Monday 29 September 2014. Monday Morning Mushroom Report

It was 63 degrees F, or somewhere around there this morning at about 8:15.

Made a special trip on my way to work this morning to see the massive mushroom appearance under the Race Street spruces.

This is the third day in a row that I’ve gone to look at this incredible wonder, something, on a smaller scale, like the Grand Canyon, or what I might think about on my deathbed as something I was grateful to have been alive to see.

Today, there were more mushrooms that were open more fully,

and, it seemed, more larger ones,

as well as plenty of medium-sized round-capped ones

and semi-amorphous ones just emerging from the ground.

There were also some really big, shiny, darker-colored, round caps partly visible under the ground cover under the spruces at the south end of the planting.

Really wanted to stop people (especially a group with a young child) on the street to show them, but knew they might feel harassed by a stranger urging them to look under some trees at mushrooms, even if they would have appreciated what they saw. Alas!

Hope to follow the life of the mushroom “colony” and see how it changes over the next several days.

Sunday 28 September 2014. Mushrooms Part 2, and a Little More Fall Color

This morning at 7 (yoga first; think I’m starting to get the hang of practice before cycling) it was 54 degrees F. Not counting the few con trails, the sky was about perfectly clear.

First destination this morning was, of course, the mushroom explosion under the Race Street spruces I discovered yesterday. 20140928-084119.jpg
A lot of the caps had opened and faded in color, but there were plenty round ones
small, barely formed ones, and everything in between. 20140928-084544.jpg
They were abundant and still emerging!20140928-084638.jpg
Also stumbled on two other species: a low brown one 20140928-084747.jpg
And several with pointed cream and rough-textured light brown caps. 20140928-084911.jpg
Looks like these visitors from another world will be here for a few days more, at least. I hope whoever else might discover them is careful and respectful when they view the mushrooms; they are so easily damaged.

Wanted to ride out Washington Street (and did for a while, where I got a shot of a little fall color
and stopped very briefly–what restraint!–at Weaver Park for a snapshot of the late-September putative buffalo-wallow.

at least to Cottonwood, but Washington Street on the east side of High Cross Road was torn up, quite thoroughly. 20140929-155248.jpg
So, once again, with less time than I needed to get very far, decided to cut the trip short and just check out the old possum bones at the I-74 bridge 20140929-155530.jpg (a jawbone with canine tooth still was visible) and head back on the lovely bike lane on Main Street, where there was a tree dramatically starting to turn color.

Stopped at the Quaker meeting place because in front of it there still were these beautiful huge pink (not native, I don’t think) hibiscus blooming.

Stopped also to get a “portrait” of an ear of ripe corn before harvest: an icon of central Illinois in the fall.


Saturday 27 September 2014. Abundance: Mushrooms and Bottle Gentians

It was 57 degrees F this morning at 7:15, the sky with some wide but thin, scattered clouds.

Again got a little pre-dawn yoga practice in. Felt a little sad to still be inside while a bit of fiery sunrise was visible through a window, but the practice was good and soon was heading on Rhododendron to Meadowbrook park.

Made a stop to observe and enjoy the white irises– 20140927-083026.jpg
they’ve been out a long time for a fluke, if fluke they be.

Also got some apple photos at “my” tree. It’s borne a good crop this year, good-sized apples, too. 20140927-083318.jpg
I picked up a couple from the street from which to cut away the bad parts and have a few bites of heavenly fresh apple.

Passing the grove of spruce trees a little farther south on Race Street, did a quick check for mushrooms–it’s a place where I’ve seen them before. And there they were today, oh, yeah!
At first I thought there was garbage under the trees, but it was mushrooms, a whole lot of them, hundreds,20140927-084105.jpg
more mushrooms growing in one place than I’ve ever seen in my life! And they were not just plain grey or even white ones but the very graphically attractive kind! There were a few mature individuals with open caps and gills showing,

20140927-121044.jpg medium-sized ones with round, shiny orange-red caps with textured spots,
and lots of little blob-like suggestions of mushrooms just emerging through the ground.

It was a little other-worldly: like preparation for a massive fairy convention, or a mini-alien invasion. Who could have known they would all appear, like mushrooms do, seemingly out of nowhere, in no time? I felt priveliged to be present for this wonder. It served as a prefect transition from the inward experience of yoga to the outward one of observing nature.

Then headed on to Meadowbrook.

Stopped at the rabbit-statue bridge where I heard a rather large splash but couldn’t see what made it. 20140927-084420.jpg
Guess it could have been walnuts. Or perhaps a turtle.

Rode directly to the Marker statue and found, first the spider in its web in front of a bunch of bottle gentian blooms,
and then then lots more blooming gentians close by!
Looked like it would be a good bottle gentian year!

Since only last Sunday there has been a lot of fall color appearing around town! Saw, for example, fall-colored poison ivy on a fence along Windsor road, which (Windsor Road, that is) was in the process of being repaired.

This year it seems like many leaves are falling as soon as they change color, or even before. The leaves of most trees are still green, but some are almost all yellow.

Really hope to get out and witness as much as possible of this year’s fall display. Who knows what signs of abundance, at this time of harvest and gathering, might reveal themselves?

Sunday 21 September 2014. Bottle Gentians and the Beginning of Fall Color

At 5:00 this morning it was 70 degrees F; by 6:30 it was down to 61, the sky clear and the sun beginning to rise. Did not want to add another to the growing list of unfinished posts, but the bottle gentians at Meadowbrook Park were coming into bloom, and how could one not go out into such a beautiful morning? And not share it with whoever might check on Velo du Jour?

So gave myself orders just to go directly to the Marker statue site and get a few shots of the gentians as they are at this stage of their bloom.

Successfully resisted the still-blooming white irises and ever-reddening apples on Race Street, but had to stop to document the beginning of fall color on a dogwood, I believe, near Race Street.


At the Marker statue site, I looked a little to the left of last year’s patch of bottle gentians, and found some!

There even was a garden spider in its web, installed strategically, it seemed, above the gentian plant.

Then remembered seeing this arrangement four years ago and wondering how successfully the Meadowbrook gentians get pollinated: a bee has to come and force the ever-closed flower open. Maybe the spider knows this and dines on would-be pollinators, preventing them from completing their task. Or maybe enough of them get around the trap….

Looked for and found quite a few plants!

The flowers were smaller than I remembered, many looking “stressed.”

But there were still a lot of buds; it will be interesting to see what happens with
the rest of the bloom.


Saturday 20 September 2014. Late Flowers from a Short Ride

It was 57 degrees F under mostly clear skies this morning at 7:20 after finishing yoga practice (and preparing to teach my afternoon class). The plan for these shortening days is to practice till it gets light and then go out on the bike. But it can take almost as much discipline to finish practice as to start it! So some daylight got away from me and the trip had to be short.

Funny how diffrent it is to ride right after practice–the outside world seems a little far away. Must take a while to shift the focus from inside to outside. Looking back I wonder if that slight removal from the outside could have anything to do with Pratyahara.

Anyway, limited the trip to the lovely little prairie planting behind the Natural Resources Building on the U of I campus.

On the way stopped at the bell tower on the south campus that my family and I refer to as “Barad Dur” (from the Lord of the Rings. Where Sauron lived). Remembered there were “pseudo-gentians” there, actually the seed pods of peonies.

Wasn’t easy to get a photo with the tower and the plants.

The little prairie garden still had plenty of booms: New England asters,

partridge pea, wild quinine, little bit of prairie clover.

There was a kind of goldenrod I need to look up (and then did; pretty easily identifiable as Solidago speciosa, showy goldenrod) which was full of bumblebees that moved slowly with the morning chill.

Also there was plenty of heath aster (Aster ericoides),

a lovely plant I haven’t noticed at Meadowbrook but which was abundant at Loda Cemetery Prairie last week (not a bike trip, alas, and saw no prairie gentians there, either). Loved its miniature flowers and miniature leaves.

Really, need to get out in the daylight, the warmth, and the color while it’s still here. And then, not fret too much and enjoy every morsel of the outside I do get to witness.

Thursday 18 September 2014. Dry Prairie Plants, No Bottle Gentians.

Today I had a slight gap in the afternoon schedule and headed for Meadowbrook Park at 3:00. It was 72 degrees F, the sky clear.

Tried to limit my goal to finding bottle gentians near the soft path through the middle of the prairie, which would be dry at this time of day: even if the grass was really tall and leaned over the path, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting wet and freezing. (Actually, I think maybe I’ll try bringing an umbrella next time I go in the morning.)

But couldn’t resist stopping to get a shot of the reddening (and some already rotting) apples on “my” tree.


Also, almost to Meadowbrook, got a photo of the already quite completely harvested cornfield.

Also noticed a nearby ginkgo tree really laden with fruit.

It’s going to be stinky around there pretty soon.

Parked Rhododendron at the rack by the organic garden plots and walked to the little wooden bridge over McCullough Creek, which babbled over some tree roots, even thought not far down the water seemed still.

At the beginning if the soft path was a tangle of grape vine with some little ripe grapes dangling.

Tried one; it was quite good: tart and sweet, flavorful.

Not far down were cream gentians, many still in good shape.

20140919-072103.jpg This was another place I where hadn’t seen them before.

Saw a nice little clump of asters, plain white ones like I’ve bypassed many times. Believed they were Aster pilosus, frost aster. Liked the comments at the end of the linked page.

On down the path, the grasses were really tall, and they leaned into the path,

but since they were dry it was a minor inconvenience.

Looked carefully for bottle gentians but with no success, alas. Need to come back when there is more time.

Wad surprised to see a little nest in a goldenrod plant, a little below eye level.

Peeked in over the top and saw a black beetle with longish legs and some smaller insects, i.e., no birds. Did eventually make out a tiny, dry avian skeleton, alas. What happened?

On the way home noticed the first tinge of red on the ornamental maples along Clark-Lindsey Village, announcing the coming of fall.


Thursday 11 September 2014. Dear Late Bloomers

Noticed the date of this trip–two huge towers disappeared thirteen years ago today; thousands (millions?!) of people have died from war and starvation since then, and life goes on….

Well, I confess that it’s actually a couple of weeks since I took this ride and can’t remember the temperature or the exact time, though it was pretty close to sunrise, and of course, the photos are of Meadowbrook Park.

McCullough Creek was high after recent rain. Near the rabbit-statue bridge, walnuts were evident in the walnut trees.

Was glad to get a shot of the goldenrods on the south side of the bridge; it’s a good spot to visit and revisit and notice how the scene changes.

The lovely pink halberd-leafed rose mallow was still blooming. I think the relatively wet summer was good for it.

There were slow-moving (with the chill) insects in the stiff goldenrod. Had they spent the night there?

Near the Marker statue were the year’s first blue blooms of bottle gentians! Was happy, as always, to see them, the swan song of the prairie.

Nearby was a nice dense patch of Bidens, another yellow sign of the end of summer.

Saw a delicate stalk of fresh Gaura flowers, one of the species, like compass plants, that were a relative rarity this summer. They were with some holdout Heliopsis, which seemed, in contrast, to have done well this year.

Felt glad to have these late-blooming flowers to ease the transition to the letting-go of fall.

Sunday 14 September 2014. Waning Summer

Did some yoga practice before this morning’s ride and didn’t get on the road till 7, when it still was only 44 degrees F. The sky was clear except for some eastern cloud remnants. The familiar route felt different right after practice–yoga and cycling certainly different kinds of activities.

Nevertheless did not miss stopping at “my” apple tree and getting a shot of a cluster of good-sized, quite red apples still up in the tree with the moon behind them,

as well as ripe and past-ripe appes in the street. They always remind me of the painter Cezanne. Though I don’t think Cezanne was fascinated by their decomposition.

At Meadowbrook saw the sun rise over the mist-softened landscape, like in a story book, or a dream.

The late-blooming rose mallow was in tight bud.

Found a little bunch of asters surrounded by goldenrod, an icon of late summer.

But it seemed it was harder to find this icon than in years past; the asters seem more scarce.

Near the Marker statue, the bottle gentians were really in bloom.

Didn’t attempt to determine how wide an area they covered, but was happy for now to see several plants. Noticed that this year they slightly overlapped the bloom of their cousins the cream gentians.

Nearby, among the yellow Bidens flowers, was a garden spider in its web with a wrapped prey.

The base of the statue seemed to convey a similar theme: death is always close to life.

Heading toward home (on the cool side of comfortable but not miserably cold) along the north edge of Meadowbrook Park noticed lots of sweetly twittering goldfinches. Stopped to observe them (no zoom, alas)

and saw that most of their sound seemed to be coming from several apparent fledglings, vibrating their wings and clamoring to their parents for money, I mean food. It was another sign of the passing summer. Reminded me that even birds can be reluctant to grow up and to be patient (even while sticking to those boundaries) with my own fledgeling(s).

Sunday 7 September 2014. Nature Lovely, Wet, and Cold

It was 52 degrees F and mostly clear this morning at 6:45. My wonderful cycling jacket was just a little insufficient to keep me quite comfortable, but tried to think warm thoughts on the way to Meadowbrook Park.

Peeked at the banks of Davis Creek just upstream of the rabbit-statue bridge; no cardinal flowers were evident.

There was mist over the ground that was condensing heavily on every surface.

Took a close-up of the sneeze weed growing near where cardinal flowers used to be;
it’s been a couple-three years already since I saw any cardinal flowers there. Like sneeze weed for its comical name and shape that makes me think of clowns.

Wondered if this grass might be something other than big bluestem.

Caught the delicate, dangling flower parts of the Indian grass. So it has a later bloom than big bluestem, apparently.

Wanted to go to the middle of the prairie on the soft path, the entrance to which was lined with burgeoning common ragweed covered with dew, to see whether there were any royal catchfly flowers left at all.

The tall big bluestem and Indian grass was heavy with dew and leaned far into the path.

It was kind of nice to be brushed by the wet grass when there wasn’t quite so much of it and it wasn’t so cold, but now I was downright chilly, and getting distracted from beholding the full beauty of the dewey prairie morning.

Did, however, manage to catch the beaded tops of the ryegrass,

a garden spider in its densely woven web,

and stiff goldenrod, which were in full bloom and hosting beetles and tree crickets.

Did not see any bottle gentians near the path, where they were last year, but there were a lot of cream gentians, both past bloom and still rather fresh.

Saw no remaining royal catchfly, though the place where they’d been was rather densely overgrown with goldenrod, and wet, and cold: i.e., not appealing to go explore.

Felt just really really cold as I made my way back to the paved path; surely the ice bucket challenge (immediately after which, I suppose, one dries off with a fluffy towel and puts on dry clothes) could not be more uncomfortable! I need to send a check to the ALS Foundation or the Ferguson Boys’ and Girls’ Club, or some place like that, since I told my nephew I’d accept the challenge (before, of course, I knew how to go about it).

Noticed as I hurried back how a dewey stalk of big bluestem was just a little taller than a dewey tall Coreopsis.

Felt a little disappointed in myself for this, but just wanted to get back now and get warm. Have to come back when the prairie is dry.

Saturday 6 September 2014. Ending Cardinal Flowers, Beginning Bottle Gentians

It was 63 degrees F and cloudy this morning at 7:15, heading out on Rhododendron to Meadowbrook Park. Was beyond delighted to be able to squeeze a little ride into this busy day, especially after having stayed home a couple days with the virus that was going around. Also was finally caught up on old posts and ready for a new one.

Had kept my eye on the strange irises next to the apple tree on Race Street;

there was a second stem of fresh blooms. Not bad for irises in September.

As for the apples, there were plenty, both in the tree and on the ground.

Rode on to Meadowbrook wanting to see the last of the cardinal flowers and perhaps the first of the bottle gentians.

Just before I got there, noticed that the vigorous corn that had been growing in the field at the northwest corner of Race and Windsor had been completely harvested, or at least removed. Quite early, I think, and also seems like the plants were still green.

Took the semi-mandatory shot of McCullough Creek from the rabbit-statue bridge. Have really gotten to like observing the subtle differences from
one visit to the next.

Saw a hint of red upstream on the bank of Davis Creek, suggesting there still were a few cardinal flowers abloom. Knew it would probably take some serious bush-whacking to reach them, but this likely was my last opportunity of the season and went forth into the riparian vegetation. Was rewarded with the sight of the last few survivors.

Was sad to see them decline, but at least I’d seen them close to their peak. Was grateful to have been in their magnificent presence for another turn of the seasons.

South of the rabbit-statue bridge, quite a few of the goldenrod flowers looked past bloom.

Expected to see a great mass of yellow goldenrod, but was kind of sad to have missed the peak of the bloom, mourning not what was past but what I never got to see. That or it just was less spectacular than previous years. But then saw plenty of them still in bud and early bloom: probably the bloom was just more drawn out, not so synchronous this time. Oh, how past experience can make it hard to behold the present without bias!

Then made my way directly to the Marker statue, and down among the grass in front of it found the bottle gentians in bud, just about exactly where they’d been for the past four years that I’ve been observing them.

Like so much that these last-blooming flowers are so hidden and so exquisite.

Time was running out and so turned right back around. On the way back noticed cream gentians (in a place where I hadn’t seen them last year) that were still rather fresh-looking.

It was almost the brief time of overlap of the cream and bottle gentian blooms.

The time was short, but was more than pleased with this day’s offerings.