Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘woods

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

Stepping Out

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It it possible to pull into our driveway and roll past the barn and horses with hardly a notice when they have tucked themselves under the overhang. You can make your way to the house and get inside where a comfy chair awaits, plop your butt down and prop your feet up for the rest of the night, never having any sense of what is going on outside.

I know this, because I’ve done it.

With Cyndie able-bodied again, it is possible for me to come in the house after work and crash on the recliner while she takes Delilah out for a walk and tends to the evening horse chores. When I am over-tired, it is a real blessing, but it comes with a cost.

Just a day or two away from a walk in our woods and visiting with the horses creates a surprising disconnect from the healthy flow of energy each provides.

Like so many things, I became aware of this yesterday when I needed to cover for Cyndie’s absence when I got home from work. It’s not hard to do, once you get the body in motion. After a quick change of clothes, I was out the door to retrieve Delilah from her kennel in the back yard and off we went, exploring the trails that are a strange mix this time of year. They are snowy, though melting, getting muddy around the edges, yet still frozen just below the surface.

It was a function of being out of the house again that made me realize how insulating it can be when I remain inside.

After a tour of a few trails, Delilah and I made our way to the barn. The herd was wonderfully calm and serene. I did my best to match their energy and control my excitement to walk among them again.

After I had cleaned up the area and served their afternoon feed, I paused to capture a snapshot of the landscape showing the mixture of turf and melting snow cover. Dezirea must have sensed I was standing there and poked her head out from beneath the overhang to check on me.

I was happy to include her in the shot.

You can see she is sporting a fashionable facial mud mask that she applied all by herself.

I returned to the seclusion of indoors with a renewed energy of having paid a precious visit to the paradise that is always ready and waiting. All we need to do is step into it.

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Written by johnwhays

March 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

Morning Pictures

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Delilah and I set out in the pre-dawn light to walk the long way through the woods to the barn so we could feed the horses. The coloring comes through with a blue tint before the sunlight starts making its way through the clouds.

dscn5548eI always find the view of fresh snow on the branches irresistible to capture, but the pictures never do justice to what I get to see in real life.

Legacy likes to pretend he doesn’t know how to get around the obstacle of the arena fence line to come in for the morning morsels of feed. The two younger chestnuts ignore his act and simply keep grazing until its time to go.

dscn5552eThis morning provided good evidence of the horses having a preference for one hay over another from the selections we have to offer them this year. I specifically mixed the supply in this box last night.

dscn5550eNot wanting them to suffer over their picky-ness about the fuel being served this morning in the snowy cold, I emptied the box of the less desirable hay and replaced it with one of the bales they prefer.

I dumped the unwanted hay out in the raised circle.

dscn5553eNow guess which one they prefer.

After getting back up to the house to feed the rest of the crew, I will be stepping back outside to crank up the Grizzly for the first snowplowing of the year.

With a Polar Vortex cold snap predicted for the days ahead, it is finally feeling a lot like winter around Wintervale today.

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Written by johnwhays

December 11, 2016 at 11:06 am