Sunday 15 May 2016. Cold Morning in May

It was 39 degrees F (yes, according to the phone ap!) and partly cloudy this morning at about 6:30 am as Rhododendron and I headed toward South First Street. Had been expecting the cold and accordingly put on layers against it.

Felt completely comfortable in the weather as early on made a stop for a lupine “family portrait “

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The pale yellow spikes apparently were beginning to outnumber the deep pink ones.
And didn’t go far before a huge, creamy pale pink puff of a peony blossom beckoned.

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Wondered whether the cold had an effect on it.

On the way south and west stopped at the Florida and Orchard prairie planting, where the only native blooms I could see still were golden Alexanders, but with foliage of many coming attractions emerging densely,

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most notably the stacks of broad, vertically-folded, pale alternating leaf-pairs of the common milkweed.

Rode south on Lincoln Avenue toward Windsor road and stopped for look at cows under a nice cloud.

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Made me think of my sister the vet and her family’s dairy farm in Wisconsin, where yesterday they had snow (!?!). Was glad this reminder of her life was so close and accessible to me.

Rode west on Windsor and saw a great blue heron wading in the “pond” to the east end of the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration. Of course it took off before I could get a shot with the iPhone, though did manage to snag a poor though documentary photo with the dedicated camera.

Because this morning was so atypical with the unseasonable cold, the phrase, “one (unusual!) morning in May” occurred to me, and then, of course, the James Taylor recording of a traditional song by that name. What a great duet he and Linda Rhonstadt did on that one.

Noticed here the first spiderwort of the season in bloom! Did not, however, tromp through the vegetation to get a close shot. Soon enough there will be flowers close enough to the path to observe easily.

Checked the area in front of the sign for evidence of lead plant, which seemed to turn up nothing until I noticed small shoots emerging from fairly high up on some dead-looking woody branches.

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It was a satisfying discovery, something I hadn’t known before: exactly how the plant makes its return from winter dormancy.

Then doubled back slightly to ride south on First Street.

The little corn plants in the fields to one or both sides of the road seemed unharmed by the cold. Got a photo of a field with curved rows.

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Was feeling calm and mostly neutral, ready for a little fatigue. The ride was pleasant enough, smooth and sometimes rather quiet, and only after a while did I begin to suspect a coming push-back from the north wind. Indeed, the grass along the road did seem to be bending in the direction in which I was traveling, and perhaps also slightly toward the road as well. Hoped the westward component would lessen the strength of the headwind on the way back.

Stopped at the lovely prairie planting a little farther down: it featured blue indigo (Baptisia australis)

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(note the tidy lawn and non-native evergreens in the background), white blackberry blooms,

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and then, spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis)!

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Rode as far as County Road 900

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and turned around.

Yes, the wind blew from the north as I headed in that direction. It was more effort than the way out, but not so much as to make the ride unpleasant. Thought as I rode of people, deceased and alive, who used to be in my life but are no longer. My memory of and gratitude for them was so vivid this morning.

Stopped at the Starbuck’s on South Neil for a spinach wrap and coffee and to rest.

Then cut through the street just to the west of Neil (it does go through) to St. Mary’s Road, the neat, narrow road where sports and animal science (and veterinary medicine) meet.

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I like sports well enough (though I seem to have been attracted to people who don’t), and in a sense owe my existence to it, as my parents met because they both were on basketball teams. But it does make me sad to see the historic round barns behind a golf course.

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At least the barns and the vet school are not likely to be displaced.

Took that lovely, precious central Illinois hill of St. Mary’s Road down to Lincoln Avenue and homeward.

Stopped to photo one of so many gorgeously blooming neighborhood Rhododendrons

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and headed home.

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