Sunday 8 September 2013. Of Blue Gentians, Milkweed, and Semi-Unconditional Joy

Been thinking a lot about the concept, (the possibility?) of “unconditional joy.”
Not that I feel so very close to it, but I do consider Velo du Jour not totally unrelated to it. The idea is to use the little time rolling on two wheels to be open to whatever comes up. It happens partially…

This morning, for example, at 6:18 and 68 degrees F, under thick but defined clouds, was ready to take a modest ride on Rhododendron, the road bike, to Meadowbrook Park with as little fuss as possible, so as to be ready for whatever would greet me.

Well, the air was about perfectly comfortable! But then, Rhododendron started making squeaking noises, from the pedal crank, I think, which reminded me of my own joints with their little but annoying aches, that, despite yoga, insist on keeping me company.

Went to see another of the last days of the cardinal flower. Good to the last red bloom!
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Farther along the path, stopped to get a shot of the common sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), which looked so lovely as a foil for the cardinal flowers when they bloomed in this area. (The last time I saw the cardinal flowers here was 2011.)
20130908-085015.jpg Their spherical centers with multi-lobed petals at the base make them look like heads with Elizabethan collars (not the veterinary kind).

The goldenrod bloom, accented with thistles, was gathering momentum.

Saw a group of goldfinches, with fledglings begging from their parents. As the parent of a teenager and a young adult, that image really speaks to me. They made sounds that were not unlike that of my squeaking bike.

Thought it might be time for the bottle gentians to bloom, or maybe it was a little early. It always seems so unlikely to find them, in this harsh, waning time of year. And they grow so low amid so much tall grass. But looked near the Marker statue, where I’ve seen them every year since 2010, and voila! The little buds definitely showed some blue.
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Hooray!

As usual, felt pressed for time, but some little purple-blue flowers along the path close to the playground caught my eye. They were a kind of aster, I think.

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rode over the Windsor/ Vine bridge; saw at least one frog and a lot of little fish concentrated in the unconnected pool of McCullough Creek at that location.

At the other side of the bridge were >20130919-165407.jpg</a sawtooth sunflower (Helianthus grosserseratus)Which occurred in other places and are not unusual, but do love their intense yellow flowers atop their tall, dark, elongate-leafed stems, so here is a shot of some.

Actually was feeling only moderate contentment, being in a hurry and all. Would not call it joy, exactly.

Rode homeward along McCullough Creek, on the “small loop.”
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A milkweed with lots of pods, including one starting to release downy seeds, caught my eye. Saw other milkweeds with damage from aphids and milkweed bugs; not as welcome as another consumer of the plant: monarch butterfly larvae. “Where have they been?“, I wondered.

THEN, actually saw a good-sized Monarch butterfly caterpillar, chewing on the petiole of a milkweed leaf. Could actually hear the munching.
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This was a small but joyful thing, which was a nice state in which to ride home. The joy was not quite unconditional, but maybe joy about small things is a step in that direction.

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