At 5:15 this morning it was 59 degrees F, with a southwest wind. The sky was heavy with clouds; it seemed like rain would start any time, but the phone forecast said no, so I took my chances.
Was delighted to be back on Rhododendron, heading south on Race. Noticed that the yellow cabbage roses I’d always admired actually various colors: peach and pink in addition to the abundant yellow.
Turned west on Florida to check out the prairie plants in front of the former horticultural building. Was pleased by the density of flowers: along with spiderwort and Penstemon were golden Alexanders (also common and abundant around now but haven’t mentioned them because wasn’t 100% sure of distinguishing them from the introduced wild parsnip (Pastiaca). Also there was wild quinine and Coreopsis. Even a few purple coneflowers were starting to bloom.
Rode south on Lincoln. Thought about the treasures of the Idea Garden and Japan House but did not stop.
Turned west on Windsor. It was so very cloudy. Was not feeling so very sharp today. Rhododendron was smooth, but I was feeling some strain here and there–the bike was not quite “disappearing.” Felt tired, actually. But knew it would get better. And already still did like the speed.
Continued west past First Street to the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration. There was quite a bit of alien crown vetch, sweet clover, and poison hemlock, but also spiderwort, a little Penstemon, and foliage of those lovely lead plants (Amphora canescens), under the
sign. The flowers are something to anticipate.
Then rode back to First Street and South, enjoying the speed. The housing developments stretched southward. Along the west side of the road near the southern end of them was a prairie garden with lots of purple Baptisia australis (presumably the same species as that lone specimen at Meadowbrook) and lots of cup plants.
Enjoyed the wide openness of the farm fields with mostly soil still evident. It’s been a cool, wet spring, and planting has been delayed in many areas. Note the vigorous specimen of poison hemlock (Conium maculatum, which is appears to be having a bumper year) on the edge.
In one field were a lot of pigeons, and behind them, a fair number of geese.
Noticed some bones that seemed to be in the process of becoming part of the road.
Rode as far as County Road 18 and turned around. Was really hoping it wouldn’t start to rain here; was on the edge of feeling cold.
Near First and Windsor was a clear specimen of wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), an introduced species that resembles the native
golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea –so fun to say that name). Looked like the most obvious differences were the thicker stem and more ruffled leaves of the wild parsnip.
On the way home cut over to Oak Street, on which was a lovely prairie garden, in front of a place labelled, “Indoor Climate Research and Training.” Spiderwort were abundant here, and also there were a good number of golden Alexanders. Got a careful shot of some to
compare to the wild parsnip.
As expected, I did feel wonderful at the end of the ride. Just love, love the extra light this time of year, clouds and fatigue notwithstanding. Now to get a little farther out of town!