Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘trees

My Being

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I stood alone
among the trees on the hill
just outside the house
in the cold
for a moment
to look and listen
the great outdoors never disappoints
there is no fight for recognition
things just are
smoky wafts of breath rise with every exhale
resounding quiet slowly begins to yield tiny sounds
a titmouse
finch or sparrow
pecking the skin
of a nearby tree
a squirrel
moves in fits and starts
along a route
obviously used many times before
a breeze
rolls a crispy brown leaf
across the top crust of old snow
my being here
on a winter Sunday
has little influence on these woods
yet the land
the trees
and breeze
imbue a universe of energies
that inspire
my being




Written by johnwhays

December 30, 2018 at 8:15 am

Cyndie’s Shots

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Cyndie has always been incredibly generous about allowing me to post photos she has taken. Lest there ever be doubt, I add her name to the bottom right corner of images of hers that I use.

On my way home from work yesterday, I received a series of images texted from Cyndie that reflect scenes she had captured during the day.

“Why, yes, I’d love to use them!”

First off, this fascinating shot reveals that a couple of deer decided to lay down in the middle of a trail, for a long enough time that they melted the snow all the way down to the ground.


That’s a first. With all the excellent cover available, these two chose a large clearing for their naps. Must be feeling plenty safe on our property.

Notice what a difference a few days makes with regard to the snow sticking to the trees. Scroll down a couple of posts and compare this shot with the two I posted a couple of days ago.

There is still plenty of snow out in the fields. Cyndie framed up this gorgeous view of snow drifting around a culvert.

Delilah looks so stoic as an accent to the shadow and shapes below her. I love the perspective of different elevation this provides.

Finally, there is this beautiful sunset.

If you can make out the chicken coop in the distance, the low sun is shining through it such that it looks likeĀ a light is on in there.

It’s fair to say that Cyndie has probably contributed more pictures to this blog in the last year than I have.

For that, I am extremely grateful. Thank you, C!



Written by johnwhays

December 7, 2018 at 7:00 am

Two Trails

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Did I mention how beautiful the weekend sticky snowfall was? See for yourself.

Which trail would you choose?

Heading south?

Or heading north?

I love the extremity of contrast between scenes like these, compared to how these woods look in the summer.

We aren’t teasing when we brag about doing all four seasons of the year around these parts.



Written by johnwhays

December 5, 2018 at 7:00 am

Two Perspectives

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This weekend’s snowfall was certainly a pretty one. There was an interesting combination of stickiness and blowing. The tops of the trees didn’t hold the snow, but the lower trunks and branches sure did.

If you’ve watched my photographic tendencies for a few years, you are probably familiar with my penchant for close, full-frame images, as well as my pattern of including one feature for accent.

Especially, leaves.

This little specimen was irresistible for the fabulous character of the fancy edges.

That wonderful leaf caught my attention because of the way it blew across the top of the snow and then just settled down in this spot, as if it was waiting for me to take the picture.

Thankfully, it stayed around long enough for me to capture it from a second perspective, which brings those fancy edges to life with added dimension.

I don’t think these two should ever be displayed one without the other. Two wonderful perspectives on one fancy leaf.



Written by johnwhays

December 3, 2018 at 7:00 am

Red Marks

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For months now we have been walking past trees in our woods that are marked for removal with a red spot. It was more subtle when the forest was lush and green. Now that there aren’t any leaves on the trees, those red marks are impossible to miss.

When our local DNR agent responded to our invitation to walk our woods, we learned our most valuable trees are the oaks, and that they will be kept healthiest if we remove competition growing directly beneath their canopy. I mentioned it would be a challenge for me to identify what is good and what is bad.

You know how much of an aversion I have to cutting down live trees.

He was quick to volunteer to return later and mark trees for removal. Most of them are relatively small diameter and will be easy to bring down. Cyndie and I decided yesterday was a good time to start on the project.

Heck, I can’t drive the tractor anywhere yet, so we may as well create piles of branches to be chipped at a later date.

About those red marks… When you get a chainsaw in your hands, suddenly trees with red dots show up at every turn. Maybe that is because I just chose to start with the trees right below the driveway. Some of our biggest oaks are right there (hence the thick carpet of leaves that land on the yard) and that meant a lot of trees to be culled all the way around each of the large oak trunks.

I took some solace in being able to see visible evidence of just the problem our DNR forester described. Oak trees stop feeding lower limbs when other growth begins to encroach from below. That can lead to a lopsided or top-heavy oak.

When we pulled down the smaller trees, it was easy to see the number of bottom oak branches that had already been left for dead.

Unfortunately, we grew weary after just a couple of hours of cutting up and piling branches of the easiest trees felled. Several substantial sized red-marked trees remain. That will be a project for another day.

I may just move on further into the woods where I know there are a lot of small (easy) red-marked trees, before returning to take down the larger diameter encroachers by the driveway.

That project will be delayed a little bit now, though, as the more immediate pressing need is for plowing and shoveling snow. We received a decent amount of sticky flakes yesterday afternoon and overnight.

So much for easily spotting those red marked trees…



Real Tree

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It’s been more years than I can count since we have put up a real tree in the house when decorating for Christmas. I have a thing about cutting down trees, you know, even if it was grown specifically for that purpose. By buying our artificial tree so many years ago, I was making a statement that I no longer wanted to support the Christmas tree growing industry.

Here’s a classic example of how people change with time. When I was young, I felt Christmas trees made of plastic represented everything that was wrong with society. After a few years of seeing house after house with dead trees at the curb near the end of December, I began to have pangs of remorse over the demise of so many trees for a few weeks of holiday decoration.

Then I spotted the impressive advancements in fake trees. At the point it became difficult to tell the difference at a distance, my attitude changed and we stopped buying real trees.

This year, we will be giving our plastic tree a break.

Yesterday, Cyndie asked if we could trim some branches to bring in boughs of pine for decorating around the house. While seeking out possibilities, I spotted a spruce tree that was seriously encroaching on a new oak tree that has established itself nicely, just outside our bedroom window.

We decided to cut it down and bring it inside for this year’s Christmas tree.









Now you see it, now you don’t. Or, if you consider it from a focus on the young oak tree, at first you don’t see it, and then you do!

Having a real tree indoors again reminds me of one of the significant advantages of the plastic replica we have used for the last umpteen years. No mess.

Just one day inside and already there is a surprising number of needles covering the floor beneath this real tree.

Well, at least we have a back up. If the real tree loses all its needles too soon, we can always bring out the old plastic one.

The fake tree has lasted long enough that we have more than gotten our money’s worth of use out of it.

At least this real tree didn’t cost us any cash. In fact, cutting it down will greatly benefit the oak tree we value even more.

It’s a win-win!

Bring on the Christmas extravaganza! Cyndie has leapt into preparations with gusto this year, and with only four weeks to spare.



Written by johnwhays

November 25, 2018 at 10:31 am

So Close

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For once, I saw it with my own eyes. I was up at the house when I heard a commotion down in the trees toward the chicken coop. Chickens squawking, wings flapping, and a large bald eagle swooping through and flying away. I wasn’t able to tell if it had anything in its grasp.

By the time Delilah and I made it down to check on the chickens, they were all happily pecking away at the grass beside the paddock, …except for one.

A Black Australorp was missing. I thought it was possible she was in a nesting box, but upon opening the access door and finding it empty, my heart sank.

The rest of the hens came over in search of a treat. They were such a tight bunch, it seemed highly unlikely the missing bird was off by herself if she wasn’t in the coop laying an egg.

I made the walk to the barn in woe over the loss. Dang eagle. Funny how we have always been thrilled to see the majestic bald eagle in our midst, but since one has now threatened the lives of our creatures, it takes on a different meaning.

When I opened the door from inside the barn to go out under the overhang and clean up after the horses, my woe turned to elation. That highly unlikely scenario of a lone hen mulling about so far from the rest of the brood had occurred. She was cutely cooing away all by herself in the sand under the barn roof.

It made me wonder if she even knew about the close call that had occurred out in the trees just a short time earlier. I had expected those trees would provide cover to protect the chickens from predators, but obviously, most of that protection disappears along with the leaves.

When we decided to get chickens, it didn’t occur to me that doing so would attract eagles.

I wonder if it will be back to try again. Having spotted the eagle perched across the field earlier in the week, something tells me, yes, it probably will make additional attempts.

After seeing yesterday’s close call, I’m thinking I’d rather not be around when it happens again.

For now, we’ve still got nine hens. I guess we better keep our eagle eyes on them if we want that number to remain.



Written by johnwhays

November 9, 2018 at 7:00 am