Sunday 24 January 2016. Quick Winter Stop at Japan House Garden

Today at 7:15 AM  it was 18 degrees F, and the sky was clear. 

Early this morning Woke and thought about the cold Staying on my back. 

Before the bike ride Kneaded the clay of my will, And prepared for joy. 

[But before I went out, finished and submitted-on the deadline and not after!-my homework assignment for an upcoming yoga teachers’ workshop. Hooray!]

The streets were quite clear Riding into the south wind On Rhododendron

Rode to Japan House. Sun and snow and cypress trees Extended their welcome.  

 Noticed a shadow  

 
A simple shape made grotesque  Like our pesky fears. 

Turned in my homework, Biked in the beautiful cold. Now ready to write!

[Alternatively, “Time to have coffee!”]

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Sunday 17 January 2016. A Little Snow. 

Made it out by 6:35 am this morning, HOORAAAY! 

It was 14 degrees F, with a thin layer of snow on the ground and light snow still falling. Wanted to take Discovery II, but the  lock still would not yield to my efforts to open it. So headed out in the snow and brisk north wind (which was a help on the way out) on Rhododendron toward Meadowbrook Park. 
   

The snow was not deep enough to impede cycling but did call up the image of balance like on a sled, and worked to avoid sudden changes in direction. 

Was happy to be out in a bit of dark, before the official sunrise, even if I’ve been missing days to ride and getting somewhat out of the habit of embracing the winter weather. It took a while to feel smoothness in the ride but soon was at Meadowbrook Park. 

Just past the Race Street parking lot was a gathering of deer. 

This was when I started to think in haiku, a way my late friend Nancy connected with other people and the world in her last days. 

  

After this photo The deer ran back through the trees Waving their white tails. 

The rabbit statue Its eye encircled by snow Stood before the bridge.  

 

The bridge from downstream. Here not so many big trees. A different view. 

  

A favorite place To see the change of seasons Today there is snow. 
  
 
 Crossing McCullough. The bridge was not slippery, Just squeaky with snow. 

  

Ahead of me, prints Already made in the snow. I wasn’t the first. 

Saw more bands of deer. Groups of seven, four, and two. Lots of them today. 

  

Work on Davis Creek. Now we get to see the stream. Will get used to it. 

 

Stark winter prairie Relieved by dark bush clover. Their curves are so welcome. 

Then went on and did not take the camera out again. It was COLD! And was now pointed into the north wind. 
It was good to brave the cold.  Any amount. 

Sunday 10 January 2016. Suddenly Winter 

It was 17 degrees F this morning at 7:30, 16 minutes after the official (according to the phone weather ap) time of sunrise. Had never paid attention to the precise timing of daylight before, but, to my surprise, for the past whole week the sun rose at the same time of 7:15, though it did set a minute later from one day to the next. Observe and you shall discover. 

The sky was cloudy and a tiny bit of snow lay on the ground.  

 Actually had to psyche up for this morning’s ride. The cold was not unwelcome, but was not used to it. Ended up with a litany of little obstacles to a smooth ride. 

First, had been used to the more upright riding posture of Discovery II and intended to ride it this morning, but the lock on it was frozen solid and couldn’t budge it open.  So took Rhododendron instead, the brakes of which, I soon recalled, were  nowhere near so safely adjusted as those of Discovery II. So in addition to facing the north wind, had to think about braking early and often. 

Did have a good yoga practice, but it seemed harder than usual to transition from yoga to riding into the north wind.  

All the while was thinking of the death of my dear friend Nancy (who has appeared in this blog).  Her loss leaves a huge empty place, but also she leaves a vast amount of, for lack of a better word, positive energy. Countless people (myself included) were able to take a big step toward realizing their full potential because of her encouragement and utter belief in their abilities. We swam, biked, did yoga together, usually in the wee hours of the morning.  It was a privelige to have had her friendship. 

So it would be a modest effort this morning. Had planned to go to Meadowbrook, then scaled the destination back to Japan garden, then just decided to stop at Caffe Paradiso, because I didn’t feel up to much more just then. 

As I approached my destination, though, felt a little surge of energy, promising some longer, more awake future winter rides. 

 
 So only rode to the coffee shop. 

By the time I got there was starting to consider that a longer ride might be ok, next time. 

Saturday 2 January 2016. The Sun Returns: The Pond at Japan House

This morning at 7:30 it was 25 degrees F, the sky clear, showing a high and slightly less than half-moon, the air calm. Was happy to see the sun, the blue sky!

After preparing for this afternoon’s yoga class (including working out ways to use the trestle to support straightening the knees in Supta Padangusthasana) went for a short ride on Discovery II to Japan House. The air was brisk, but was dressed for it and exhilarated in moving through it on this sunny morning. 

The welcome sun made me think about the difference between painting a happy face over troubles vs. choosing joy in the middle of hard times. My view is that nothing is solid: there alway are gaps in the struggle, moments of true peace. So why not be alert for them and use them to refresh our efforts to confront our unpleasant but perhaps necessary battles?  Seems from here that engagement with our demons can be exciting, but over time fatigue can make it less so….

Arrived at the entrance to Japan House  

 and rode just long enough to see the pond, where softly peeping pine siskins (my best guess) came to drink.  

   
The sun was rising over it and ice was beginning to form on its surface. 

 

Rested here, if so briefly, in the peace and beauty of the scene. 

Turned to go back, passing many potential images.  Especially with the smaller visual pallet of the central Illinois  winter, this is and will be a good place to visit and revisit. 

Thursday 31 December 2015. This Morning’s Version of Grey Meadowbrook 

This New Year’s Eve morning at 7:10 (5 minutes before the predicted 7:15 –despite the passing of the official solstice, the sun as yet still is coming up later than the day before –sunrise) it was 30 degrees F and thickly cloudy. A fine sprinkling of precipitation I couldn’t tell was liquid or solid was falling. 

Had something of a cold so tried to take it at an easy pace on Discovery II toward Meadowbrook Park and just report what managed to get beyond the viral fog into my consciousness. 

The first image of which was someone’s festive decoration of the Lincoln the Lawyer statue (adding almost a dot of color to the grey) in front of Carle Park.  

 
Beyond that just rode to Meadowbrook Park, past the new micro-managing stoplight system at Race and Windsor. 

Stopped to document the haws on the way to the rabbit-statue bridge, which recently had provided a dash of color, but no longer. 

 
Stopped at the rabbit-statue bridge, which was slick with a thin coat of ice. The creeks were in their banks though  still high a coulple of days after rains had filled a lot of normally-dry local basements (including ours).  

 The heavier silt load of Davis Creek compared to McCullough Creek was evident. Also could see where the water not long ago had washed over the bend in the stream. 

Saw a deer shortly down the path.  It’s not quite visible in this shot, but this is where it was. 

 Farther on, not much specifically caught my eye to photograph, but the quiet, calm atmosphere was soothing.  Even in the grey, it was good to be at Meadowbrook. 

Got a shot of the modifications around Davis Creek so I could work on getting used to it. 

 
It still is kind of a shock. 

Then rode, feeling under the weather and enveloped by grey-ness. 

Stopped along Windsor Road for pics of shrunken apples,  

 drying haws,  

 and some purple coneflower seed heads 

 before heading back, ready to rest.