Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘walking

Come Walk

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Tomorrow is World Labyrinth Day!

Here is how you can participate: Wake up nice and early to take full advantage of the day. Pick one thing on your long list of projects you want to accomplish on Saturday and tackle it with gusto, bright and early.

Your early start will afford you plenty of time to finish and clean up so you can take the afternoon off. The drive to Wintervale Ranch from most of the Twin Cities area is around an hour. If you leave about 11:00, you can arrive in plenty of time for the 1 p.m. peace walk in our beautiful Rowcliffe Forest Garden labyrinth on a day that could reach 80°(F).

In honor of the “Walk as One at 1,” we are holding an open house from Noon to 3 p.m., offering light refreshments, full tours of our trails through the woods, and especially, visits with our horses and chickens.

We hope you will fit this awesome opportunity into your Saturday goals to be accomplished this weekend.

Just contact Cyndie (cyndie@wintervaleranch.com) to let us know you are coming and she can offer direction details if you need. It will help us to plan accordingly.

Where else can you find so much excitement and peace all at the same time?

Wear your hiking shoes.

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Written by johnwhays

May 4, 2018 at 6:00 am

Her Story

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This is what she said: “If we were in the tropics, I would swear the sound we heard came from a tiger.”

When I got home from work yesterday, Cyndie described a morning adventure she and Delilah had. Due to a morning breakfast date with her dad in St. Paul, Cyndie rousted Delilah a little earlier than usual for a morning walk.

When they stepped out the front door into the pre-dawn light, the “tiger” unleashed a roar that stopped them in their tracks.

Cyndie said Delilah looked back at her as if for instruction, or possibly to check if maybe they could go back inside. They stood there, frozen and then the cat snarled again. Amid the sound of breaking sticks, Cyndie noted there were also unhappy sounds from an unwilling critter victim.

Delilah took a step forward, as Cyndie described it, as if her instinct was leading her to chase, but then quickly thought better and looked back again for direction. The sounds of the fracas started and stopped a few times while they stood there, but Cyndie could not make out any sign of where in the woods the action was occurring.

Deciding it felt prudent to put more space between themselves and the wild cat, Cyndie directed Delilah to turn around and head for the driveway, instead of down the trail in the woods.

“Raawwwoooooowwwrrr…”

It’s a good thing our chickens aren’t out roaming around when it’s dark. At the same time, I sure hope this predator continues to find enough meals in the hours when our hens are safely roosting in their coop, so it won’t need to do any supplementary hunting during the day.

Oh my.

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Written by johnwhays

March 30, 2018 at 6:00 am

Nearby Cows

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Walking with Delilah yesterday morning, as we approached the southwest corner of our property where four fence lines meet, we came face to face with a group of neighborly cows on the property kitty-corner to us.

This corner is as far as possible from the barn and feeding area of the neighboring farm and the cows rarely venture out this far, especially through snow. Needless to say, it was surprising to find them there.

Delilah was as curious as I about the unusual presence of company on our stroll through our woods. We stopped at the corner to be sociable. The cows showed a similar curiosity about us and closed ranks on the limited space of the corner. The mutual attraction drew Delilah and I to leave our trail and step through the brush to get closer to the fence.

I don’t have experience with cows, so had no idea how to read their behavior. Did they think we might offer some treats? They seemed exceedingly interested in us. My reaction was to get chatty with them, but they stayed mute for the most part.

As we stood ogling each other, more and more cows decided something important must be going on in that corner and made tracks to join the herd. Some seemed determined to waltz right through the crowd for a position front and center, which offered a comical demonstration of bovine group behavior.

I would translate it as, “Excuse me, excuse me, coming through.”

Followed by, “Hey! I’m standing here! Who do you think you are?”

I offered a few futile “Moo’s,” and decided to resume Delilah’s and my walk before a cow fight broke out.

I felt bad we didn’t have any treats to offer, but it was nice hanging out with the neighbors for a spell.

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Written by johnwhays

March 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

Missed Again

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If you take a lot of pictures, you know what it’s like to miss a shot. Like most things, there are more misses than hits when it comes to the spectacular capture. If you want to nail the perfect picture, beyond some good luck and good equipment, you need a lot of patience.

I came up short on all three yesterday while out on a walk with Delilah. Cyndie wanted me to give our little shepherd a workout to burn off some extra energy, so I strapped on the snowshoes and headed out to pack some of the trails that haven’t been walked since the last snow storms.

Delilah didn’t get the deep snow workout I had intended, because she was just light enough to stay on top of the wind-packed, partially melted blanket of beautiful snow, but I had a plan for that. We would be hiking many routes and doubling back on several of them.

If I can snowshoe both directions, it makes for a better packed path.

The first time we approached the road from our southern fence line, two hawks were up to something, putting on an air show with vocal enhancements that intrigued Delilah greatly.

From there we continued across our driveway and traversed what we call the “north loop” trail that pops out at the big willow tree famous for tripping Cyndie up when she stomped on the rake. Normally, this route would be followed by traveling up the driveway to the house. Delilah was locked into that program to such a degree that my instruction to turn around and head back in the other direction was met with quite the expression of complete confusion.

It’s was laughable, especially because that was quickly followed by a sprint that said, “Let’s do this!”

As we returned to the road from the opposite direction, it wasn’t a hawk that caught our attention, it was a big eagle flying away. With my eyes skyward, the silhouette of another white-headed dark bird perched in a tree was easy to catch. Even though I was limited to what my pocket camera could achieve, I stopped Delilah and tried to zoom in for a photo.

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It didn’t provide much in the way of opportunity, so after a couple shots my attention shifted to Delilah at the end of her long leash in front of me. She was staring across our field, holding a gorgeous pose that was definitely photo-ready.

As I lifted my hand with the camera and my finger reached for the shutter button, I missed and pushed the power to “Off.”

Delilah moved as I fumbled to get the power back on and the spectacular sound of large flapping wings made a couple of snaps into flight. That beautiful bald eagle pushed hard against the air to soar into the sky away from us.

It won’t be the last beautiful photo I just missed.

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Little Details

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In the slogging day to day of experiences that are hardly noteworthy, little details can become a surprise of noteworthiness. You can’t plan it. Things just happen. The greatest value is in simply noticing when happenings happen.

Yesterday, I was walking Delilah along one of our oft treaded trails when I suddenly felt this child-like urge to toy with her as obsessively fixated on some scent. I dropped to my knees in the snow and put my head next to her, excitedly asking her what she was smelling.

She seemed a little taken aback by my odd behavior, but carried on sniffing when she saw I was just joining her in the action. I zeroed in and put my nose right at the slightly discolored spot she had been checking.

Nothing, nothing, nothing, OH MY!

Skunk!

I smelled a faint, but very identifiable scent of a skunk.

Maybe if I would put my nose to the ground in the same manner that dogs do, I would gain a much greater understanding of why she reacts the way she does on our daily treks around our land.

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Written by johnwhays

February 18, 2018 at 10:44 am

Brief Respite

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The air doesn’t have that same bite this morning. The temperature didn’t drop below zero last night. When I opened the chicken door of the coop today, the two Barred Plymouth Rock hens wasted no time in running to their favorite hangout spot with the horses under the barn overhang.

Missing this morning is the bright sunshine of the cold, clear air that slapped us in the face yesterday. That sunrise cast a long shadow as it climbed over the horizon.

Today, we have grayness dominating dawn’s first light. That didn’t provide the cover I expect the deer in our woods was counting on as it rested a few yards off the trail as Delilah and I wandered by. I probably would have missed seeing it if we hadn’t just explored the deer trails off our paths yesterday afternoon.

As a treat for our hyper-curious dog, I decided to give her a chance to follow the hoof prints wherever they led, through many a tangle of branches that challenged my ability to navigate. With her still on leash, we have to do some negotiating as she frantically searches for morsels of deer droppings.

Sometimes, I contort to get under a low branch, or switch the leash from hand to hand to get around trees. Other times, I make her stop and figure out she needs to come back and go around an obstacle to continue in line with me.

We found a surprising number of melted hollows where deer had been laying. That is what informed my ability to spot the one just off the trail this morning.

Delilah had checked the scent of tracks that left our main trail and then picked up her nose to sniff the air of the woods, just like she always does. This time, I paid enough attention to actually see what she was sensing.

The deer was looking right at us, laying down with its head up, but not moving a muscle. I offered a greeting as I directed Delilah to stay on our path for the duration of the walk.

As pleasant as this break from extreme cold is, the forecast indicates it won’t continue for long. Temperatures could rise above freezing on Tuesday and Wednesday, but then the precipitation that arrives could fall as rain before turning to ice and then snow, after which the overnight low will drop back below zero again.

That’s a fine how-do-you-do.

The sick thing is, that’s also one of the reasons I like living here. Am I a glutton for punishment? Maybe we just like having something to complain about in the weather.

Weather provides adventure that I don’t need to travel to experience. It comes to me.

Meanwhile, I know how to enjoy the occasional brief respite.

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Written by johnwhays

January 7, 2018 at 10:51 am

Peacefully Walking

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Wintervale Ranch and Retreat Center hosted a World Labyrinth Day event yesterday and participated in the Walk as One at 1:00, a global wave of taking steps for peace.

Family, friends, friends of friends, neighbors, and previous property owners arrived throughout the afternoon on a beautiful May day to trek the roundabout path and ponder.

One participant mentioned she had spent 35 minutes striding to the center and back out again, adding that stopping to touch things may have lengthened the duration of her journey.

It was a delightful departure from my norm to see the labyrinth energized with so many souls walking together. I spend a lot of solo time in that garden.

Cyndie worked her magic in the kitchen to fill the counter with a wide variety of fresh-baked caramel rolls to provide both energy and incentive for walking. I was careful to avoid eating a great big serving, but by sampling bite-size nibbles from the plain, frosted, with raisins, and finally, a pecan covered version throughout the entire day, I’m sure I successfully obliterated the balance of my healthy food pyramid for the week.

After the labyrinth, the chickens and their coop became a prominent attraction for visitors, followed by a stop to see how the horses were doing.

It was an invigorating day. As always, our belief was confirmed. As fabulous a place to live as this is, it is never in full spectacular bloom until guest arrive to launch the ultimate greatness.

Thank you to all of you who found your way here yesterday. It made for a wonderful mix of energized peacefulness.

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Written by johnwhays

May 7, 2017 at 8:23 am