Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘trees

Core Four

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Well, I’m glad that’s finally over. We got all that crazy birthday celebrating out of the way for Cyndie yesterday with a dinner out for the core four –us and our two adult children. That takes care of that for another year.

Oh, have you met Cyndie’s family of origin? Last night was far from the end of birthday festivities for her. There still remains almost a week of planned events, including family coming in from out-of-town, more dinners out, music and dinner at the Dakota downtown, a dinner in, and who knows what else they have yet to reveal.

Yesterday, Cyndie treated herself to a spa/massage session in the morning and topped off her day with the core four dinner at the very trendy “Young Joni” restaurant in North Minneapolis. It was too popular to get an open reservation, so we settled on sitting at the bar to eat.

I would say the popularity is deserved. We had an excellent experience.

After we got home, we learned the restaurant was a product of our friend Mike Wilkus’ architectural firm. No wonder it felt so comfortable to us.

While walking Delilah when I got home, I remembered to tend to a tree that caught my attention when touring the property on Sunday with the DNR Forester.

Don’t be this guy: Five years ago we had a wicked spring snowstorm that dropped 18 inches of snow on the 2nd/3rd of May. Many trees were damaged. To save one pine, I tied a rope to secure it to another tree to keep it from tipping all the way over. Then I forgot about. For five years.

In an attempt to save the tree, I girdled it by neglecting to check and adjust the support.

Oops.

Never mind.

That’s not what I meant to do.

At least the birds appear to be getting something out of the tree, but I guarantee you, they are not getting anything close to the fine cuisine the four of us enjoyed for Cyndie’s birthday dinner last night.

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Written by johnwhays

June 5, 2018 at 6:00 am

New Information

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Sixty years ago today, before I was even born, the best thing that could ever happen for me took place. With eternal gratitude to Fred and Marie Friswold, today, June 4th, I boast to the world that it is Cyndie’s birthday!

Happy Birthday, my love!

After a jam-packed weekend of social events and more, we begin this week with new information and new energy.

First, after a scheduled appointment for our vet to visit and give the horses their spring shots, we came up with a plan for how we will proceed into the summer grazing season. Both Cayenne and Hunter are showing signs of good health with their sensitive laminitic front hooves. The diet of reduced portions has their weight under control, and more importantly, it has been achieved with minimal evidence of angst from the horses.

Going forward, we are going to work on getting them used to wearing muzzles to slow down their pasture grazing. We will then feed them dry hay in the morning to fill them up and give them muzzled access to a previously mowed (shorter grass = smaller bites of cake) pasture in the afternoons. They will be confined to the dry paddocks overnight, with no added hay available until the next morning.

Most important for us will be the attitude the horses have about their situation. If they are okay with it, that will be the definition of acceptability. If they balk over any of it, we will work to adjust accordingly. Our goal is to keep their weight down, yet give them some time to enjoy the freedom to move about in the open pasture and “graze” as close to normal as possible.

The next big thing that we learned came as a result of a visit from our local DNR Forester yesterday. My key takeaway from that consultation was the value of cutting trees beneath the canopy of mature trees we favor. Growth that reaches up to encroach on the lower branches of the favored tree should be removed.

He asserted that the primary focus is on providing the most sunlight to encourage growth, but protecting lower branches from competition will also help keep the mature trees healthy.

My first inclination is never to cut down any tree, but our Forester convinced me that cutting some will enhance others. I need to get more comfortable pruning entire trees, in the way I am comfortable pruning a few branches to shape a single tree.

He suggested clear cutting some areas, like stands of aspen, to open up sunlight and entice energized bursts of new growth to expand the grove. It seems so counter-intuitive. I want more trees, not less. Apparently, a little loss now, produces bigger gains later. In his mind, it doesn’t take that long.

Time is a relative thing. I’m not feeling that patient.

I was surprised to learn that he felt our highest priority should be to work on removing invasive garlic mustard. I did a quick Google search and the response was rich with states battling the troublesome intruder. Our Forester said we should pull the plants, bag them in plastic garbage bags and throw them in the trash.

Among the many other battles we are already waging, like vines, common buckthorn, and poison ivy, we now will move garlic mustard to the top priority.

Oh, joy.

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Spontaneous Transplantation

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Last night presented one of those moments that would unfold without us having a clue where it would ultimately lead. Thankfully, due to Cyndie’s willingness to run with it, we took a step that was long overdue.

She transplanted some volunteer sprouts of oak and maple trees.

It started with her walking the dog and me doing some work in the shop. I had the door open and some music playing. Suddenly, Delilah popped in to say hello. Cyndie paused to trim some growth around the vicinity.

While pulling weeds, she discovered the saturated ground made it easy to pull out the new tree sprouts.

We’ve been talking about transplanting trees for weeks, but never really formulated a plan on where they would go when we finally take action. Since she now had a stack of multiple beauties fresh out of the ground, it presented an urgency to decide on a new location for them.

I honestly have no idea why I didn’t come up with this before, but it hit me in an instant that planting them just outside the paddock fence would someday offer a natural shade for the horses inside the fence.

So, that’s what Cyndie did.

It will require some care to give these babies a fair chance at survival, but given the vast number of new sprouts showing up every spring, we will always have plenty of opportunities to try again, in case of any failures.

This is another thing that I would love to have done years ago, to have already taken advantage of that time for growth. The shade I’m looking forward to could be a decade away, to get the trees tall enough and filled out enough to cast a useful shadow.

It’s like our story about growing our own asparagus. People told us that it takes at least three years after planting to start harvesting stalks. For some silly reason, that information repeatedly caused us to not take action. Inexplicably, our response to something that required waiting a significant amount of time for results was to do nothing. Over and over again.

After three years, I mentioned that if we had just planted some when we first talked about the possibility, we could be harvesting already.

Then Cyndie came across the brilliant idea of not planting from seed, but buying a 2-year-old plant and burying it in the ground.

We are learning to get out of our own way.

In this regard, the spontaneity becomes our secret weapon. We will always get more progress if we just do it, and not wait for the “perfect” plan. We need to not worry so much about the possibility of failure.

My old mode of thinking involved not wanting to work hard on planting trees if they are just going to die, but I’m getting over that now. Maybe the four tries to succeed in the center of our labyrinth have softened my resistance.

We transplanted this group yesterday without any planning or preparation.

I have no idea what the result will be, but at least we have taken the required first step, thanks to Cyndie’s adventurous spontaneous effort.

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Forest View

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I’m no expert, but I’m willing to venture a guess that a tree that sprouts leaves in the spring, but can’t get them to grow any larger than the tip of a finger, is going through the slow process of dying.

I’ve been watching this tree out our bathroom window for several weeks. It is particularly noticeable because all the rest of the trees around it opened up gorgeous full-sized leaves on their branches.

That standout stalled at the earliest stage of sprouting leaves.

I’m now doubting its likelihood of catching up.

Looking out that window yesterday, it occurred to me how many months of the year that view opens deep into the wooded slope, looking across a carpet of brown fallen leaves covering the ground.

That spot is a favorite for rambunctious squirrels that put on Ninja Warrior obstacle course demonstrations, bringing Delilah to an uncontrollable outburst of window-screen destruction and flurries of loud barking in the front porch.

This time of year, that section of forest becomes an enchanting mystery. I love the darkness that develops under the canopy of shady leafed-out trees. When the sun is really bright, it makes that darkness even more intense.

Last year, in August, I posted about the Inviting Portals that beckon a visit into the benefits of breathing the forest air. I find those darkened openings irresistibly captivating.

I’m convinced that I receive equally beneficial psychological rewards simply from absorbing the glorious views of the walls of trees that tower along the edges of our forest and fields.

It’s never clear what the change from bare trees to leafy ones will bring. Branches along the trail that were overhead all winter will often surprise me with how much they droop under the added weight of leaves come spring.

After a brief, yet energized thunderstorm yesterday afternoon, some of the young trees around the house failed to hold their posture under the added weight of wetted leaves.

So, we’ve got trees with not enough leaves and trees with more leaves than they can support, but they are each an exception. The rest of the forest is as picturesque as ever now, providing views that invite and inspire.

Forest views that feed my soul tremendously.

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Written by johnwhays

May 30, 2018 at 6:00 am

Alluring

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

May 29, 2018 at 6:00 am

Tall Trees

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Since it hurt too much to lift my left leg enough to do any pedaling, and it was hot as a baker’s oven outside in the sun, Delilah and I spent most of our walks yesterday in the woods. With all the leaves back in force, it feels a lot more like what I think “forest bathing” is all about.

We were breathing it in to the fullest.

At one point, I paused to marvel over some of our tall trees.

That one on the right has a lot of character. It is one of my favorites on our land.

Other than the wonderful walks in our woods, this long Memorial holiday weekend has been a bit of a bust for me.

I had hoped to put on some extended mileage in the bike saddle, especially because I was home alone. Instead, I spent a lot of time power lounging.

I didn’t even get around to mowing tall grass with the brush cutter behind the diesel tractor because the heat scared me off.

It’s growing tall enough that it looks like July out there already. With a head start like this, I’m very curious what the un-mowed areas will look like in a couple of months.

As always, it will come down to how much, and how often, rain falls.

For the time being, after that 4-plus inch deluge last week, it appears as though we are right where we want to be. The tall trees, and every other growing plant it seems, are all looking happy as ever.

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Written by johnwhays

May 28, 2018 at 6:00 am

Green Everywhere

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For the first time since last October, we can’t see the chicken coop from the driveway. The green of innumerable leaves has returned in a blink.

Complimenting all the green exploding in every direction was the blue sky. Just the kind of weather that would be perfect for an inaugural bike ride of the season, when a person has failed to take advantage of any previous chances.

That meant I needed to hustle home from work, and focus exclusively on cleaning and re-assembling my bike. That is to say, no more disassembly allowed. Unlike my usual self, I somehow made short work of getting the trusty two-wheeler back into riding shape.

After a break for a quick dinner, I decided to see how it rode. I mentioned out loud that I wouldn’t have my bike computer because the battery was dead, and Cyndie reminded me I could use my phone.

It had been so long since using the “Map My Ride” app, I needed to reset my password to get logged in, but once that was done, I was ready to ride.

I like a quiet bike, and I’m proud to say that my bike didn’t utter a single annoying mechanical peep. The problem with quiet bike though, is anything else making unwelcome noises becomes that much more noticeable.

I’m pretty sure it was my shoes. I have a cleat mounted in my shoes that snaps into my pedals. The longer I rode, the more I became aware of what sounded like a squeaky chair as I muscled my way up hills.

Those cleats will get a serious snugging before my next ride.

I made it home just as the sun was dropping below the horizon. By that hour of the day, the low spots on the road take on a dramatic chill compared to the rest of the air. I paused on top of the first high spot of our driveway and checked the app.

Eight miles in 36 minutes, including several fair-sized hills. Minimal traffic and only a couple of farm tractors to pass. Startled someone’s horse napping in a pasture and got stared at by a lot of cows.

That’ll do just fine for a starter.

Now if I could just do that every day for a month, maybe I would be in reasonable shape at the start of the Tour of Minnesota.

The first day mileage will be 80 miles, so I’d rather not show up under-prepared for that.

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Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2018 at 6:00 am