Sunday 22 February 2015. A Careful Ride to the Little Prairie

This morning at 6:47 it was about 20 degrees F, the sky with a wide but relatively thin layer of broken cloud.

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Yesterday’s blanket of snow had been quickly plowed from the major streets, but many side streets (like the one in front if our house) remained untouched by the plow until quite late in the day, during which interval the normal traffic packed the day-warmed snow down and the later, colder temperatures solidified the slick-surfaced layer of snow-ice. When the plows did come, they mostly pushed over the ice, accomplishing little in the way of clearing the street.

Nevertheless, the conditions were at least, unlike yesterday, passable.

So walked Discovery (my old hybrid bike which, unlike Rhododendron, had good brakes) to the driveway and and got on, pedaling carefully over the ice and among the tire-ruts.

Race street was fairly clear; stopped to get a shot of “my” apple tree with its one remaining clinging mummified apple, and snow.

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Thought about going to Meadowbrook but wasn’t sure I wanted to risk having to cross ice mounds, so just rode as far as the mini-prairie on Florida and Orchard to scope out its winter condition.

There were dry stalks, curled brown leaves, many of the seed heads still with white fluff to eventually bear the seeds away in the breeze. Thought these mature thimble weed (I believe) tops went well with the snow.

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Also saw the dry remains of (probably) iron weed flowers

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and of and rosinweed and perhaps of tall Coreopsis.

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It was another abbreviated trip, but a trip, yes?

Noticed it was kind of nice to view the scenery on Discovery from the upright position (as opposed to the low forward-leaning position for Rhododendron, the 10-speed road bike), but it was harder to take the “hills” than it was on Rhododendron. And feeling a little wobble in its wheels made me appreciate the sturdy craftsmanship of the vintage Schwinn. Trade-offs are everywhere.

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Saturday 21 February 2015. The Limit, and Beyond

At 6:30 this morning, it was about 20 degrees F, the ground covered with several inches of snow. For some reason I thought it might be possible
to take my old hybrid bike out for a ride, but the streets were not yet plowed; neither had there been enough traffic to flatten the snow enough to pass on top of it. Very quickly it became apparent that the snow was impassible. My next door neighbor was digging her car out, and we both laughed as I conceded and labored to return Discovery to the back yard. It was quite an effort!

Once again, I refused to be kept away from the outside world for lack of a functioning bike, so just walked to my Saturday morning activities.

Stopped for a shot of the courthouse tower and surroundings with snow.

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Later, saw a lot of American robins (anticipating spring?) ahead of me, in the plowed but partly re-covered street, looking for–what? Was pretty sure it wasn’t worms. Then they flew off and left their little footprints in the snow.

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All around, the light (cold-fallen and still coming down) snow was at its freshest and most beautiful, especially the way it filled the spaces among the evergreen needles.

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It was hard to get a shot of the winter scene that was nearly as beautiful as it was to see directly. But I was there!

Sunday 15 February 2015. Very Cold; No Bike

It was 3 degrees F and party cloudy this morning when I got out the door at 7 (7!?! Where did the time go? I think it was sucked up by all the activity–just the usual stuff– in my head. You wouldn’t think time could be consumed this way, but there it was….

Before I was close to ready to go, noticed through the window that the sky was gorgeous with fluffs of pink-tinged clouds and hints of blue sky between them. Color! Color in February! And I was still inside!?! Tried hard to stay with the idea that I did witness it, even through a window.

Wrapped up in all the warm clothes I love and don’t get to wear except when the weather does this, and then remembered the brakes on Rhododendron were just not safe (rear not working at all and front sort of ok for slowing down but not for stopping) I needed to adjust them in the bitter cold. And it might have been easy enough if the tools were more precise or the nut holding the brake cable wasn’t quite so tight…. But gave up after some extended frustration, put the bike and tools in the garage and got in the car to head for Meadowbrook Park. One way or another I was going to be outside to experience the weather!

Drove then to the Race Street parking lot and made sure the hand warmers were tucked into the doubled mittens.

Made me laugh that the first image to get my attention at Meadowbrook was the “wonky Christmas tree.”

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It’s very much not a wonder of nature but fascinating nevertheless.

Walked to the bridge to see newly formed “black” ice on McCullough (and Davis) creek.

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Heard very distinctly a woodpecker very close. Took a little while to locate it.

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Alas, you probably can’t see it, but trust me, it was there. And it was not disturbed by my staring up at it. The woodpecker was deliberate and persistent in its work. Or play, or whatever was the point of its resonant pecking.

My hands got cold REALLY fast with mittens off to take even a few photos. They warmed again after a while, with the help of the hand warmers. Wondered what it would have been like on a bike!

Sunday 8 February 2015. Low-Key Meadowbrook

It was about 43 degrees F and partly cloudy this morning at 6:45 as Rhododendron and I headed for Meadowbrook Park. The sunrise was already underway; even from the back yard it was inviting.

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Got another shot of the sunrise over the the middle school athletic field

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and headed south on Vine Street. Felt reasonably comfortable: the weather was mild, had no particular aches or pains nor emotional distress. Neither was my heart exactly throbbing with eagerness to meet the world, though, as always, it was good to be out in the morning. Thought of the words “sober” and “equanimity.” Thought about the human fondness for thrills (whether brought by external stimuli or internal sensitivity) and was grateful for those I’ve had and reasonably confident that there would be more in my future. They were not extreme today, but neither was it especially disappointing.

At Windsor Road, which is still being repaired, turned left to do a clockwise big loop of Meadowbrook. It’s becoming a standard alternative. Like the view of the rising sun illuminating the prairie to the east.

Stopped right away to photograph those magnetic, musical Baptisia pods.

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Also liked the dry seed heads of mountain mint.

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But then went back to the Baptisia pods: they make good close-ups.

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Stopped to photo the high water at McCullough/Davis creeks.

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Felt an affinity with the high water, not overflowing, but full.

Cut over to the short loop to check out McCullough Creek a little way upstream and parked Rhododendron
with its factory kick stand near a large cottonwood tree, protected from the now-absent beavers with a wire cage around its base.

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But couldn’t get a photo I liked of the creek, then heard a crash: poor Rhododendron fallen over, alas!

Picked up my poor trusty bike and headed back toward Windsor Road. Noticed a brown cottonwood leaf suspended in a very clear heart shape,

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a weathered Valentine.

Just a little farther down, stopped to get a shot of this stainless steel sculpture.

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Didn’t think I cared very much for it, but today liked how it reflected the sky.

Was content with today’s little visit.

Sunday 1 February 2015. A Very Careful Snow Ride

At 7:10 this morning, it was 34 degrees F (half an hour later it was 32) and beginning to snow again after a short break.20150201-074428.jpg It was better than thick, bumpy re-frozen ice, but yes, the partly slushy and now accumulating snow did present a hazard to cycling. Still, the morning was full of irresistible beauty and adventure…. Once you address the safety issues (e.g., by riding early Sunday morning on streets with no traffic and never, ever taking your mind away from the task of balancing and going forward) you can experience the enfolding whiteness and also sharpen winter-biking skills, as well practice confronting fear. (Though the quaint, to American ears, British expression “daft” kept popping into my head.) So off Rhododendron and I ever so carefully went to Carle Park–not far away and not requiring being near any busy streets.

Carle Park was picturesque with snow, 20150203-140352.jpg even if the light was not exactly optimal for capturing it. Liked the grouping of walnut, sycamore, and still-leafed red oak. (Actually, the sign I later noticed nailed to its trunk identified it as a black oak.)
20150203-135413.jpg The red-brown of the curled, clinging oak leaves was a welcome bit of color. 20150203-135740.jpg Noticed squirrels bounding across the snow and stopping to dig down under it. Noticed one nestled in the lower branches of a shrub.
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Used the real camera for this one. Love that zoom.

The snow was wet and sticky. Liked how it clung to all the little twigs and contrasted with the dark trunks.

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Got as far as Lincoln Avenue then turned back. Got another shot of snowy Carle Park on the way home.
20150203-135849.jpg When I got home, took a picture of my returning bike tracks next to the out-going ones,
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a nice record of the expedition.