Sunday 15 September 2013. Goldenrod, Bottle Gentians, and the Limits of Nature-Love

At last! Another sunrise ride!

It was 52 degrees at 6:15 this morning. The sky seemed clear, but closer inspection revealed thin clouds, and the horizon was streaked with pink, though it shifted and faded rapidly.

So off to Meadowbrook Park on Rhododendron I went.

Wore a light long-sleeved shirt under my bright orange tee shirt and thought it would be enough, but was very glad I brought the (inconspicuous blue) fleece jacket: the biker’s breeze chilled things down a lot! Need to get a brightly colored jacket.

After coasting full speed over the rabbit bridge and making the turn without hitting the brakes (!?! there must be something slowing it down that I should investigate) came back to see if there were any cardinal flowers at all still blooming. Had to look a little while, but there they were, the last very few! 20130915-083811.jpg
Was happy to see them, even though they were the last I’d see till next year. Sometimes one can be satisfied with one’s (in this case quite generous!) portion. Santosha.

The sun rose, and and a con-trail bisected the sky, making it look especially wide.

And the goldenrod, the common and the less common stiff goldenrod, were in full yellow bloom. They are so very photogenic, especially with thistles and asters for purple accents. Could have stayed all day photographing their various angles and groupings.

Wondered whether the Gaura were done blooming, and just then saw a nice spray of them; they were fresh and very light pink.

Checked near the Marker statue for bottle gentians (Gentiana andrewsii). They were there, with small blue flowers,

20130916-091929.jpgeven with the recent hot, dry weather. It’s always a thrill and a comfort to see them, the prairie’s annual swan-song. Saw plants in at least two spots; one was very close to a cream gentian. Didn’t look too extensively for more plants, contented myself with these for now.

Walked on the “soft” path to see if there were bottle gentians in the middle of the prairie. (Found a few there last year.) didnt’t lock Rhododendron but just walked it along with me. Figured (hoped) the “No Bikes” sign referred to riding them.

Saw the ripe seed pods of the tick trefoil.


Here, also, the goldenrods were lovely in the morning sun.

Whatever else was fading, the goldenrod picked up the slack and made the scene lively and beautiful.

Cream gentian blooms still were abundant, but some were already brown, though still shapely and with green foliage.

Didn’t see any royal catchfly. Didn’t search too diligently, but was pretty sure it was done blooming for the year.
I was ready for it; the letting go was not too painful.

Thought I’d allowed time to linger this morning, but alas, already it was time to go. Made me think of the beginning of The Sound of Music, which I loved as a child. “My day in the hills [prairie, that is] has come to an end….” (Actually, I think only the Broadway version with Mary Martin starts that way, but this is better than nothing.) Felt like Maria Von Trapp (though she wasn’t Von Trapp at that point) in the Alps, at one with nature.

But then as I hurried down the path, my way became obstructed with tall grass and goldenrod leaning into the middle.

20130918-093030.jpg Which would be ok for a little while, but it continued on a ways and got to be rather unpleasant and claustrophobic. Made me think that we nature-lovers take our paths for granted but that they actually are rare in nature. Also, started to worry about whether there were ticks about (as there were, alas, when my husband took his class to beautiful Bell Smith Springs and other sites in Southern Illinois). They certainly would find me if there were. Did Maria Von Trapp ever worry about ticks? Felt a little disappointed in myself for being distracted from the rapture of the sun on the goldenrod by some tall grass in the path. Reminded me of the complex relationship people have with nature. We can project our ideals on nature just like we do on other people. And then, even those of us who profess to love it can be ready to retreat when it threatens our safety, or even our comfort. Not shameful, exactly, but perhaps sobering.

On the way back noticed deer bones in the dry bed of McCullough Creek.

Was glad, once again, to have realized the possibility of this ride, this encounter with nature and with myself.

Riding home in the comfortable air contemplated the word “equanimity.”


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