Sunday 26 October 2014. The Last of the Last Bottle Gentians

It was 46 degrees F at 7:30 this morning, the sky clear.

Wanted to get out and ride among fall leaves to the north but knew this was probably my last chance this year to see the Meadowbrook Park bottle gentians.

Remembered that It probably still was not possible to turn on to Windsor Road from Race Street, so took Vine. Had still not fully transitioned my awareness from yoga to cycling mode, but was able to behold and photograph a large, low-branching sugar maple I recalled from a previous trip.

At the Vine Street entrance to Meadowbrook

made a purposeful clockwise foray to the site of the Marker statue. Did stop a couple times on the way to record the dried or drying prairie vegetation, which made me think of the word “attenuated.”

A fair amount of white-petaled frost aster still bloomed, but the white of the goldenrods was about the seed stage.

Near the statue,

did not see any gentians at first; was ready to concede that they were done for this year. But then right in front and near the middle were two small clusters of flowers, somewhat faded but still blue.

Was glad to have this last visit; felt a little sad but able to go on toward the somber cold season with the image of this years’ gentians in memory.

Wondered if the garden spider I’d seen before in its web near some gentian plants would still be there, though figured without flowers there wouldn’t be much spider prey and probably no spider. Was surprised, though, to find its empty web.

Did not make the rest of the loop around the prairie, alas, but did head on the sidewalk along Windsor Road (the repairs on which appeared to be about half-way done) toward Philo Road.

Checked the place on the long fence to the south of the sidewalk where I’d seen thick vines of poison ivy–in previous years they showed some great fall colors. But it looked like someone was on to its luxuriant growth and had applied herbicide.

Later in the day, a lot of leaves would let go of their attachment to the tree branches from which they grew; the blue sky would be full of yellow leaves. How fortunate to be a witness!


Saturday 25 October 2014. Fingerprint: Today’s Fall Color

At 7:45 (?!?) this morning it was 54 degrees F under clear skies.

Got rather a late start (as a newly certified Iyengar yoga teacher :), really have to get that practice in!), so no Meadowbrook, and not even mushrooms!

The imperative today was to get a sample of this year’s flow of the fall colors.

In this year of plentiful rain and mostly (with some exceptions) cool temperatures, the trees so far seem to be taking turns, each with its own color show, i.e. many are still green while others are yellow, red, orange, or a combination of colors.

So had a short ride south on Lincoln Avenue,

just as far as the edge of the U of I Arboretum and Japan House garden, through which the sun was coming up.

Paid special attention to the ginkgo trees, some of which were solid yellow,

others were mostly quite green.

Was happy and grateful to behold this moment of what felt like the peak of fall, this unique color combination that would be different tomorrow.

Monday 20 October 2014. Gradual Decline Decline. Or, How the Mushrooms Go Back to the Soil

At about 9 this morning, after being out of town for four days, went back to see what the population of Amanita muscaria mushrooms under the Race Street spruces looked like.

There were still a few strikingly red-orange, youthful ones,


even some stubby, early ones that looked like they’d be large when mature, though even these were not without some damage,

but more and more they were upside down, notched, halved,

or just collapsed.

But certainly did get to enjoy so many individual mushrooms, and groups of them, through their development.

And would, for a little while longer.

Thursday 16 October 2014. Mushrooms Before a Break

Stopped ever so briefly this morning to check on the mushrooms (Amanita muscaria) before going out of town for a few days.

Some definitely were on the way out. 20141019-230549.jpg
Some were at the peak of maturity, presumably dispersing the spores that would give rise to future mushroom appearances.
Still there were some new ones, brightly colored and spherical,
even some tucked among the older ones.
The mushrooms still were pretty numerous

and some individuals were especially handsome.

Hope to follow their path and appreciate them as long as they’re here.

Tuesday 14 October 2014. Mushrooms and Gentians (Surprise) and Some Fall Color

At about 12:30 this afternoon it was 61 degrees F with a cloudy, like, clouds on clouds, with an occasional gap, sky. Just kind of bolted for Meadowbrook when the opportunity arose; wanted to see what the Marker statue bottle gentians were doing. Of course it meant passing by “mushroom world,” though first zoomed in on a couple of apples (from “my” tree) on the street next to a cloud-reflecting puddle.


The mushrooms (Amanita muscaria) were definitely aging,
some reaching maximal development;

others were starting to fade and dry out

without fully developing.

Still there were a few boldly colored young caps,

even still some proto-mushrooms barely out of the ground.

And here’s one that looked (in shape and size!) a lot like a pie (or, in shape but not size, the “State Farm Center”/U of I Assembly Hall).

Farther along Race Street were green-leafed oak trees just starting to be tinged with yellow.

Did not check to see if the construction on Windsor Road had progressed enough to be able to cross it at Race and detoured to the east at McHenry, where several trees (maples of some kind, I think) had burst into orange.

Meadowbrook Park, which I entered from Vine Street and proceeded by my less commonly followed clockwise route, showed quite a bit of orange, even in the grasses.

Flowers now were few, though not completely absent. Most notable was a stalk of fresh-looking compass plant flowers,

which were uncommon this year during its regular blooming season, as well as a few tall Coreopsis, yellow cone flowers, and still plenty of frost aster. And, of course, hopefully, some bottle gentians.

Checked near the Marker statue, and, yes, the gentians, though showing their age, still were there. So was the garden spider. Amazing that something strung with invisible fibers up in the moving grass would persist for weeks! Hoped that some pollinators had made it past the web to the flowers.

The gentian blooms still were lovely, even as they obviously aged.
Like the idea of that, one reason they are among my very favorite flowers.

Stopped for a shot of the Davis/McCullough creeks confluence from the rabbit bridge. The water was high and quiet. What was slowing it down?

On the way home along the northern edge of Meadowbrook stopped for a snapshot of the state of autumn on this day, in this place. Goldenrod had just finished blooming, frost aster still were plentiful–looked like they and not the bottle gentians would win the latest-bloom prize this year. There were orange-leafed shrubs, crab apples with past-ripe fruit and few but still some green leaves.

Noticed some mind-pictures of this place in previous autumns, ones with nicer colors, more pleasing compositions. Ah, the preference, the prejudice! Hard as the layers of years build up to just observe the beauty of the present, to accept “now” for what it is. But that’s the very rewarding goal.

Monday 13 October 2014. The Continuing Story of the Mushroom Appearance

It was about 2:30 pm and 70 degrees F (warm again!) under mostly cloudy skies when I squeezed in a ride to see the Race Street fly agaric mushrooms (Amanita muscaria).

Many were showing signs of age,

Some had been pulled out; some had notches around the edge, flower-like.

The large caps were becoming quite inverted, although there still was a good number of younger, more convex caps.

Was fascinated by the progress of certain individuals, like this one.

Seemed like as time went by, the largest of the large specimens were emerging.


By this time, though, the old individuals were definitely outnumbering the young.

A mushroom population, even a massive and long-lasting one like this, is manifested above ground only for a limited time.

Saturday 12 October 2014. Another Bottle Gentian Site!

This morning at 7 it was 43 degrees F under mostly cloudy skies. Am getting to like the later sunrise–leaves more time for yoga before the velo into the outside world.

Had the express and limited intention this morning of investigating a friend’s claim to have seen bottle gentians at the Japan House garden. (Was frankly a little doubtful, but curious.) Hadn’t planned to stop at “my” apple tree today, but saw that it showed its ripe fruit even more beautifully as the branches were beginning to shed their leaves.

Also, the fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) mushrooms were almost right on the way.

Really didn’t plan to stop here, either, but there I was. Urged myself to take only one picture; ended up with five (two shown here),

which actually was not bad as these things go.

Got a shot of fall color on the way to Japan House.

Noticed that the pond at the garden was surrounded with frost aster and other native-looking plants; this seemed to be the area my friend described. Sure enough there were bottle gentians!

They were past their peak bloom but still gorgeous, and there were a lot of plants, too.

Then, looking over the photos, noticed what could have been seed heads of cardinal flowers!

Remembered then that my friend had mentioned she saw them there in bloom! Felt a little sad that I’d missed it; did I not believe her?!? Sorry for not acting on your advice, Christina, you tried to alert me! Guess I have a slight prejudice for Meadowbrook; it’s big enough that I can pretend it’s a wild place and not “just” a garden. But having been so enchanted by the mushroom “kingdom” I realize that the line between garden and wild place, especially in the effect it has on one, can be blurred.