Sunday 22 November 2015. November Snow and Ice

At 7:30 this morning it was 12 degrees F and clear. Had very carefully assembled cold-protective gear: down coat with a couple of light layers underneath, wool socks, fleece balaclava, wind-proof ski gloves, and toe and hand warmers. 

After a very satisfying yoga practice (practice to teach, teach to practice!) set off on Discovery II for Meadowbrook Park. 

 Much of yesterday’s snow was still in evidence, but the the streets were largely clear (i.e., good biking conditions).  

Against the snow, the several trees still bearing fall-colored leaves stood out, betraying the exact time of year. 

The spruce trees under which the Amanitas mushroom, when they do, were lightly frosted. 

At Meadowbrook, was attracted again to the image of the “wonky Christmas tree,”    

which looked as if it had been trudging across the landscape. 

Liked the snow-and-ice-frosted tiny orange crab apples against the clear sky. 

Stopped for a view across the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek, 


curiously snow-covered while the path on the other side was clear, and of the creek below, 


on which as yet was no ice, despite the cold. 

Rode along, looking left and right at the sun illuminating the ice at the ends of the prairie-plant remains but not stopping. There were any number of images I might have  captured, including the new management of Davis Creek and a snow “hat” on the head of the Marker statue, but wanted to stay warm as long as possible and rode on.  

Did stop at the Freyfogel overlook for a view of snow on the November prairie


and proceeded on. Approaching Windsor Road, a good stretch of the path (that fortunately sloped downhill) was covered with a rather uniform layer of re-frozen snow. It was perfect practice for ice-riding: could coast over the ice and not worry about traffic or about propelling myself.  Think sledding, think flying, think forward momentum and balance. Be bold!  How satisfying to confront this little danger, sensibly yet boldly!  Hope someday to call on this example if I should be faced with real danger. 


Saturday 21 November 2015. First Snow!

This morning at 6:50 it was 34 degrees F and just starting to snow! 

 It had been raining  from the time I woke up, and made preparations for a ride in the rain: sprayed the old down coat with Scotchguard and the shoes with the shoe-formula water-proofing. 

Just as I was wondering how to keep rain out of the backpack, the rain changed to snow and was less worried about it. 

Aluminum-framed Discovery II was the bike of choice this morning. Had kind of hoped to get in some miles, but when the weather slows one down, a short trip can be entirely satisfying. So the destination was the Idea Garden in the University of Illinois Arboretum. 

On the way noticed that the white iris on Race Street, despite freezing temperatures earlier in the week, still bloomed! 

 Rode on, my heart reasonably light (from an unbidden reserve–wish I could summon it at will and pass it on!) as I rode on Florida Avenue through the thickening snowfall.  

Fortunately the street was not especially slippery, but tried to ride with the awareness necessary for navigating the slick surfaces that will be here soon enough. Made a mental note to stay away from traffic as much as possible when the this happens. 

Stopped for a snowy photo near the U of I president’s house.  

 The lamppost didn’t really lean like that. 

Around the corner at the idea garden wanted to get a shot without the too-assertive (in my opinion) sign saying, “Idea Garden.” 

Liked the view of the little shelter (that I always think would have looked at home in Tolkein’s land of Rohan) with a quaint fence, a little pine tree and a bare sumac.  

Made me think of Christmas cards (a discipline I have enjoyed but never quite mastered), for which this might be a nice scene.

Had not planned to take a picture of Discovery II in the snow, but there it was, posing,  after I’d parked it and walked around a little.  

 Looked forward to the awareness that is required and developed by winter cycling!

Sunday 15 November 2015. Meadowbrook with Sun over the Sleeping Prairie

Had a different schedule than usual this morning, so it was almost 9 before I got out on Rhododendron for a quick ride to Meadowbrook Park. It was 47 degrees F; the wind not noticeable and the sky clear. 

The traffic was heavier than it is at dawn, and the light harsher, but must say the warmth of the later hour was extremely nice, especially with yesterday’s cold still in mind. 

Rode south on Vine Street without stopping for pictures and just enjoyed the exercise, breathing through the nose and not worrying about how runny it might get. 

Took the big loop of the Meadowbrook prairie in a clockwise direction, which somehow tempts me less to make a lot of stops for photos. 

The prairie was so brown and grey that it didn’t pull my attention too insistently, but knew that an inspection of Baptisia pods or bush clover seed heads would make me want to get a few shots. So stopped at the Freyfogel overlook to see what was there. 

Was disappointed not to find any Baptisia pods. In fact, found stalks of dry Baptisia  that looked like they’d been cut with a sharp tool and stacked next to the platform. 

 Maybe someone wanted (and obtained) the pods.  

Did get a photo of strikingly dark-brown bush clover seed-heads against the clear sky,

  fluffy white goldenrod seeds-heads,  
and a thoroughly dried cream gentian plant. 

Not to mention the grass and other plants that were in various stages of break-down.  

 Went on among the walkers and runners on the path and thought to stop where remembered there being lots of lichens on the sapling trees between the path and Davis Creek. The lichens blended in with the stems more that I remembered,  

  but they were plenty abundant.   
Rode on and stopped at the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek  
where, unlike in the middle of the prairie, there still showed some (though it continued to fade) green. 

Then proceeded back toward home, again enjoying the exercise and the view in the sun. 

Saturday 14 November 2015. Cold Morning on South Race Street 

  It was 27 degrees F and the sky clear this morning at 7:45 as I finished a short yoga practice (that included satisfying use of the knee rods and the Simhasanana box) and began this ride out South Race Street. 

With various  out-of-town life-marking events (funerals, a wedding) it had been almost two weeks since my last recorded ride, so was extremely eager to get on the road! 

Today’s strategy for hand warmth was just to wear the bright magenta runner’s jacket with the hand-covering sleeves. Also, after the initial ginkgo shots  

 (and, e.g., above), rode without stopping (passing the bare apple tree and the place where the mushrooms had been) until I spotted a ginkgo with yellow leaves raining copiously to the ground, making very much a raining sound.  

Rode on and intended to keep going, but the sun shone so warmly (even in the cold) on the top of a couple of ginkgo trees at the corner of Race and Windsor that I stopped again.  

 Then went straight on Race “all the way” to Old Church Road, a decent ride in the country, at least, at last!

But on the way my mind was pulled away from unmitigated joy by the craziest  things, by thoughts of coming change, disappointment, regret, not so much at the results of my efforts as for having been so far off in reading them. Battle fatigue. Even images from past wonderful rides cluttered and clouded my availability to embrace this unique morning just as it was. And, most absurdly, felt slightly impatient to be sitting with a cup of coffee, looking at the photos and writing about the ride!

Then there was the cold.  Brrrrr!  First it got the fingers and then the toes. Now the magenta jacket didn’t seem like the best choice. Thought about how nice hand/toe warmers would have been just then. 

Reached Old Church Road and thought about going on, but it was just too cold!!

Turned around and on the way back took a little movie of my shadow to contribute to “Ride for Ray.

At the edge of Meadowbrook Park took the unofficial short cut into the park and got a shot from the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek. 
The trees were pretty much bare and the green on the ground continuing to fade. 

 Stopped farther down the path to get a photo of the abundant little orange crab apples.   

Was glad for this late show of color. 

Really felt cold, but kept on, working to let go of the clutter and stay present. It got easier after a while. Noticed that the cold didn’t completely obliterate a sense of enjoyment. It still was good to be out riding, smoothly and deeply taking in and letting out breath. 
Actually didn’t mind so much the discomfort but worried about whether the cold might be damaging to the joints of my extremities.  Must think carefully about protection for winter rides. 

Realized again that I was not going to untangle all of my problems today;  the ride was only eight miles, after all.  But, cold or not, for now it was good just to ride and breathe.

Sunday 1 November 2015. Falling Back

It was 45 degrees F and fog was just starting to blow in from the south at 6:30 this morning, this morning of grace, when the hour that was lost (and eventually we got used to it) has returned, like a windfall, so to speak.

So it was plenty light (the dark bonus time went to giving the kitchen a refreshment worthy of the time change) when I rolled Rhododendron out for a quick ride to Meadowbrook Park. 

On the way, noticed “my” apple tree had not one fruit on its branches  

whose leaves had not completely dropped. 

Under the spruce trees along Race Street, the Amanita muscaria mushrooms were well past their latest fruiting episode: the remaining individuals were pale and dry.


Will they be back next year?

South on Race toward Windsor there still were plenty of green leaves on the oak trees (note encroaching fog) 

But across the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek, it was a different story. 


Closer examination under the bridge showed remaining green growth,

but there was no mistaking this season for summer!

Down the path, at the Marker statue, there were no more bottle gentians that I could find, instead where they’d been were goldenrod, which were about to open their little holders of fluff-borne seeds. 


Farther on the trail were tiny orange crab apples, still clinging to the crab trees along with their remaining leaves and droplets of condensed fog . 


Thought of the word, “somber.” Time to go inward, to drink from the reserves. Good to have an extra hour to ease the transition. 

Thursday 30 October 2015. Riding to See the Dentist on a Windy Fall Afternoon, for Ray

Had a 1 pm appointment to see my dentist today and enough time to take the bike. The brisk west wind and temperature in the 40s, as well as fatigue from recently  squeezing in more activities than usual, gave me pause, but what better way to get in a bike ride, especially to add miles to Ray’s Little Ride, an incredible event created by an incredible guy who lives on my street, to raise money for ALS and muscular dystrophy. 

So off I went, stopping briefly for a shot with a dab of fall color at the beginning of the ride. 

 and also for the South Lincoln Avenue ginkgoes  

 though the light was not perfect for displaying their glory. 

Tried for a selfie to add to Ray’s video of all of his supporters  

 With interesting results.  No, that isn’t a hill. 

The approximately six-mile westward ride was characterized by wind!  Man, it was windy!  So there was no more stopping before getting there; the wind was slowing me down enough and didn’t want to be late. 

But the way back (punctuated with a couple of errands), as you can guess, was, so to speak, a breeze!  Was able now to get a few shots of the route:

the lovely Windsor Road bike path bordered by autumn leaves,  

clouds and late sunflowers, blown from west to east,

 an okay shot of ginkgoes on Lincoln,  
and the multi-color of turning sweet gum leaves on Lincoln just south of Florida. 

 Glad once again to have left the car at home!

Sunday 25 October 2015. Kidnapped by Maples

It was 45 degrees F under a mostly blue sky  spread with  wispy clouds at 7:30 this morning, after a yoga practice where I focused a lot on how to explain rolling the leg muscles in and the arm muscles out. How good it is to practice!

Afterward, it was later than I liked but just had to have some bicycle contact with the beautiful fiery maple leaves!


In spite of the shortness of time, obeyed the urge and took off in the direction of North Lincoln (normally too busy for my taste but comfortably quiet on a Sunday morning) and pedaled into the northerly breeze. It felt very good!

Rode past lots of trees (featuring fiery  maples) with gorgeous fall colors and did not stop until I was over I-74 and at the Mysterious Pit,  

the gate in front of which was wide open, and it looked like the soil had been moved around. I’m guessing there won’t be a Mysterious Pit there very much longer. But can’t imagine what will be there instead.  

Was sorely tempted to go farther north on Lincoln, but knew the time was short and so turned back. It was happily unlikely to have been pulled this far!

Rode back via the short but still thrilling hill between Woodlawn Cemetery and Busey Woods.  (Wheee!). Most of the way down, spotted the big oak tree that had been standing in water only a few (it seemed) weeks ago.  

Then all the yellow leaves deep into Busey Woods looked so inviting, so got a shot of them. 

Successfuly went non-stop through the curves and over the Saline Branch and around the corner and south on Broadway.  

But in the little prairie near Crystal Lake Pool there were quite a number of prairie flowers still blooming amid the dry foliage of late October, and didn’t want them to go unphotographed.  

There were goldenrod, 

 false sunflowers  

asters,  brown-eyed Susans

 and most amazingly, yellow coneflowers 

 as if it were July!

On top of that, a little father down, 
was an amazing display of autumn maple foliage.  

 How satisfying not to have missed it!

Then proceeded south on still-in progress but bike-passable Broadway  Avenue. 

Miss the quaint bricks, but the ride was “like butter!”

It was so good to let the pull of the season lead, another example of how a short ride is way, way, much better than none!