Tag Archives: yard

Birds, Lawn Sprinkling, and Nature

sprinkling

Years ago, on a Saturday, my lawn was again in need of liquid sustenance and I was in watering mode, repositioning sprinklers in half-hour increments. During one mid-morning trek, there were two birds on my deck railing. I walked by them slowly, wondering how close I could get before they flew off in fear. They never did, even though I passed within a couple of feet. I’m not sure if they are immature, sickly, or both.

This continued for several hours, even when I made no attempt to slow my approach or quiet my steps. Desiring to snap a photo, I retrieved my camera. As I was setting it for an outdoor shot, I heard a loud thud. Looking up, only one bird remained on the rail, with the other staggering in an apparent daze on the deck next to the window. Soon his friend fluttered down to join him.

I thought I missed my shot, but 30 minutes later they were again on the railing, where they stayed a few more hours.

The next day, as I rounded the corner of my house, one of them was sitting in the grass and I almost ran into him. He studied me carefully before casually flying to a nearby tree.

Nature, for all its awesome beauty, can be awfully cruel. Click To Tweet

Sadly, the following Monday, there was a suspicious pile of feathers in about that same place. Today, the apparent survivor was alone, randomly walking on my driveway, as though not knowing what to do. Nature, for all its awesome beauty, can be painfully sad.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Squirrely Behavior

squirrel

Years ago, the squirrel population around our home seems to be on the increase. One of their favorite pastimes was gathering nuts from my neighbor’s trees and relocating them to my yard. For years this has been happening with acorns, resulting in me pulling up tiny oak trees each spring.

Now they’ve added hickory nuts to their menu, as my bare feet frequently encounter empty half shells in my lawn. Though they try to bury their treasures, my sod is too thick for them to have much success.

These squirrels are increasingly comfortable around humans, too, no longer scurrying away as I approach. When I was moving a sprinkler, I saw one squirrel furiously pawing at my grass attempting to dig a hole at the base of a Maple tree—and having some success in doing so.

I approached him to scare him off. He was not deterred.

I saw one squirrel furiously pawing at my grass attempting to dig a hole at the base of a Maple tree—and having some success in doing so. Click To Tweet

Forty feet away and he stopped digging to give me a long look, not fearful, but amused.

Thirty feet away and he paused to give a long and vigorous scratch to the back of his head; I think he was grinning at me.

Twenty feet away and he rolled over on this back, but not in a posture of submission as some animals do. He shimmied from side to side, rubbing his back on the hole he was boring, feet flailing in the air with unabashed jubilation. I’m sure he was laughing at me, daring me to come closer.

Ten feet away and he scampered around the tree trunk, poking his head out to watch my approach.

I circled the tree and he did the same, climbing up several feet so we could look at each other in the eye. I think he was enjoying this.

We played hide and seek for a while, and then I couldn’t find him. Eventually looking up, I spied him perched on a branch, looking down on me from a safe distance.

I instructed him sternly to stop digging holes in my lawn. I think we have an understanding.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Haste Makes Waste

I pride myself in having the discernment of knowing when to not take shortcuts, those times when doing so would likely end up costing more work or taking more time. Conversely, I also know which shortcuts are actually worthwhile. This applies to travel, repairing things, performing work, and so forth. Although I don’t believe in luck, some people seem to have better fortune than others. If you’ve seen—and happen to remember—the movie “Just My Luck” you were treated to both extremes of this situation: one person who expected everything to always work out—and it did—and the other who expected that everything would go wrong—and it did.

I remember when I did an uncharacteristically “low percentage” move, one born out of laziness or haste or a combination thereof, it was a decision with a high likelihood of disaster.

I was hand mowing around my house with the push mower; I neglected to first pick up the hoses. Upon seeing the first hose, not wanting to stop the mower, I tipped the deck up, slowly and carefully pushing it over the hose. Everything went as I hoped. At the back of the house, the process was repeated for the second hose. This time, it was done a little less carefully and a little quicker—the results were not pleasant, with bits of rubber flying in all directions. Now I had to stop the mower.

Know which shortcuts are actually worthwhile, for HASTE does indeed make WASTE. Click To Tweet

So, for not wanting to take a few seconds to stop the mower and move the hose, I ended up spending about a half an hour, going to the hardware store, buying a replacement fitting, and wrestling it into place. Now my hose is a few feet shorter as a result.

Haste does indeed make waste. I hope I learned my lesson.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Lightning and Life

A few years ago lightning struck our house. It seems most of the energy was safely dissipated via a ground wire, as intended. Yet some took a variant path, following along the eave trough and blowing the downspout away from the house, before jumping to an unused underground cable and heading towards our prized maple tree.

The telltale sign of the end of its path was mound of dirt over where the wire once was. The height and width of this trail diminished as it approached the tree, disappearing a few feet from the trunk.lightning and life-the tree

I expected the leaves to turn brown in a couple of days. I braced myself to watch my tree die. To my relief, this didn’t happen. The tree lived the rest of that year and all through the next. A year and a half later, just as the leaves began to unfold in the spring, they stopped growing and turned brown. Within a couple days, my maple tree was dead. The likely explanation was the lightning damaged the root system enough to where the tree couldn’t recover.

Above the ground, the tree looked healthy and alive. Yet, hidden from view was a tree fighting for survival. Though it hung on for eighteen months, it couldn’t recover.

Such it is with life. Every action has ramifications. Yet if the effects are delayed, we can easily assume everything is fine. With an unwise action, the lack of an immediate consequence can lull us into assuming everything is all right and embolden us to repeat our reckless behavior. On the outside, everything may look fine. But what no one can see—what we may not even realize—is that on the inside we are wounded and moving towards death, be it literal or figurative.

We need to do what is good, even when we see no benefits from our wise actions or no consequences because of our unwise acts: we never know what may await.We need to do what is good, even when we see no benefits from our wise actions or no consequences because of our unwise acts: we never know what may await. Click To Tweet

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night.

Time to Move the Sprinklers

Time to Move the Sprinklers

Last week I shared my quandary about my lawn (“The Pursuit of the Perfect Lawn“). Although my goal is to find a balance between my lawn’s appearance and the corresponding work required, I am yet discover precisely how to achieve that. Part of the issue is watering.

The “use” of water is not a concern. Irrigating a lawn does not actually consume water (see “Save Water“). It merely takes water from the earth and redistributes it—mostly back to the ground, with a bit evaporating to join rain-producing clouds. There is some electricity required to extricate the water from the earth, but that’s not a huge concern either.

My disquiet is the act of watering itself. For most people this is not an issue. Just program the irrigation system and forget it. Not so with me. I rely on the old-fashion method of dragging hoses around and carefully pointing sprinklers in order that my lawn may receive its requisite hydration.When I am in 'watering mode' I work more effectively because work occurs with greater intentionally between trips to the yard. Click To Tweet

Sometimes this is a major hassle and I wonder why I do it. However, by hand moving sprinklers I can direct water to where it is most needed: extra attention to the dry spots and a quicker pass on the shaded areas. You can’t do that with an in-ground system. Part of the lawn will always be over watered, while a few areas will inevitably be stressed.

However, I generally enjoy this task of watering. It gives me a short break from work, allows me to go outside, and provides satisfaction.  I often find that when I am in “watering mode” I work more effectively because work occurs with greater intentionally between trips to the yard.

The process is quite simple. I program a reminder using the calendar function in Outlook. When it alerts, I tell it to “snooze” for an hour and head outside to reposition the sprinklers.

Well, it just chimed, telling me it’s “time to move the sprinklers.”  Gotta go, bye!

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

In Pursuit of the Perfect Lawn

In Pursuit of the Perfect Lawn

Over the years my attitude towards lawns has changed.

I must have spent too many hours mowing lawn as a teen because when we bought our first house I was ambivalent about the condition and appearance of our grass. As long as it was mowed, I was fine. It could be weedy and brown, but as long as no anomalous growth showed from the road it was all good.Over the years my attitude towards lawns has changed. Click To Tweet

After a while my attitude changed, perhaps because brown grass isn’t much fun to view or walk on. So my goal then became to have a yard that was mowed and green. I didn’t care if it was full of weeds, as long as they were green weeds. This required watering during dry spells, but that was okay if the result was a nice shade of green.

That phase also ran it course as I became dissatisfied with neatly mowed green weeds. I then sought to be weed-free as well. This required fertilizer and weed killer—five times a year. But then to get the most out the product I was applying, more water was required.

Overall, I am pleased with the results—and it looks great from the road, as evidenced by the many positive comments I receive. Alas, with fertilizer and more watering, comes more frequent mowing. As it is turning out, the pursuit of a well-trimmed, green-colored, weed-free lawn is taking more time than I want to give it.

It seems that I know how to have a lousy looking lawn, and I’ve figured out what it takes to have a great looking lawn, but I’m thinking that the perfect lawn is part way in between—it looks okay, but doesn’t take much time. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to do that.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Top 10 Posts on From The Musings of Peter DeHaan for 2012

Here are the ten most popular posts on The Musings of Peter DeHaan for 2012. Some are quite recent while others are still being read now even though they were posted years ago. Thank you for reading my posts:

  1. Responding to Email
  2. Woodpecker Wars
  3. A Micro-Garden
  4. Healthcare Costs
  5. 3 Responses to the US Election
  6. Smile…You’re Being Scanned
  7. What If There Was No Mail?
  8. When Innovation Falls Short
  9. Google’s Chrome is Yet to Shine
  10. Do You Lie to Your Doctor?

Which one is your favorite?

Where Do Frogs ComE From?

Last night while mowing my lawn, I saw three frogs in my yard. In 24 years of living here and mowing the grass, this was a first.

Where did the frogs come from? I know the biological answer and the evolutionary answer and the creation answer, but those are the wrong answers to my question. I want to know why this trio of amphibians suddenly showed up in my yard.

  • There is no water on my property or nearby,
  • We are not in a low spot,
  • My lawn is not even damp, and
  • Given the drought earlier this summer, the water table is surely lower than normal.

Where did my frogs come from?

I asked the ever-resourceful Google and was treated with 29,300 exact matches to my query, but the top four sites didn’t provide the answer I was seeking. With 29,296 still to check, I’ve already given up.

I turn the question over to you:

Where did the frogs in my yard come from? Click To Tweet

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Could Spring be Right Around the Corner?

Technically, the first day of spring will not be for a couple more weeks (this year on March 20—unless you live south of the Equator, then you have a much longer wait).

However, the seasons seldom line up with the calendar.

For me, the best sign of spring is when I see a robin for the first time. That happened today.

Another typical sign of spring’s arrival is bulbs whose new growth begins to emerge from the ground. Unfortunately, for me, that indicator is flawed this year, as my tulips got confused with a warm fall and actually began showing their greenery last October.

Bravely these early arrivals, with their one-inch stalks, stood guard all winter long, despite repeatedly being covered with snow. Though they are no longer a vibrant green, they did nonetheless maintain their general color all winter long.

And now, with warmer temps, they seem to be growing again. It will be interesting to see if they have enough energy left to produce flowers later on, but nevertheless, they do assure me that spring is on its way.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Gas Consumption

Each winter, I have an informal means of judging the severity of the season, of ascertaining annual snowfall.

It is quite simple, really.  The more it snows, the more I run my snow blower.  The more I run my snow blower, the more gas I use.  Ergo, there is causality between my gas consumption and the amount of snow.  (Last winter, by the way, there was a moderate amount of snow.)

It never occurred to me that the same connection might exist between the quantity of gas consumed by my lawnmowers and the amount of rain received, but that seems to be the case as well.

In the month of May, we received a lot of rain and I used a lot of gas.  I recently quipped to a friend that it seemed that it was either raining or I was mowing lawn.

Indeed, the need to mow my lawn every three or four days has burned through a lot of gas so far this summer.  My gas consumption is at a faster pace this year then in previous seasons, so that must mean that we are receiving more rain than usual.

With the price of gas over four dollars a gallon, I wish it would rain a little less often.