Friday 21 June 2013. A Sunrise Ride and Walk on the Summer Solstice

Got out just about 5 this morning, not before, but it was ok. The temperature was 70 degrees F, with a few small clouds floating above the northeast horizon.
Avoided the Race Street construction by veering to the east, but got back on shortly.
Was eager to witness the summer solstice sunrise at Meadowbrook Park and to park Rhododendron and walk a little bit in the middle of the prairie on the “soft” path.
It’s been harder to get a view of the sunrise from the southwest edge of the big loop where I’ve gotten shots in the past–the vegetation is growing more thickly there. Did get a view of pre-dawn light at the small bridge over Davis Creek, farther east.

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Tried to move on and focus on the walk part of the trip, but did stop for a rapidly bolting (new!) compass plant

20130707-211737.jpgand to check the lead plant, the tiny flower buds of which were just beginning to open.

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Also caught a hen mallard and her six almost adult-sized ducklings just passing downstream under the Windsor/Vine bridge over McCullough Creek.

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Went to check the chewed alders, glad for the clear markers (a steel sculpture just the other side of the path and a distinct wooden beaver-carved sculpture) of their location. The growth of vegetation around the site since the winter was just amazing. The chew-marks have gotten really dark and obscure.

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Caught a view of the rising solstice sun-disc just as the path branched, the Hickman wildflower walk to the west and some river birches (I think) and a nice assortment of prairie flowers to the east.

20130707-212615.jpgThe longest day of 2013 begins.
The Penstemon in their decline no longer were quite the visually dominant element in the landscape. Purple coneflowers, black-eyed Susan, Baptisia, rattlesnake master, and false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) blooms were becoming more abundant. There were still more species in bud. The green was thick, the plants so crowded. The word “competition” occurred to me.

Locked Rhododendron to the rack and proceeded to the “soft path.” Noticed crossing McCullough Creek that the deer bones were still there in on the bottom in the water.

At the beginning of the soft path were grape vines with small bunches of little green grapes.

20130707-214810.jpgThe scene made by the path and how it curved into the
morning light, with a curtain of grapes on the side made me think of waking up and going outside after sleeping in a vacation cottage. It was a sweet morning.

Noticed that the walnut trees to the west of the path were already bearing good-sized fruit.

Saw a common milkweed with its developing spheres of blooms, the first pink star-shaped ones showing, illuminated by the new summer sun.

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Got a shot of the new player, purple coneflower, increasing among the old Penstemon and spiderwort.

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Welcome summer!

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