Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘trees

Beautiful Views

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Despite human industrial activity dumping carbon into the earth’s atmosphere for generations, grass and trees continue to jam carbon back into the soil. Imagine if we had enough forests and fields to reverse the changes our burning of fossil fuels has done to the atmosphere.

Thinking like that is more fun when gazing upon the beautiful views we enjoy than trying to wrap my head around the continuing damage that is being done every day, like driving my car for two hours a day during my 4-day workweek. Working from home on Fridays is a small token toward driving less.

We watched the NOVA episode, “Can We Cool the Planet?” on PBS last night. Seems reasonable to believe that we can cool the planet. The difficulty is whether or not humans will actually undertake the needed steps.

It certainly doesn’t hurt for individuals to strive to do their part, but the solution will require a collective global commitment. Based on the history of the human race, it is hard to picture how such a thing would even be possible.

Maybe an existential threat will be the difference that one day drives a coordinated response.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to plant trees and enjoy our lovely views.

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Planting Acorns

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When all around you the world appears to be unraveling in every direction, try planting a tree.

In our case, we’ve decided to take a crack at planting many. Last week we buried over a hundred acorns in a line outside the fence of the paddocks.

Since nature does such an amazing job of producing oak sprouts everywhere on our property, we decided to see if we could organize some of them to pop up right where we’d like to have them growing for the shade they would eventually provide.

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Note: WordPress has done another update to their format, changing the look of my editing space and eliminating options that I previously used when formatting my posts. I do not have the control I once had, so things may appear different from what you were used to seeing until a time when I figure out a new way to achieve the results I desire.

Already, I miss the good old days of composing my posts.

Disgruntled-ly yours,

JWH

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Written by johnwhays

October 2, 2020 at 6:00 am

Two Angles

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Cyndie has become quite the photojournalist of late, supplying the majority of images I have been using in my posts. Here are two from differing angles capturing the early fall color we are enjoying this year.

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Taken over the last two days, you can see how just a little direct sun really amps up the boldness of color in the leaves.

I recently saw maps showing the percentage of peak color for Minnesota and western Wisconsin that indicated the county where we live was ahead of the surrounding area. We aligned more with the amount of color seen up north early on.

It’s a wonderful perk, except that it likely means we will lose leaves sooner and extend the monochromatic months of bare branches.

How’s that for two angles of looking at a situation?

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Written by johnwhays

September 29, 2020 at 6:00 am

Magnificent Days

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We are enjoying magnificent weather this week for the month of September, although in the back of my mind the very summery temperatures echo too well some of the anticipated ramifications of the warming planet.

No floods or fires in our region at the moment. Just high heat (80┬░F!) and evolving colors in the tree leaves.

Wandering down the backyard hill toward the opening to the labyrinth, the leaves are still primarily green. Beyond that, there are brilliant splashes of gold, orange, and red showing up with surprising speed.

Our growing season seems to be ever-lengthening, but the end of this summer’s agricultural period is undoubtedly near. The declining hours of daylight aren’t being altered by the changing climate and plants don’t grow so well in the dark.

On the bright side, I think my lawn mowing might be done for the year.

Yesterday morning at work I received a sweet text from Cyndie letting me know that she heard “Rocky the Roo'” making progress on learning how to crow. She said his call had a definite sing-song inflection that was recognizable as the vague hint toward the ultimate “cock-a-doodle-doo.”

I wonder if the magnificent weather days will be just as mesmerizing with non-stop echos of rooster crowing reverberating across our valley. We didn’t check with any of our neighbors about how they might feel about the prospect. At the same time, none of them have ever asked us if their gunshots, barking dogs, hollering for missing cats, or high RPM farm machinery soundtracks have been any problem for us.

I think it a feature, not a bug, of living in the country.

Where pretty much every day is magnificent, no matter what the sounds.

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Bold Color

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Yesterday was a comfortably quiet Sunday. I stole some time to nap in the hammock, but otherwise, my day was consumed by a small number of tasks in the incredible comfort of a gorgeous summer day. I took Delilah with me to trim a rash of willow tree sprouts starting to clutter the main drainage swale running the length of our southern property border.

She is back to her old bouncy self already, long before the shaved wounds have fully closed.

The beef cattle in the adjacent field took an interest in my activity and congregated along the fence. When a couple of them pushed their giant heads between two strands of the barbed wire to munch on the leaves of a tree I had just tossed aside, Delilah asserted herself enough to back them all off.

She appears to have a keen grasp of our property line.

We are back to full walks around the periphery trails, where we came upon one of nature’s brilliant displays of uncharacteristic color.

Looks like this could be where the idea for crunchy Cheetos® originated.

Delilah totally ignored it as she strolled past, but I stopped to give it my full attention. I decided against checking to see what it tasted like, though.

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Written by johnwhays

August 17, 2020 at 6:00 am

Storm Departs

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Cyndie shared some scenes from the aftermath of a thunderstorm that bowled over us earlier in the week. There has been a steady stream of them lately, most being of the non-concerning variety, but not without some minor consequences.

There is another tree that has fallen across one of our trails. Honestly, before living here, I had no idea how often trees topple over in a forest. Sometimes, it’s even weather-related, but not always.

The backside of the storm was pretty obvious and the blue sky behind it served as a wonderful exclamation mark of bidding the blustery beast good riddance.

After the sun drooped below the horizon, it provided one last parting gift of illuminating a whisp of a heart-shape in one of the lower clouds.

I’ve heard of silver linings, but this cloud definitely had a pink one.

We’ve been spared the hail that some areas received the other night, and for once, the total precipitation amounts have bounced between a quarter and a half of an inch, instead of overflowing our rain gauge. A blessing that we do not take for granted one bit.

All the aspects of our paradise glow and flourish in the aftermath of each rumbly event of rocky weather. As I recline on our deck or inside the screen door soaking up the glorious calm, there is no place I would rather be.

It’s social distancing on the grandest of scales.

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Written by johnwhays

August 13, 2020 at 6:00 am

Toppled Over

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Back in April, I wrote about the derelict birdhouse properties bespoiling our otherwise stellar reputation for well-kept homes in the area. A hole in one roof and siding falling off another. Well, before they even got around to fixing that sagging siding, the whole foundation gave out. This is how we found the situation after sunrise this morning:

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Some raccoon probably got curious about what might be residing inside that aging bird home and tried climbing up to take a peek.

That’s what they get for building on an unsound foundation.

Luckily, it appears there was no one home at the time of the toppling.

Maybe someone should consider putting their birdhouse on this foundation:

It’s about twenty-five feet tall.

After clearing out small trees beneath two of our big oaks near the house, the trunk of a similar oak that had snapped off in a storm last year became clearly visible.

It’ll be a while before what’s left of that tree tips over and falls to the ground. Unfortunately, it’s beyond my reach to mount anything on top of it. The winged creatures are on their own to build a nest up there if they so choose.

We’ll find a new place for our little birdhouse catering to cavity-nesting birds that prefer heights I can actually achieve.

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Written by johnwhays

June 13, 2020 at 8:52 am

Garden Salad

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I didn’t expect it this soon after planting, but over the weekend Cyndie served up the first salad with kale and spinach from her garden. It was fabulous tasting, as well as a wonderful reward to be eating something she has grown right here at home.

Our other weekend meal was a last-minute decision to order take-out from our nearby destination restaurant, Shady Grove. We have not been to a restaurant since the pandemic outbreak and have only had pizza and Chinese takeout up until now. When Cyndie stepped in the door to pick up our haute cuisine food, she found she was the only person wearing a mask.

Hope the patrons weren’t all traveling long distances to congregate in close proximity for a couple of hours of conversation and food. We aren’t aware of any reported cases of COVID-19 in the immediate area and most of the people we have seen are responding with understandable casualness over the risks, but who knows what might arrive undetected with travelers from afar.

Interested in protecting those around us in other parts of our lives, we opt for not sitting inside with the rest of the unfamiliar folks and dine at home for now. Neither of us is very concerned about our risk of getting sick, but we each are very interested in not becoming an unwitting carrier who could spread the illness to her family or my coworkers.

When I was down in the woods on Sunday cutting up the latest of the fallen trees, I had a thought that we should probably be focusing on planting new trees to make up for all the ones we lose. Then I realized that we find uncountable numbers of new trees popping up every spring, to a fault. They show up everywhere, particularly noticeable in places we don’t want them. In our landscaping around the house, underneath preferred mature trees, and too close to buildings.

Nature plants more trees than we ever could. We just need to figure out how to manage them.

While writing about the salad and all the new trees sprouting, I thought it would be perfect to include an image of each. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of either. Instead, you get two recent versions of our sky overhead, one taken by Cyndie and one by me. Guess which one is from me.

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We’ve been blessed with a pretty good balance of rainstorms and warm sunny days. It has made for some pretty good progress in growing salad greens and baby trees.

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Written by johnwhays

June 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

Inverted Stump

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In the ongoing saga of finishing what we started with clearing growth from beneath two large oak trees near the driveway, I resumed the weekend lumberjack role on Saturday. Wielding the Stihl chainsaw like it was an extension of one of my limbs, I spent the day cutting up downed wood from the week prior.

Some of the main trunks were so heavy that we couldn’t lift them, which presented a challenge when it came to cutting them into fireplace log size. I don’t like cutting on the ground. We came up with a solution using a pry-bar, but I have since realized I could have made partial cuts down the full length of the heavy trunk and then rolled it over to finish each one.

I can test that method next week. There is one downed tree trunk left to be cut into logs.

While I was cleaning up the area, I decided to cut some of the leftover stumps closer to ground level. That exercise led to a need to change the chain on the saw. One particular stump was hollow and very resistant to my effort to saw it off. Turns out the bottom portion was filled with dirt and debris that quickly destroyed the sharpness of the chain.

We decided the abuse was worth it in the end because that stump is going to make a wonderful planter and we have the perfect spot for it. I flipped it over and showed it to Cyndie who was instantly sold on the idea.

The grape-vine covered bird feeder that tipped over this spring due to a rotted cedar post created a void that Cyndie had planned to fill with flowers. Now, the inverted stump-turned-planter is going to be the centerpiece of that new display.

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Written by johnwhays

May 11, 2020 at 6:00 am

Incremental Change

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Like a slow train crawling along a track, I am seeing multiple signs of the changing seasons unfolding with an unstoppable impetus. I wish it would all take a pause long enough to give us added time cleaning up fallen trees and branches that are clearly visible in our woods now that the snow is gone. The clock is ticking toward the explosion of green leaves that will quickly obscure the views on either side of our trails.

What looks like a relatively simple effort now will soon become too thick with growth to effectively navigate for cutting and hauling.

On the drive home yesterday I noticed many of the farm fields are already being prepped with applications of manure fertilizer. One neighbor was out on his lawn tractor dragging something across the yard that looked like a way to break up the gopher mounds and molehills to smooth things out for that first mow of the season.

New shoots of green groundcover leaves are making an appearance all over the floor of our forest. It won’t be long and we will get a chance to see how many of our transplanted trillium plants are still surviving.

Even though there are still many places along our trails where there is standing water from the complete saturation of the soil, there are areas where some quick-growing grasses are sprouting taller than what my mower would cut off if I was able to be out mowing already.

The changes in the natural world are ongoing, day and night. Every walk around the property reveals something new that is growing or drying out. The trees are beginning to form the early hint of leaf buds that will soon create a fresh tint of yellowish-green crowns that are the precursor to the burst of actual leaves.

Many years of commuting have provided repeated evidence of how that new green glow shows up across the treetops in a matter of a day. One day, nothing. The next day, visible buds everywhere!

Every day the natural world is evolving, but I sense the locomotive of change from winter to spring is gathering much more spring-like momentum at our latitude this week.

Maybe we should start getting ready for summer while there’s still time.

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Written by johnwhays

April 7, 2020 at 6:00 am