Wednesday 20 August 2014. A Few Clouds of Fog and Prevailing Cream Gentians

It was 66 degrees F and mostly clear as I rolled Rhododendron out of the garage for a trip to Meadowbrook Park.

It was a pretty usual trip until I got close to Windsor Road, where there was a rather discrete blanket, one cloud’s worth, of fog blowing in from the south.

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Rode through a heavy cloud, then was out in the clear, then could see another cloud moving north. A good example of fog as clouds on the ground.

Stopped at the “wonky Christmas tree” because it anchored a spiderweb, made visible by the fog that had passed through and condensed on its threads.

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Sped over the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek, then came back to peek at the faint red spike of cardinal flowers upstream.

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Must devote a trip to spending time with them up close.

Noticed the big bluestem grass was in bloom, with its rows of delicately dangling stamens.

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Always when I see the big bluestem flowers my brain plays the part of the Brahms German Requiem that goes: “Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras, und alle Herrlichkeit des Menschen, wie, des Grases Blumen.” (“All flesh is as grass, and all the goodness of men like the flowers of grass.”)

Had planned to trek to the middle of the prairie to see the royal catchfly but got caught, as it were, by the dew-defined spiderwebs strung up in the grasses.

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Was feeling like I’ve missed a lot of the unique progress of the prairie this year, which prompted a song of the middle-aged (grown up but not yet old) Crosby, Stills, and Nash: “And there’s so much time to make up, everywhere you turn, time we have wasted on the way. So much water moving underneath the bridge…”
Which helped me to let go of the plan to be with the red flowers today.

Noticed the great abundance of cream gentians,

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in the old places (e.g., near the Market statue, below the Freyfogel Overlook, and knew they were thick along the soft path) and also in places I don’t remember seeing them, like closer to the southwestern corner of the park.

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Close examination of the plants revealed that for almost every one the tips had been nipped off.

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Almost seemed like this removal of the tip stimulated the growth of the remaining buds. Seemed like a win/win: the herbivores had something to eat and the plants went on to prosper.

Saw a lovely “bouquet” against the mist, including milkweed with large green pods (with milkweed bugs but no monarch caterpillars I could find), old yellow coneflowers, Monarda, rosinweed, and, not unattractive in this arrangement, the ubiquitous giant ragweed.

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Got a shot of a bush clover with a lot of brown flowers.

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Love how bush clover, though never especially spectacular, looks distinctive and handsome in every stage of its life, even its aging and decay. Good to contemplate as the summer winds down toward autumn.

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