It was 67 degrees F under mostly clear, mostly calm skies at 5:17 this morning as I wheeled Rhododendron down the driveway and toward South Race Street.
Was determined to be present to receive the gift of additional daylight and thus additional time with which to take in the outdoors. I am a morning person but this year have not quite managed to get up with the birds and not squeeze in too many little activities to make it out the door before official sunrise. Until today!
The bike felt smooth and easy, and the morning was fresh and of a perfect temperature, but today I felt very much not quite awake. As an inveterate morning person, this does not happen to me very often, but when it does I think of the night-people who have to be awake early for something unusual and am sorry for my past insufficient empathy for their situation.
Stopped not far into the ride for the irresistible pastel cabbage roses
Looked like there were lots of little apples on “my” tree.
Saw some Amanita mushrooms under the spruce trees,
but not tons of shiny, new, succulent specimens.
Saw also a couple individuals of another species,
At Meadowbrook Park, was delighted to welcome the rising sun.
Stopped at several spots to take it in, over McCullough Creek at the rabbit-statue bridge
and down the path a little way
Wondered whether there still would be blue flag irises, and, oh, there were!
Framed by prairie dock leaves,
The park was empty, the morning fresh, already mint-fragrant!
and the spiderwort
Stopped at the Freyfogle overlook
to check on the lead plant, which were in bud, but, alas, bearing a collection of robust shiny reddish-brown beetles on their foliage.
Fervently hoped the beetles were just resting there or at least readily sated with little damage to the plant’s integrity.
Rode on through gloriously abundant white Penstemon and blue spiderwort. The landscape was deeply soul-filling. Was happy to be smack in the middle of another stage of the year that’s anticipated before it comes and missed when it’s finished.
Near the Vine Street entrance to the park got a shot of the abundant serviceberries
Then rode west on Windsor to check the lead plant at the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration, which more than ever looked in need of stewardship,
so overgrown with invasive exotics. But the lead plants looked well enough.
Did not want to walk through the overgrowth to check for beetles on these.
Rode south on First Street, which felt mostly uphill! My hip muscles were starting to tire though knees and shoulders were happy enough. At 900 S, turned back.
On the way back stopped at the roadside prairie garden, which featured spiderwort, lace-edged (not an official name, just a description) cup plant,
and a small, less showy milkweed.
Spied a great blue heron while crossing over a creek on First Street. Parked the bike and carefully walked back to the bridge, Just in time to see the heron take off.
They sure are wary.
Got a shot of a dickcissel (had been hearing lots of these “mini-meadowlarks”) on a fence post.
The way home was mostly downhill, which I gratefully enjoyed!