Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘walking

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

Sunrise Greeting

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Wednesday morning, as Cyndie was making her way in the sub-zero cold with Delilah for the first walk of the day, she captured this wonderful view of Dezirea, alone in the back pasture as the sun climbed above the eastern horizon.

cckj2132echThank you for sharing, Cyndie!

Last night, when I stepped out with the dog for her last walk before bed, and to roll the garbage bin down to the road, we were met by the magical glow of winter moonlight. It is such a striking contrast from the inky blackness we experience here on a moonless summer night.

Our end to the day was a nice bookend to the start that Cyndie captured at dawn.

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Written by johnwhays

February 10, 2017 at 7:00 am

Which Way

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In the months following Cyndie’s knee replacement procedure at the end of November, I admittedly neglected the labyrinth. Contrary to previous winters, this year I haven’t bothered to walk the path each time it snowed. On Sunday, Cyndie mentioned that she wanted to use the labyrinth again. It was time to tread that pattern.

It wasn’t as easy to execute the proper turns as I had hoped. With the rocks mostly buried, I needed to start from both the outer entrance heading in, and then from the center, heading out, before I figured out precisely where I needed to be.

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Once I had figured out the correct route, as we walked the path and chatted I began to notice a lift in my spirits. Cyndie pointed out something I had completely overlooked: she was walking on the snowshoes with her new knee. It was a noteworthy achievement.dscn5770e

I also discovered something else that was occurring.

My neglect of the labyrinth for the previous months had been intentional, giving me one less thing to tend to during Cyndie’s convalescence. During those months, I felt a small sense of pleasure over not spending any energy on it. What I didn’t realize was, ignoring the labyrinth was contributing to my feelings of hopelessness.

There was this duality again. (See comments with Jim on my post “Being Me.”) I didn’t want to have the labyrinth, and I did want to have it. Both feelings were present at the same time.

It feels like having Cyndie and the labyrinth both functional again is helping me to find my way once more.

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Written by johnwhays

February 7, 2017 at 7:00 am

Look Up

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Some very interesting images can be found by looking straight up. A few days ago, I posted a shot looking up a concrete utility pole in Florida. Here is another version of the same pole, after walking around to the other side.

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They probably deserve to be shown as a pair. I like the contrast of the opposing direction of the light source between the two.

Meanwhile, I’m back at the day-job, digging out from a backlog of work that piled up while I was away. I was so exhausted when I walked in the door after work yesterday, I laid down for a minute. Pequenita immediately took advantage of my presence and pummeled me with kneading and head-butting in a quest for attention.

I think she missed me.

In a blink, I was no longer blinking. My eye lids stayed down and my brain checked out. It just so happened, my labor wasn’t immediately needed outside. For the first time since Cyndie’s knee surgery on the last day of November, she handled the outdoor ranch duties!

I think the chance to do some extended walking while we were in Florida, away from the icy, snowy terrain, boosted her confidence. Monday night she walked Delilah while I cleaned up manure and filled hay boxes. Yesterday, she did morning and evening chores, drove to a physical therapy appointment, did exercises there, and then went grocery shopping.

Talk about getting back into action. Of course, after dinner it was quickly time to get horizontal for the rest of the night and ice the knee. Fair enough.

It feels like I have come out of the tunnel. Things are definitely looking up.

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Written by johnwhays

January 25, 2017 at 7:00 am

An Experiment

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I tried a little experiment yesterday. I treated the Grizzly like a snow machine and did some trail riding. I had the benefit of some aggressive winter tires that were included in the deal when we bought the used ATV, but the results of my experiment did not ultimately produce results I was hoping to achieve.

DSCN4381eI was envisioning a wider trail than the skinny packed footprints created by Cyndie when she has been walking Delilah. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to plow the deep snow, because there wasn’t enough traction to overcome the added resistance, I hoped to at least skim off an upper layer while packing down the edges under the wheels.

One of the reasons that didn’t work is that the blade would still dig in at times because the terrain isn’t perfectly flat. I had to lift the blade to a point it was rarely skimming any snow at all.

That produced a final result of two deep ruts on the outside with a narrow plateau in the middle. It didn’t solve the narrow path issue that annoys me.

The best way to get what I want is to purposely trudge the foot trail wider and wider as you go. It is a process that takes time to achieve, although not really all that long if you are walking it 3-times a day with a dog. I have taken to putting on snow shoes this weekend, to more quickly widen and pack the main perimeter route, even though that adds unwanted preparation time to the exercise of getting geared up for a simple walk.

If I was dead set on using the ATV, I could drive the trails over a series of days and make enough progress to plow it down, since the snow will re-freeze each night and provide increasingly better traction for the wheels, but that’s not really what I want.

Given a choice, I prefer a human-powered solution, as well as the aesthetic outcome that a foot path through the woods provides.

I’m going to keep strapping on the snowshoes for a few days.

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Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2016 at 11:00 am

Wonderful Adventures

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We enjoyed a fabulous day of wonderful adventures on the first day of 2016 up in the woods of northern Minnesota with our friends Barb and Mike. I captured some evidence.

We went for a walk in the woods of their nearby property…

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We went for a walk on their lake. It is a very, very deep water lake, and only recently froze over. We mostly stayed close to the shore. The ice thickness was reported as being just enough to support foot traffic, but nothing beyond that yet.

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DSCN4310eI wore my festive hat that the Morales family bought for me when they visited us at Wintervale a couple of Christmases ago. Perfect!

We topped off the incredible day with a visit to a neighboring property where I experienced two amazing firsts. This family hosts an annual New Year celebration with their own custom fireworks show. I have never stood that close to a show that was that big and that spectacular. I’m happy to report, we all survived unscathed. Did I mention it was spectacular?

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Too bad my hasty attempt at capturing one of the explosions with my pocket camera didn’t do it the justice it deserves.

The other first for me was witnessing this brilliant design for burning a one log fire in a vertical position. What amazed me was that I hadn’t come across this before in my 56 years of existence. I want to make some!

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Written by johnwhays

January 2, 2016 at 10:13 am