30 Days of Biking Day 23.
After a string of days with minimal rides was thrilled to make a midday trip to Meadowbrook Park.
Seemed like it would rain any time, but there was only an occasional light sprinkle. The sky was thickly cloudy, but the temp was 57 F, and the wind rather light: plenty comfortable! Indeed, the fragrance of, e.g., Narcissus, was evident in the mild air.
To my delight, the white-throated sparrows in the neighborhood (and also at Meadowbrook), at least some of them, sweetly and clearly intoned the first three notes of the the solo in the Largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony. I knew the ones that knew it were out there somewhere.
Headed south on Race Street, where the shifting tilt of vultures gliding overhead caught my eye. At least two or three lit and roosted in the
wall of spruce trees along the sidewalk. Amazing how hard it was to see those large birds sitting among the spruce branches.
At Meadowbrook parked Blue and walked toward the soft (yes, now it truly was) path to the interior of the prairie. In the wooded area near the bike rack were Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells) in bloom and pre-blooming May apples (Podophyllum peltatum), their umbrella-like leaves
recently opened. Also caught the scent of garlic, most likely that invasive garlic mustard Alliaria petiolata).
On the way to the prairie there was a lot of water near but outside of the creek. Saw lots of large, wide, new crayfish chimneys.
Water flowed noisily under the low wooden bridge over McCullough Creek. In the bottom of the creek near the bridge could see bones, which I assumed must have belong to one of the beavers that had died since last summer [Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette] But closer
inspection revealed that the bones were long and must have belonged to a deer. No sooner did I recognize the bones than realized a couple of live deer were almost close enough to touch. They seemed unconcerned by my presence.
A little way into the prairie saw a bluebird (not an indigo bunting because could just detect a rusty underside) perched on an old compass plant stalk, and it was indeed blue. Stunning! There was another, of a less saturated blue, near by. Oh, for a camera with zoom!
Not much appeared yet growing above last year’s thatch. Wondered if any evidence of the shooting stars (Dodecatheon meadia) I’d seen
in past years was visible and checked out the site. Yes! Leaves and flower stalks were up; flowers were in green bud! How exciting to
see them from this early stage! How exciting to watch the subtle, quiet beauty of the winter prairie transform into something striking and obvious.
Couldn’t resist catching this splash of cultivated spring color on the way home. What an amazing show: narcissus, hyacinths and grape
hyacinths, and tulips all blooming together. Maybe not as cool as native plants, but still a pleasure to behold.