Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘woods

Eradication Season

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It’s that time of year again. The invasive Common Buckthorn becomes much more exposed in early November, when the leaves of the desirable trees have just dropped to the ground. The deep green buckthorn leaves hang around long enough to make them easy to find.

I have taken a crack at this every fall since we arrived here, and I still get surprised to discover some really tall trees in our woods that have obviously been missed.

Yesterday, Cyndie offered to do most of the strenuous work if I took Delilah and walked the woods with her, pointing out which green leaves to eradicate. It’s not a perfect science, because there is one other bush that holds leaves this late, and its leaves are just barely less green than the buckthorn.

The challenge is compounded by Cyndie’s insatiable urge to wield the pruner with reckless abandon.

As persistent as the buckthorn invader can be at taking over the understory of our oak and maple forests, I take satisfaction in the comparison between our property and the neighbor’s. I have seen no effort to clear their property, and the results just become more obvious every year.

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Those views above are from one spot on our trail. On the left, looking into the neighbor’s land, and on the right, ours.

I would say, our efforts are proving worthy.

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Written by johnwhays

November 6, 2017 at 7:00 am

Rare Find

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Very few people ever get a chance to see the rare skunk tree in its natural environment. I was taking a shortcut through our woods now that the leaves are down and snuck up behind this specimen before he was able to hide his stripe.

Actually, I think it may have been a Halloween costume. Ever wonder what the trees in the forest are up to when no one is around?

The woods did seem a little spookier than usual last night.

At least it didn’t smell like a skunk outside.

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Written by johnwhays

November 1, 2017 at 6:00 am

Forest Find

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While Cyndie and I were perusing our woods, collecting materials for the stick fence we are making, I came upon a very picturesque tree. Well, the remains of a tree.

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As much as we like to clean out downed branches in an effort to tidy up our woods, it’s nice to find occasional examples of nature’s course playing out without our, at times, overbearing intervention.

There is something very satisfying about seeing an old tree turning back into the dirt from which it grew.

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Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2017 at 6:00 am

Uninvited Company

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The weather was spectacular yesterday for walking our woods on the second Sunday of October. Unfortunately, it brought out more than just our invited guests.

I don’t know where they’ve been hiding until now, or whether they just coincidentally arrived from somewhere else on a day when the warm sunshine inspired hoards to congregate on warm surfaces, but the Asian Lady Beetle infestation has begun with a vengeance.

We’ve suffered their invasions in the past, so it’s not a total shock to see them again. Last year their numbers were low, and it was relatively easy to disregard them.

I don’t ever remember such a stark transition in a day, going from seeing none to suddenly having them arrive en masse.

In fact, I didn’t see any of them in the morning, but by afternoon they were everywhere and became an instant nuisance.

Cyndie was using the grill on our deck to cook dinner and the invaders were all over the outer screen door when she opened the inside door. I batted the screen to shoo them off and was surprised to find they were all on the inside of the screen.

As darkness fell and lights came on in the house, the bothersome bugs were already flying around lightbulbs and occasionally landing on us.

The small shop-vac was getting a good workout last night. Something tells me it is going to become a permanent fixture in our living space this winter.

I will also be maintaining my vigilant use of a cover on my ice-water cup, but with a renewed sense of priority for a while.

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Written by johnwhays

October 9, 2017 at 6:00 am

Natural Medicine

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During my drive to work earlier this week, I heard this inspiring story on public radio about an increasing trend for Forest Bathing, a practice that started in Japan back in the early 1990s.

It’s what we do almost every day at our place. Each time we walk Delilah along the perimeter trail through our woods we are breathing healthy phytoncides emitted by the plants and trees. This reduces stress levels and boosts our immune systems.

Wandering along the trail among the trees while listening to all the bird-calls and the sounds of rustling leaves is inspiring enough on its own, but add in some of nature’s medicinal forest air filling your lungs and you enjoy quite the bonus!

Forest bathing is a perfect complement for the workshops Cyndie leads with the horses and labyrinth. It has always been part of the experience here, but we never described it with as much clarity as the variety of published articles on the subject are now offering.

I believe that giving the experience some specific definition of what is happening serves to enhance the results. Thank you MPR!

In my mind, nature has always seemed the best when it comes to medicine.

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Written by johnwhays

July 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

Other Views

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There used to be two pine trees above the pond fountain, but they were outgrowing the space available and not really thriving, so Cyndie’s parents had them cut down. In a moment of inspiration that is very familiar to me, they chose to leave a few feet of the stumps as pedestals. It’s a perfect spot for a couple of flowering plants.

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With the trees gone, I was able to capture a rare view of the “cabin” from the back side.

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I arrived to the house from that direction because I had been walking through some of the trillium carpeted woods that surround us. This forest is one that feels so perfect for me. There are other natural landscapes over the world that are spectacular, but these trees and all that comes with them resonate the most profoundly with my soul.

I must have spent a few past lives in places just like this. I know the smells and the sounds, the colors, the critters, and the majority of growing plants somewhere deep in the cells of my body.

There are many a days when I dream of what this area was really like when the first tribes of people were able to call this home, long before the time when logging on an epic scale ravaged the growth.

I’m particularly pleased with the “Wildwood” name this property holds. It couldn’t feel more appropriate.

The stroll that brought me through these trees had started down at the beach, below the front side of the house. Camera in hand, I walked onto the footbridge that crosses our little boat lagoon and looked out at the lake and up toward the lodge.

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These are both views I don’t usually capture. As leaves open, the sight lines will become more obscured. The views are no less spectacular, but the camera doesn’t come close to what the eyes perceive.

I will never take for granted how lucky I am to be able to visit this space in person, where I can see, smell, hear, and touch a natural environment to which my soul feels so emotionally attached.

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Written by johnwhays

May 28, 2017 at 8:20 am

Tree Down

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Sometimes a simple walking of the dog through the woods feels more like a reconnaissance mission of surveying the ever-changing status of our property. Certainly, after a few days of strong winds there are changes to be expected, but I’ve been surprised more than once about how easy it is to miss what eventually seems to be obvious.

Did this tree make a sound when it toppled?

We didn’t hear a thing. I expect I may have walked past it one or two times in the days since the gale force gusts blasted us for hours on end last week, but yesterday as I joined Cyndie and Delilah for morning chores, I spotted it immediately as we approached.

It fell in a perfect direction to avoid getting hung up in any other trees and pointed away from the trail. With all the other downed wood from our days of tree trimming awaiting attention, it’s possible this old poplar will be left where it lays for nature to process.

If we were intent on cleaning up downed trees and branches throughout the full extent of our meager stretch of forested acres, it would be more than a full-time job for us.

In the last couple of years we have focused our attention on the patch of trees closest to the house by the barn and back pasture, picking up dead wood that has made its way to the ground.

This is the time of year, before green leaves obscure the view entirely, when the extent of branches brought down over winter is so easy to spot that it intimidates. There is so much to be picked up. It doesn’t give any impression of our having done so last year. That is, until one strolls through the forest at the west end of our land to see how much is on the ground where nothing has ever been picked up.

I wonder what a year-long time-lapse recording of the trees and ground in our woods would look like. Timed right, I bet it would appear to be raining limbs and branches.

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Written by johnwhays

March 18, 2017 at 9:05 am