Relative Something

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

Lake Art

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On a partly sunny day, between rain showers that rolled over us at regular intervals, I wandered down to the dock to soak up some sun. I thought maybe I could collect enough rays to lightly toast the inside of my arm to dry out what is now a pretty fierce poison ivy rash.

I don’t think it did anything for the rash, but I pulled out my camera and played around with the speckled pattern of puffy white clouds reflected on the surface of the water.

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For landlubbers, I’ll garnish these with an image from the forest to bring us back to solid ground…

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Written by johnwhays

May 29, 2017 at 8:02 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

Precious Getaway

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We are so lucky to have people who are willing and able to take care of our animals for enough time to allow us to get away to the lake place every so often. It is our Memorial holiday weekend in the U.S. and for the second time in three weeks, we are again up at the lake place.

This time, we are without Delilah. She stayed home to be with our very capable recent college graduate, McKenna. Two of Cyndie’s brothers are up here with kids, and her parents as well. We got the weekend off to a very festive start by venturing out to the Lost Land Lake Lodge for the Friday night fish fry.

The place was hopping and our server was a real charm. Food was perfect in every way and the family banter was wonderfully entertaining. It was almost enough to entirely purge the lingering mental distractions of the day-job, where business has gotten so good (busy) it’s getting annoying.

Before the night was over, I had already lost two completely different card games. It didn’t bother me one bit. The precious ambiance was all the victory I needed for putting me in my happiest of places.

A precious getaway is an amazingly priceless luxury. This one is certainly more than I deserve.

As it fills my cup to overflowing, I will send the extra love out to you and the world to distribute and amplify all that is good.

It’s the least one can do for a world that too often seems out of our reach to help.

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Coming Together

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I was keeping Delilah tied close to me while cleaning up around the paddock, partly to keep her out of trouble with the horses, but also because I don’t want her venturing to the full reach of the leash, scouting chickens. She seems to understand the drill.

After retrieving her from the kennel located behind the house, we walked along the back pasture fence line toward the chicken coop. I had already checked on the chicks earlier, so knew where to expect them. Keeping myself between the chicks and Delilah, we strode parallel to the coop where I stopped to put the memory card in the trail cam for the night.

She was appropriately curious, but not frantic over the presence of the birds. I doubt she will ever reach a point where she would let one of the birds walk into her space without attempting to grab it, but it feels nice to have her practicing a respectable level of calmness with them in view.

In the paddock, I had my attention on the task at hand, letting Delilah explore the immediate vicinity around me. When she stopped and stared, I looked up to find the chicks making their way over from the coop to join the horses for some short grass grazing.

Although separated by safe distances with Delilah restrained on the leash, it felt good to have us all coming together in the paddock. It was a hint of the ideal we wish could somehow come to be.

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Written by johnwhays

May 26, 2017 at 6:00 am

Generations

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

May 25, 2017 at 6:00 am

Joking’s Over

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Last weekend, while spending extended time with friends in our home, I came to realize from some comments that I tend to paint an unbalanced portrait of Delilah, which leans toward the harsh. As recently as two days ago I posted a picture that I intended as humorous, giving her a thought bubble that played on my tendency to trumpet her carnivorous nature.

By frequently referring to how ferocious she can be, I have been neglectful of her gentle side. Our little pooch presents with a happy-go-lucky gentleness more often than not. In fact, it is probably why I don’t tend to write much about it. Her good behavior is so common as to become overlooked. We take it for granted.

It’s the exceptional moments of craziness that grab all the headlines.

Well, it’s hard not to write about the exceptional moments.

Today, I am feeling some regret about my attempt at humor over Delilah’s interest in our chickens.

Yesterday morning, while Cyndie was cleaning up under the overhang of the barn, Delilah could hold back no longer. She lunged hard enough against her leash anchor to break the handle and bend the hook it was hanging on. The handle banged against the siding of the barn and caused the horses to jump, alerting Cyndie to go check on what happened.

In that flash of seconds, we lost our first chicken to a predator. A domestic predator.

We knew all along that having free-ranging chickens around Delilah was high risk, but we simply hoped for the best. It seemed that our gradual controlled exposure to their presence was being accepted with surprising calmness, between bouts of excessive interest.

We knew she wasn’t to be trusted yet, but there were enough moments when she was demonstrating appropriate acceptance of the chickens that we felt hopeful about the chances of further improvement.

We don’t fault her for acting on her natural instinct. Delilah has given us a chance to more closely consider the delicate balance of predator/prey relationships. She is also forcing us to renew our attention to directing her exactly in the manner we need her to behave.

It’s not the dog that needs the most training. It’s her handlers.

To her credit, Delilah’s choice of victim turned out to be the extra Rhode Island Red from the batch of 10 we received for our purchase of 9 chicks. We are now down to three each of the 3 breeds we ordered.

Maybe yesterday’s incident will help me to think twice about joking over Delilah’s carnivorous ways in the future, but I’m guessing my writing will still highlight more of her wild behaviors than her quiet moments. It’s the nature of this beast.

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Written by johnwhays

May 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

Working Through

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Some chores don’t wait for nice weather, so we ventured out into the constant drizzle on Sunday to open space in our compost area, despite the inconvenience. Cyndie had moved the horses indoors out of the wet on Saturday night, which resulted in soiled wood shavings in their stalls at a time when we didn’t have space in the compost area.

Luckily, there is a spot next to the barn where we’ve been using composted manure and old hay to fill in a drop in the landscape. The area had been a too convenient runway for water drainage that was problematic. Bringing it back to level with the surrounding area will spread and slow water flowing from above.

Out came the Grizzly, after putting air in the leaky front tire, and the metal grate trailer for an increasingly muddier series of loads from the compost area. Very similar to working on moving innumerable bales of hay, as time goes by, the loads seemed to get heavier and heavier and I started to move slower and slower. Cyndie pushed back against my increasing moments of pause, with a goal of getting the job done as quickly as possible so she could get in out of the cold and wet.

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When she proclaimed we were down to just two loads remaining, I corrected her with the estimation of four loads. After I tried to take out a small load to assure my estimation would win, she suggested we could toss some of the last bits into the woods around the compost area, leading to an outcome of three loads completing the task. It was declared a tie.

We were wet, it was muddy, but we had worked through the nasty weather to accomplish a necessary chore. We now have open space for composting again.

And not a moment too soon.

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Written by johnwhays

May 23, 2017 at 6:00 am