming.

When we were cleaning out the landscaping around the back side of the house over the weekend, I discovered that a tie holding a maple sapling to a support stake was too tight and had begun constricting the tree’s growth. What a sorry sight to stumble upon; an occasion where my efforts to help a tree had ended up hurting it.

Trees seem to grow slowly, in general, but at the same time, there is a dramatic amount of activity happening in relatively short time spans. I think the trunk of that sapling has doubled in size since it was tied. I would have liked to see a time-lapse of that progress.

Just a week ago we were digging out from beneath a huge snow storm, and yesterday, on my drive home from work, I could already see the tops of tree clusters developing a green tinge from sprouting new buds. It warms my heart to know the leaves will soon be making an appearance.

Ever wonder how many leaves grow on the branches of mature trees? There are a lot of variables, but an oft-repeated average seen in the results of a Google search is around 200,000. That number makes my heart flutter like the quaking leaves of our poplar trees.

At the extension class we took last month to learn tricks of identifying trees, (did I already write about this?) we found out the thing that makes some leaves oscillate in the wind is the square shape of the leaf stem. It isn’t round, it has four flat sides.

Fun facts for people who love trees. Hopefully, that includes everyone. How could anyone with a heart, not love a tree?



Written by johnwhays

April 24, 2018 at 6:00 am