Sunday 30 March 2014. Frost and Sun

At 6 this morning could see Venus through the kitchen window, the sky beginning to lighten. By departure time (6:20) there was plenty of light, but still did not miss the appearance of the sun-disc over Meadowbrook Park! The temperature was 27 degrees F and the air was mostly calm. The scenery outside was whitened by a light coating of frost.

Had to be careful on the way to Meadowbrook of the many potholes on Race Street, even in the bike lane!

It was not hard to find examples!

Must say it was obvious from the newer dollops of asphalt in them that the city was trying not to leave gaping holes in the streets.

Still, it’s been hard to keep up. Looks like a lot of construction coming this summer.

At Meadowbrook, the grass and trees were lightly frosted. As I stopped at the open area near the “double sunrise” statue,” the actual sun-disc began to appear.

Stopped at the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek to photograph the stick-(not log-) jam downstream.

Also, looking upstream, got the sun coming up over the confluence of Davis and McCullough creeks.

Heard the woodpeckers, red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows at what sounded to me like, or at least made me think of, joyful work.

The changing sunlight on the frosted prairie was compelling, really spring-like in its energy, despite the temperature.

Was aware of being perched on an edge: knew that this elaborate display would very soon disappear with the quickly rising temperature.

The prairie with its frost did not make me think “prostrate” today; the frost drew attention to the tops of the surviving vertical stems.

Saw quite a few deer in the middle of the prairie, moving around. They made more sound than usual; maybe frosted grass is noisier.

After the loop of Meadowbrook continued east on Windsor Road and south on Philo to Old Church Road and Yankee Ridge! Felt a strong urge to get some miles in, now that the time with light is increasing and the roads are snow- and ice-free.

Noticed once again how quiet it is going up Yankee Ridge on Old Church. Stopped at the top to get a photo of the frosted pre-planting landscape below with the sun rising above it.

It was good to be back at this special place, this subtle vantage point. Felt like the gateway to spring and to longer rides!


Sunday 23 March 2014. Waiting Patiently

At 6:45 this morning it was 27 degrees F, with plenty of daylight, though only a half hour earlier it was dark, the sky full of thick (“rolling” came to mind ) clouds. There was a pretty consistent noticeable wind from the north, which made the trip to Meadowbrook Park easier. Still, it was more wintry than spring-like, and was glad to have knitted new thumbs for my glove-mittens. Also, it was nice to have filled Rhododendron’s tires (with a new Joe Blow Presta/Schrader compatible pump!)–really is easier to ride when they’re properly inflated!

Was interested in riding more and stopping less this morning, which the cold and grey reinforced.

Did stop, though, to document that the oak trees along Race Street near Windsor Road had fewer still-clinging leaves than they did last year at this time.

There definitely was little of spring’s invitation to shed the comfort of winter’s “swaddling” wraps this morning. Not that I minded, really. Was a little proud of my acclimation to this year’s genuine winter.

The birds (red-winged blackbirds, woodpeckers, and song sparrows, that I could tell) at Meadowbrook, however, didn’t seem fazed by the temperature and were about their spring activities in earnest. Could hear them well from the rabbit statue bridge over McCullough Creek, especially the woodpeckers, several different individuals. The creek at the bridge was full of water.

Just downstream was a “stick-jam” that probably contributed to the high water level.

Got a wintry shot of trees along Davis Creek.

Farther down the path, looked for evidence of lichens, but saw them only on sticks on the ground! Strongly suspect the work of hungry deer.

Have never really observed the seasonal (or other) patterns of lichen growth, but it’s obviously not limited by the same factors as the flowering plants of the prairie.

The curve in the path by the Marker statue made a moody scene with the rolling clouds and the border of bare tree branches.

Today really noticed how the grass was flattened down in the middle of the prairie; made me think of the word “prostrate,” and also how bad it feels in those episodes when it seems like our children need vastly more than we have to give.

Rode homeward into the same stiff wind that eased the trip out. But it was good work, the kind that is a weapon against despair and that teaches patience. No need to fret; spring will come.

Sunday 16 March 2014. March Wind

As soon as I woke up this morning could hear the wind; “howling” was the word that came to mind.

At 6 the sky still was quite dark, but by 6:45 it was plenty light, mostly cloudy but with a rosy glow just above the eastern horizon. The temperature was 30 degrees F.

Destination was my favorite, Meadowbrook Park, but felt this morning like going by a different route and headed south on Vine Street.

Stopped at Blair Park to photograph the ash tree with the “bifurcated” trunk,

20140316-082431.jpg which, so far, is still there. It looks like work has been done (cabling) to maintain it. Maybe it will escape the ravages of the emerald ash borer, and maybe not. Alas, life gives no guarantees.

Judging from the paths of the flying late-fallen oak leaves, the wind was coming from the east, or the northeast. A wind from the east always throws me off; our weather generally comes from the west and moves to the east, with some influence from the north or the south, so isn’t that backward? What happens to make an east wind, some kind of back-up? Of course, tornadoes come from air in rotation…. That season is coming; hopefully there won’t be too much to say about it! Well, today’s wind still made a lot of sound in the distance but wasn’t interfering so much with my progress at this point.

It was lovely to see Meadowbrook pop in front of my eyes at the end of Vine Street. Decided to take the big loop in the reverse of my usual direction. Funny how going the other way on a familiar path can make it such a different experience.

First stop was the large cottonwood near the Windsor/Vine bridge, to observe lichens. Lots of orange today.

Took a photo of McCullough Creek above the bridge. The water was quite clear; the surface ruffled some by the wind.

Stopped for a shot of Baptisia pods rattling in the wind.

They are especially eye- (and ear-) catching amidst the flattened prairie grass. The grass in the middle of the prairie was especially flat: had it been that

trampled by deer or was it the way the snow had piled on it?

The red-winged blackbirds were active and vocal all along Davis Creek and out into the nearby prairie.

Surprised a small group of mallard ducks under the rabbit statue bridge as I approached. Alas, they quickly swam upstream and did not pose for me.

McCullough/Davis creeks were full of water.

Felt the brunt of the wind on the way home, though it was intermittent, if gusty. It was the kind of wind that could suddenly knock a cyclist off her bike, so tried to brace for it. Felt protected and warm by the appropriate clothing, and with no particular aches or pains, nor any noticeable fatigue. It was good to be out this morning, when I felt like a match for the March wind.

Sunday 9 March 2014. Spring Forward!

Today was the day we gave back the hour we gained in the fall, thereby initiating the season of “Daylight Savings Time.” Do they do this in other countries? I’m not convinced its benefits outweigh the disruption it causes, but perhaps the awareness it brings is a benefit. Maybe it’s a good example of how pleasure (“fall back”) and pain (“spring forward”) are inextricably linked. Or at least that time, unlike money but like matter and energy, is, at least some sense, conserved.

So got started a little late, according to the clock, almost 7; the sun also was conveniently “behind schedule.” The temperature was 27 degrees F, the sky clear.

Destination for this time-limited trip was Meadowbrook Park! Was eager as always, even more today having missed last week and the streets being, for all practical purposes, completely clear, not counting the potholes.

The first messages from life outside my front door were the earnest songs of cardinals and a faint but distinct scent of skunk. Don’t remember this as a sign of spring, but maybe it has to do with the skunks’ pent up longing for spring in this hard winter. The smell got stronger as I pedaled southward but then faded again as I continued toward Meadowbrook. So the skunk is in the neighborhood! Heard somewhere that “skunks are the new squirrels,” though fortunately they aren’t nearly as good at climbing or leaping.

Got a shot of the apple tree and its few remaining,

tiny, very weathered apples. Also noticed plenty larger, not so far-gone ones on the ground. Soon it will be time to let them be and watch for new growth.

A nice large red sun disc was visible above the horizon just as I got to Meadowbrook. Got a shot of it behind the metal sculpture of two suns rising (which makes me think: “sunrise on Tattooine,” though with the actual sun it was more like a threesome.)

McCullough/Davis creeks were high,

20140314-133735.jpgwith a partial skin of ice. Could hear from the rabbit statue bridge the sound of many gathered red-winged blackbirds, practicing all the variations of their call, all together, like an orchestra warming up, when you can hear different instruments playing little phrases from different parts of the piece at the same time.

Got a shot of one of the RWBBs at the top of a tree, greeting the rising sun.

The temperature was not especially warm, but something in the air felt stirring, a little exciting, hinting at the irrepressible approaching spring, like an adventurous friend inviting conspiracy: “C’mon!” And memories of seasonal wonders beheld in this place awakened and beckoned.

Passed a place where there had been lots of lichens earlier in the winter and noticed they were now much less abundant. Don’t know what governs

the ebb and flow of lichen life, but thought maybe the deer had been eating them.

Was grateful to once again be able to take in the winter prairie and be moved by it. Gave in to the urge to stop and take a photo of weathered Baptisia pods. Thought, “I brake for Baptisia pods.” There’s something compelling about those spikes of dangling halves of empty seed pods that rattle in the wind.

Got a shot of lichens on the trunk of a large cottonwood near the (closed) Windsor/Vine bridge. Seemed like there were more orange ones than earlier in the season. Need to watch one little spot over time, some day.

Feeling eager, though not (yet!) impatient, to greet the spring.