The sun was blazing in the clear sky (though the shadows were still long and the light soft and golden) by the time I started out on Blue this morning. The cool temperature called for a fleece jacket and cotton gloves; properly dressed, it was comfortable.
Forsook Champaign again this Sunday morning and headed east on Washington Street so I could see what was happening at Weaver Park, which I haven’t visited since the height of the drought.
Noticed that the markings on the Washington Street bike lane, like those on Race Street, had been refreshed
recently. The street, even at 7:15 am, was beautifully empty, although there did seem to be more dead squirrels around than usual ( (probably a result of increased activity of live squirrels) including one quite flattened in a face-down position. (No photos. Road kill is reality, but photography of it, at least of fresh examples, feels disrespectful to me.)
Entered Weaver Park from the Prairie School parking lot. The construction project, which I later learned would be
the new Urbana Early Childhood Center, was well along. I guess it was better having that than a factory or car dealership near Weaver Park. Hoped the kids would get a chance to walk through their back-yard prairie.
Crossed the wide expanse of mowed grass (now lush green) to the beginning of a mowed path through the prairie,
going west. Hoped it would eventually curve back eastward to the pond, but I turned back when it seemed like it wasn’t going to do that.
Was immediately greeted by goldenrod, then noticed the asters, which were considerably fewer but lovely as an accent. The gold-and-purple was such an enchanting combination I had a hard time looking for whatever else might have been there.
The prairie grasses added a nice russet tone to the brighter yellow of the goldenrod.
Did see a couple of late-blooming plants; my guess is they were responding to the post-drought rains: white wild
quinine and orange butterfly weed.
The alleged buffalo-wallow pond was again noticeably full of water. The emergent vegetation, especially common arrowhead and pickerel weed looked healthy again, though the surface of the water was textured with what may
have been the decaying remains of plants that had succumbed to the drought. Saw a few red-winged blackbirds from a distance (where have they been for the last month or so??) and heard their simple “check” sound.
When it was time to get back was going to exit at Illinois Street, but discovered a barricade across it. So much for
the “official” entrance.”
The red of true fall (as opposed to the strange reds of early spring and drought) was starting to tinge the tree leaves:
the leading edge of fall color.
Riding with gloves, one is a little less comfortably immersed in the moving air, maybe a little less giddy than at the height of summer. And, alas, one loses some acuity of observation when the rides aren’t daily. But today it was oh, so good to be out in this limited time of leaves and good weather.