Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘trees

Catching Up

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I’m in ‘catch-up’ mode this weekend, trying to do a week’s worth of chores around the property after my bicycling vacation. Tomorrow, it’s back to the grind of the day-job. Meanwhile, Cyndie remains tethered to one-arm limitations while her shoulder heals from the surgery.

I finished mowing and trimming the lawn grass areas yesterday, but that leaves quite a few acres of fields yet to be mowed with the big tractor and the brush cutter. It’s a jungle out there!

The horses happily volunteered to work on keeping the arena space short.

We enjoyed a pleasant surprise yesterday when a contractor knocked on our door to announce he was ready to start work on building doors for our hay shed. After a few years of watching the outside bales baked to a nutrition-less crisp of dried straw, we have settled on solid doors for a long-term solution.

The prospect of a curtain or hanging shade cloth would be a challenge to secure against the abuse of wind and sun. Rolling metal doors is our choice.

Speaking of wind, we lost two large tree branches to a gust yesterday after I mowed. I didn’t even notice the wind blowing, but the evidence is impossible to ignore in two completely different ends of our property.

Even after having the tree service trim out the risky dead wood from our large trees, there is always a threat of falling branches. Maybe we need to provide hard hats on windy days around here. Geesh.

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Written by johnwhays

June 25, 2017 at 10:32 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Feeling Summer

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I like the simple designation of meteorological seasons by month, over the astrological solstice and equinox markers. My brain senses the longest day should mark the middle of summer and the shortest day, the middle of winter. By meteorological reference, summer happens in June, July, and August.

It sure felt like summer on the second day of June this year. Last night, as we tried to cool the house by opening windows to the evening air, the enticing sounds of heavy, distant rumbling thunder rolled slowly closer and closer. Eventually, we enjoyed an almost gentle thunderstorm that this morning has left barely a trace of its visit.

Except for the amazing response of growing things. Our landscape is under siege.

Just beyond our deck, the previous prominent low spruce is getting swallowed by ferns from behind and volunteer cedar trees from the front. The clematis on our trellis is being crowded out by a volunteer maple that decided to make itself at home there.

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I don’t understand why the scotch pine to the left of the trellis is so anemic. Everything around it is growing fast and furious. It is possibly being hindered by the same affliction taking down so many of our long needle pines.

The ornamental reeds in our little garden pond are spreading themselves well beyond the edges, giving the impression they will soon fill the space if left unhampered.

Meanwhile, the climbing vines are voraciously trying to blanket all of our trees, the unwanted grasses taking over our pastures, and poison ivy is thriving like you wouldn’t believe.

What’s a gardener to do? I tend to prefer a hands-off approach to the nature-scape, but we are finding the land inundated with invasives and trouble-makers that require decisive action. Desirables like maple trees are sprouting in places where they don’t belong, and though prized, will become problems if neglected.

I must overcome my reluctance and sharpen my skills of seek and destroy, or at least aggressively prune, prune, prune.

In the same way we wish broccoli tasted like chocolate, Cyndie and I are wishing the desired plants would simply crowd out weeds to the point all we needed to do would be a little cutting of the grass and lounging in the garden.

All you folks wanting to suggest we get some goats… it is increasingly weighing on my mind. Maybe I will try renting some for a trial run.

There just aren’t enough hours in a day for us to manage the explosion of growth summer brings.

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Written by johnwhays

June 3, 2017 at 9:02 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

Maples Everywhere

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Maybe we shouldn’t be trying so hard to get a maple tree to grow in the center of our labyrinth. In areas where we have put no effort to entice new maple trees, they are popping up like weeds! If we wait long enough, I’m sure the labyrinth will be filled with new volunteer maple saplings.

New maple trees are flourishing beneath the large poplar tree next to the shop.

Maples are sprouting among the ferns by the basement window.

They are rising from the perennial ground cover growing by the back fire pit.

Lastly, the new trail I opened up behind the woodshed looks like a nursery for maple trees.

If there is any justice in this world, the maples we have to remove due to their poor choice of root will be offset by one successful transplant taking hold where we want it to grow most.

Happily, this spring all signs are good that it has survived the winter with enough energy to sprout leaves. The next question enshrouding our hopefulness is, will the leaves survive the full length of summer?

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Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

Laking It

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Happy Mother’s Day all you moms out there! We are starting the day up at the lake with Cyndie’s mom and dad. This afternoon, we have dinner plans with our children and whomever can make it from her brother’s families.

It feels like the middle of May.

Plants and trees up at the lake place are a week or more behind the growth that has popped at home. I find the perspective it offers points out the end of opportunities for easy access to our wooded areas. Up here, we can still walk easily in among the trees, while at home the explosion of leaves is quickly closing down views and avenues of travel.

On the plus side, we have the return of a shade canopy over our forests. That makes Delilah much happier.

With her thick coat, she is quick to seek out shade when we have her outside on sunny days. I assumed she would be thrilled with the opportunity to cool herself in the chilly water of the big lake this weekend, but she has surprised us with a distinct timidity at the water’s edge.

She has behaved totally non-fazed by the new confines of the cabin, and seems to adore exploring the grounds on her leash. Alas, the water holds no allure, even with the added excitement of spawning fish splashing about in the shallows.

I think it’s a good thing there are no signs the turtles have been burying eggs in the sand of the beach yet. She would be very pleased to dig for such treasure.

Between walks, she naps nearby during our card games, with only occasional startles or barks over the squawking crows and rare boat traffic happening by.

It’s been a soothing, calm getaway for us, nicely described by the term, “laking it.”

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Written by johnwhays

May 14, 2017 at 7:15 am

Some Progress

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I’m pretty sure I mentioned that the cleanup from our late winter tree trimming was going to be such an extensive project it would take the full summer to accomplish. I think that under-estimates the size of the project. One reason is the number of downed branches that were in our woods before we added to it with the trimming.

As we start the process of collecting branches from the trimming, it leads to a seemingly unending supply of other downed wood that also deserves to come out. We spent most of the morning yesterday cleaning out the section of woods where I had pulled down the three leaning widow-makers last summer.

This created monstrous new piles on the edge of the trail.

After lunch, I brought out the tractor and chipper to get down to business. We started in the back yard where the smaller maple tree branches were in three reasonable piles. With so much to do, I probably was trying to go too fast. Not paying enough attention to the exit chute, I was still feeding branches in after a plug had formed.

The spinning blades of the chipper will continue to pulverize the wood into dust. The dust finds any opening to escape and a cloud starts to form around the machine. That part finally got my attention. Oops.

After a significant delay to open the unit up and remove the plug and scraps wrapped around the spindle, we got back into the groove and made reasonable progress. By the end of the day, we hadn’t made it around to the two newest piles we stacked in the morning, but we converted one of the oldest piles in the woods into a mini-mountain of chips.

As much as I’d like to have our entire property done all at once, I’m working to accept the partial progress as good enough. Getting the chips spread along the trail helps to serve as a nice reward that soothes my angst in the mean time.

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Written by johnwhays

April 8, 2017 at 8:58 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