Sunday 20 November 2016. After the Freeze

This morning at 8:14 it was 26 degrees F, the sky with scattered sheets of thin clouds and (unlike yesterday!) minimal wind.

Gingko leaves still green,
Last night’s freeze releasing them,
Rained down to the ground.


Smooth-barked sycamore
Let in light between large leaves
Golden and sun-lit.


Golden corridor
Plenty of leaves are still held
In spite of this freeze.


Checked the last mushrooms.
A small group emerged, quite whole,
Their last bright showing.


It was a harsh year
For these dear Amanitas.
Most succumbed to mold.


Another short trip,
But never too short to see
Some thing beautiful.


Sunday 13 November 2016. Cold Approaches

It was 31 degrees F and (likely) partly cloudy at 8:18 am this morning. Alas, another late start.

Besides the lateness of the hour with its increased traffic (I am spoiled by riding early in the morning), was somewhat discouraged from riding by the cold. Though I love the feeling of pedaling, moving, and drawing deep, fast breath, and thought as always images abounded and beckoned, was not thrilled by the prospect of cold hands. So decided on just a really short ride on Rhododendron.

And what could be a better micro-adventure than to check the Race Street under-spruce Amanita muscaria mushrooms?


They had not stopped coming up from the ground


even with the attack of the “meta-fungus” but there were not many of them left.


Still lots of remains persisted, in all developmental stages, of those taken by the fungus.


Couldn’t help comparing the devastation of the Amanitas to the result of the recent American presidential election.


As I was about to leave, caught a glimpse of another species of mushroom

(but only four of them) that didn’t seem susceptible to the disease that ravaged the Amanitas. I took it as a symbol of hope.

Thursday 10 November 2016. Velo Chicago via Divvy!

It was about 51 degrees F and partly cloudy at about 11 am on this 2-days post-election (still disoriented) morning in my childhood home of Chicago, on my way to see my parents.

Arrived in Union Station right around the scheduled time of 9 am after catching the City of New Orleans in Champaign at a little after 6.

Had planned to take the Orange Line (rapid transit, or, “el,” train) to my parents’ place but then noticed a rack of light blue Divvy rental bikes lined up under the sunshine and perfect temperature, begging me to have another go at biking to the neighborhood.


Last summer I’d attempted this ride but only made it less than a quarter of the way when the front tire of the Divvy bike went flat. I didn’t know how to exchange it for a fresh bike and reached my destination by falling back on the Orange line.

So here was another chance, and I plied the kiosk touch screen, slid my credit card in and out, and removed the bike from its stall, ready to roll.

Had some trepidation: normally I don’t ride without a helmet (did they sell them at Walgreens?) and was not used to navigating big city streets. (I was born and grew up here but have spent almost every one of my adult years in much smaller Champaign-Urbana) For example, could not bring myself to look down through the mesh-decked bridge at the river below. And the bike seat needed adjustment (it actually was too high!) and had to pull the heavy (!) bike over a couple times to fine-tune the height.


But the ride was smooth enough, and appreciated the front carrier, in which I secured the box of frozen local pork chops I brought from U of I Meat Sales for my Dad.

Headed south on the bike lane of Clinton Street. Should have heeded the turn in the ole lane at Roosevelt Road and had to retrace my route when it was cut off by the UPS station. Eventually made it back to Canal Street and on to familiar Archer Avenue.

The traffic was reasonably light and the temperature comfortable, but faced a brisk headwind. It was a good workout!

The scenery was not like that of central Illinois,

but it was stark in a different way.

Relaxed more as I rode along but did not stop much.

Did get a shot of a triangular building that fit the corners made by the intersection of right-angled and diagonal streets.


Stopped to view the Archer Avenue Bridge over one of the branches of the Chicago River,


this manifestation of which was built when I was eight years old.


Loved looking down from the bridge.
Was glad to note that the river smelled better than I remember it used to.

After somewhere between five and six miles and 45-some-odd minutes, I inserted the front wheel of the Divvy bike into the rack by the 35th and Damen Orange Line stop,


grateful for the intrepid souls who’d fought the odds to bring this so-civilized service into being. And did feel proud to have succeeded in completing the trip!

Sunday 6 November 2016. Falling Back au Velo

Rolled Rhododendron out of the garage at 8:20 this morning, on the late side even with the time change (the happy return of the hour we lost last spring!), even with the extra daylight it provided. What can I say except that other first-thing-in the-morning activities, like Pranayama and a bit of Asana (handstand, forearm balance, headstand) practice, as well as giving Sparky a good Sunday morning walk, protruded into velo time.

It was 48 degrees F, the sky clear as I headed south on Race Street, intending to do at least 20 miles toward White Heath along Old Church Road, but still feeling the effects of the population of cold viruses that I was hosting since Thursday evening. So just played it by ear.

Have been one another haiku kick–it’s such a handy method for focusing thoughts and winnowing words.

At least checked mushrooms
Amanitas were still there,
Moldy or healthy.


Majestic trees stood
Throwing their westward shadows,
Lifting golden leaves.


Cold at first, not sure
Of a long trip; then warmed up,
And the road beckoned.

Turned west on Windsor.
Rode to the prairie near Neil.
It was mostly brown.

Heard water running:
From a pond over a dam,
Built there by beavers?


Rode west on Windsor,
South at Prospect to Curtis
And the sunken pond.

Near the sunken pond
Which was quite brown and quiet,
Saw large bird footprints.


At the pond’s far end
Gathered a large group of ducks!
They weren’t all mallards.


Prospect Avenue
Became a shaded bike path
That reached to Old Church.


In the autumn soil,
Something was strangely growing:
Thousands of corn shoots!


Back north on Race Street,
Runners looped Meadowbrook Park
A beautiful course.

Did not reach my goal
Of 20 miles for this ride,
But 13 was good!