Saturday 27 May 2017. Out Yankee Ridge Road via Lush Meadowbrook

It was 64 degrees F at 6:20 under cloudy skies this morning as I got Rhododendron the road bike out for a long-awaited spin!
The nice people at Neutral Cycle put the pedal crank back into is working position, replaced the cables and brake pads, and reduced the number of speeds to five (really, who needs more than that, at least in central Illinois?) by removing the rusted-out front derailleur.

Was amazed by Rhododendron’s speed and smoothness and didn’t stop until Windsor Road, where I did not wait long to cross.

Made the customary stop at the rabbit-statue bridge.

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Then sought blue flag irises, which I found, more abundant and widespread than I ever remember seeing them.

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And of course there were spiderwort

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and Penstemon.

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Pasture rose provided a pink counterpoint to the greens, white and blue.

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At the Freyfogle overlook was lead plant, with its festive-looking foliage.

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The clouds broke up enough to reveal some blue sky and cloud-shapes over the land.

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Saw dew-beaded spiderwebs.

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The flowers and foliage at Meadowbrook this morning were spectacular and particularly uplifting, at least to this observer!

Then rode along Windsor road on the “sidewalk,” (which I see more as a multi-use path) to Philo Road and east on Old Church, then south on Yankee Ridge Road.

Here is Yankee Ridge at Old Church Road, viewed from the west

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as ever, a place of quiet. I think of it as a bit of sacred silence, accompanied by its stark and subtly beautiful view.

Wanted to go on

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but time limitations prompted me to turn back at the road that is paved to the east but is wet and unpaved to the west.

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Returning home rode into a north wind (which explains the ease of the trip out) and just wanted to get back!

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The fog blew toward me and I was sure it would rain even though the phone Ap assured me it wouldn’t. There was nothing to do (as is so common in so many aspects of life!) but hunker down and press on.

After some discomfort just settled into it as if I were lost, but not in a bad way, just absorbed in the present. And made it back with some satisfaction.

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Sunday 21 May 2017. Spiderwort and Penstemon at Meadowbrook and the Curtis and Prospect Sunken Pond

It was 54 degrees F at about 6:15 am under cloudy skies, which seemed certain to produce rain, though the weather ap said no, as I rolled Shadow out of the garage. Wanted to see the spiderwort at Meadowbrook and whether the Penstemon (beardtongue) were yet in bloom.

Contemplated this portion of time that I devote to biking and how it might be used for other things that need attention in my life. At the beginning of a ride sometimes recently, I’ve been feeling impatient and uncomfortable, especially if it’s rainy and cold, and I think ahead to sitting in the coffee shop writing or knitting. But decided the physical exercise alone is worth pushing through zones of reduced joy and so resolved to protect this ritual.

Rode on Race Street near the grove of spruces that shelter the Amanita mushrooms (when they appear) and planned to check for fruiting bodies (mushrooms), but stopped because there was a fox nearby. The fox ran off before I could aim my iPhone camera at it, but then it appeared again and I recorded a glimpse.

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Had yet another pleasant passage across Windsor Road and headed to the rabbit-statue bridge across McCullough Creek, but first stopped for the view of shadows under these precisely shaped haw trees.

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Davis and McCullough creeks were full and fast-moving.

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Over the bridge and around the corner, right away were spiderwort, so many more in bloom since last week.

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And the first Penstemon were showing, with lots of little buds for coming days.

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Was surprised and delighted to see the blue flag irises!

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It seemed to be a good year for them; in addition to the main large patch, iris flowers could be see in at least three directions a little way from it.
As a bonus, the area had been “managed” to allow a decent view without having to walk in water through willow shoots and other vegetation. Was really glad for that bit of close view and glad to have been able to content myself with a shot at this distance, though it was tempting to get closer to the “mother” patch.

Filled me with that joy I do this for, it even summoned the not eternally profound but entirely appropriate lyrics from the band Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park”, “Listen children, all is not lost, oh no!” Which I really can stand to hear lately.

Soon the clouds were starting to break up and make sky-sculptures.

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And the spiderwort! Something about spiderwort makes one (me, at least) want to take endless photographs of their simple, graceful blueness against the tender green of May foliage.

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I indulged a small portion of that urge.

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It was the same, perhaps on a smaller scale, with the Penstemon.

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Rode around and back through the small loop and back to Race and on to Curtis Road where the clouds were large and shapely and the sky felt huge!

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Rode to the sunken pond on Curtis and Prospect, which featured more spiderwort but also purple Baptisia
(indigo).

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On the way back were weedy but handsome Erygeron

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and attenuated but peaceful looking
clouds.

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The many gorgeous flowers, decent mileage, and lovely sky made for a very enjoyable trip!

Saturday 20 May 2017. Meadowbrook Before the Rain

It was 54 degrees F and cloudy at 7:00 this morning, with the wind from the east.

Missed the sunrise, but it was not spectacular because of the low cloud cover.

I’ve been slowed down by various things lately and really was ready to ride. Not only do I miss observing the word from the bike but I’ve come to take the physical activity for granted and don’t like having less of it. Even so, a long ride was not in the cards.

Thought, paradoxically, as I aimed Shadow south on Race Street that time demands can turn even a bike ride (or yoga practice, fo that matter) into something I “have to” rather than “want to” do. Usually, if I take some effort to re-arrange my thoughts and re-focus, it’s at least partly possible to restore the the joy to the once completely joyful activity. Makes me wonder whether I can bring that attitude to other things that have to be done and infuse them with more joy.

It was good to see some of my favorite neighborhood perennials in bloom:

Cabbage roses,

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A very fancy Clematis,

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and Asian poppies

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which seem to exude the very spirit of my late friend Nancy, who loved them so much.

Rode south on familiar Race Street and crossed Windsor Road with little waiting at the traffic lights. I think the city traffic authority must have adjusted it. It no longer seems to disturb my enjoyment of the morning ride. At least not lately.

Rode right to the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek

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the banks of which are becoming quite lush, then crossed over and rode just far enough to spot a blooming spiderwort.

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Considered taking the rest of the loop, but heeded the raindrops and distant thunder and headed back.

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Not long after, there was electrical activity and lots of rain.

Sunday 14 May 2017. Mother’s Day at Meadowbrook

This morning at 5:30(!) it was 61 degrees F under clear, calm skies as I rolled Shadow out to head to Meadowbrook Park.

All around me was business green, interspersed with the orange-red of poppies, the purples, blues, yellows, and maroons of irises, and the bright whites, pinks, and deep reds of peonies.

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Though the bloom was further along than I expected.

A patch of irises in two shades of blue-violet bloomed Monet-perfect.

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A little way down Race Street, the spruces that shelter the fall Amanita mushrooms were putting out pale green shoots: a promise of health and growth.

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Caught another cluster of blooms in a neighborhood garden, including yellow irises.

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At Meadowbrook Park, saw the sun come up!

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Even caught the sun rising over McCullough Creek at the rabbit-statue bridge.

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Was grateful to be there, like I used to do so frequently but lately have managed so seldom.

Not far from the bridge and after the path turned east, saw lots of tender green foliage and fresh, new spiderwort in bloom.

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Blackberry brambles put out their white flowers.

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In the recently-created little pond along Davis Creek was a trio of Mallard drakes, preening and grooming vigorously.

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Stopped at the Freyfogle Overlook and found a bold tree swallow guarding its south edge.

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On the way out stopped to photograph the long shadows around the “wonky Christmas tree.”

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It was Mother’s Day, a day that brings up so much emotion on all sides: my Mom, my kids, their birth mothers, myself…. But my thoughts presently were unfocused, absorbed into the beauty of the morning.

Sunday 7 May 2017. No Fox

It was 41 degrees F under clear skies at 7:30 this morning as I finally got Shadow on the road. Headed north and east to see whether the fox would be in its customary place across Main Street from the Dart plastic-lid factory.

It was not.

So went on to see what was happening at the edge of Weaver Park.

Blooming were golden Alexanders.

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Recognized shoots of common milkweed, wild bergamot (Monarda), I’m pretty sure,

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as well as prairie dock, compass plant, cup plant, to name a few.

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Rode only to the edge of Weaver and turned back.

Across the street on the way back were pink evening primrose in a garden generously planted in native plants

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The field next to the Dart parking lot bloomed in butterweed.

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Wondered whether there would be corn or soybeans (if anything) planted there this year.

Saturday 6 May 2017. Wet Meadowbrook, After the Shooting Star Bloom

It was 45 degrees F and mostly cloudy, not raining but with fresh puddles in the street

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at 6:30 am when I headed out in Shadow in the direction of Meadowbrook Park. It was a little past dawn, but the sky still spoke of the sunrise.

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Stopped on the way at the Amanita mushroom site, where there only were remnants of last year’s appearance. Getting back on my bike, puzzling in my mind about how one might make sure nursing home residents get their showers on schedule, my foot slipped on the pedal and the bike went down, taking me with it, something pinching my left middle finger hard. I think I saw the bike over my head for a bit(!?!). Was shaken and embarrassed but not seriously hurt, and very grateful it hadn’t happened in traffic!

Proceeded then, carefully, to Meadowbrook Park.

The “wonky Christmas tree” was full of pale green growth shoots,

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somewhat obscuring its resemblance to a four-limbed creature.

At the rabbit-statue bridge, the water in McCullough and Davis creeks ran high and fast.

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The park was quiet!

Puddles reflected the sky.

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The burr oak trees still had tiny leaves.

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The sky was sculptural and dramatic.

Walked in on the soft path, which was was quite wet and true to the name, to see whether the recent cool weather had prolonged the shooting star bloom enough to be able to still see any of it.

Alas, no, it was done. Only the slightest evidence of their presence remained.

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Could not help feeling sad for the brevity of their graceful presence.

It now was the time of the golden Alexanders

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which are nice enough but to me are humble place holders between the shooting stars and the more spectacular coming spiderwort and beardtongue. Not proud of my prejudice, but there it is.

The sky had some lovely cloud shapes

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Saw a group of 3-4 deer ahead of me and then one in the path that took a while to decide to move. I waited for it to do so, thinking it unwise to try to approach it head on.

Rode on and over the Windsor/Vine bridge, beneath which a mallard drake swam with speed and determination, as if it were late for an appointment.

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Glad at this point I wore mittens!

Then home.