Sunday 30 September 2012. The Prairie Slows Down

Now that it doesn’t get light in the morning until close to 7 am, I’ve been doing indoor activities before venturing on the official velo, but did want to report a sighting (was on Discovery at the time) of the full moon going down around 6 am, almost exactly half way between the north and south halves of the sky.  Its light was starting to dim and it was surrounded by a small, soft halo.

By the time I set out for Meadowbrook Park, the sky was clear; the air was still chilly but comfortable with the protection of a fleece jacket and cotton gloves.

Destination was the Windsor/Vine bridge to see whether any beavers might be about.  Yes, it was another non-westward Sunday.  So much for the pattern.

Felt again the joy of on-a-bike mobility, something I try to remember, especially as the years go by, not to take for granted, for it’s never guaranteed.

At the Windsor/Vine bridge, the only obvious animal action was a few spreading  circles on the surface of the water: fish or maybe tadpoles. No bullfrog sounds. And I’ve missed the changes in activity of the beavers.  At the last

several visits I’ve been just standing at the bridge, looking for but not seeing any beavers, feeling bereft of them.  They must be around, but I seem to have lost my attunement to their activities, alas.

After the visit to the bridge, made an atypical (for me) counter-clockwise big loop.  Some patches of fresh, bright

goldenrod remained, but overall the blanket had faded. It made me sad.  The prairie is becoming somber.  You could call it “mature.”

Couldn’t help comparing the state of the prairie vegetation to that of my own life, to the aging process.  Youth is just more attractive, easier to appreciate, something we miss when it fades, let’s face it.

And yet, with a little effort and patience, one can see beauty in the somber prairie, for example, the smooth, dark

Baptisia pods, which make a cool rattling sound in the wind (or if you shake them).

This time of maturity is less about flowers and more about seeds, less about exuberance and more about rest.  Age and its effects, for a season or a lifetime, are, much as we fight them, natural and normal–and not completely without their charms.

Still, even in this somber-ing season, the exuberantly blue bottle gentians, growing down low, almost out of sight,

which I knew would still be there near the marker statue, only now are fully abloom.

Could have stayed all day photographing them.

But that was not possible, so continued to the rabbit bridge to check on the cardinal flowers.   On the way saw   walnut trees that had dropped their leaves already, leaving mostly bare branches with some large ornaments of heavy walnut fruits.

A spike of cardinal flowers remained visible from the bridge.  Didn’t venture close to it,  just got a distant photo

of it, savored its brief existence, recalled the abiding gratitude I felt to have witnessed its appearance this year.

As the flowers of the prairie were fading, though, the leaves of the woody plants were starting to take their fall (yes, so brief!) colors.  They bespoke a defiant joy, even in their fast-approaching demise.

On the way home down Race Street a hawk, probably a red-tail, flew low, over my left shoulder then ahead of me, for a little way before it disappeared into some trees on the right side of the road.  It was a kind of thrilling, an unexpectedly close encounter with ever-changing nature.


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