Sunday 3 December 2017. Another Short, Cold Ride on the KRT

It was 34 degrees F and clear, with barely a breeze at 6:52 this morning as I wheeled Rhododendron down the driveway and out toward the Kickapoo Rail to Trail and St. Joseph.

It was cold enough to worry about freezing (though not literally) fingers and toes so wasn’t sure how far I’d actually get. Would just play by ear and see. Tried to psych up about restraint with photos so as to retain warmth.

Headed east on Main Street and stopped for a view of the oak-grove by the train tracks, across from the Dart plastics factory.

Despite the early start, saw no foxes. It (they) are on a different schedule (or location) for some reason.

Also stopped for a quick view of almost-winter Weaver Park with the sun coming up.

The goldenrod had lost most of their foamy seed-carriers. The scene seemed to call for black and white.

Horse nettle fruit (related to and resembling cherry tomatoes but poisonous) was abundant.

On the ground near the sidewalk were frosted leaves.

Rode on to the head of the wonderful, beloved trail.

Behind Walmart in the wet area were lots of cattails in the process of releasing their fluffy seed-dispersers.

The wooden rail was frosty.

A little farther on, the sun flashed among the thin trees.

Still farther along, seed-head-topped grass lay flattened along the trail, as if in homage to the cyclists,

of which I was one, and thank you!

Noticed tracks (human, canine, avian) in the not completely packed gravel; no doubt there were deer tracks, too. But didn’t stop to photograph them.

Did eventually photograph the ruts being worn into the trail by bike tires.

Not sure whether these might become problematic. Maybe the occasional application of a steam (I’m sure that’s not exactly the equipment anymore, but you get the idea) roller will take care of it.

The ride, except for cold hands and feet, was extremely pleasant. The low sun was far enough to the south to not be directly in my eyes. Birds lifted, spread, wheeled, settled on the brushy vegetation along the trail. Frost spread the morning light across the subtle curves of the landscape. The monotony of the straight trail induced an inward rhythm, an awareness of subtle differences from one repetition of the scene of landscape to the next. But my hands were cold. Brr!

Turned around at 1800 E (Mt Olive Cemetery).

On the way back, on East Main Street, passed a young woman carrying roller skates over her shoulder who was walking along Main Street and stopped to ask something of a couple standing in front of their house. They must have refused because the young woman responded with angry words. I sympathized with the couple and kept riding on. But then I judged that I could handle an interaction with her and stopped the bike to wait, then turned and walked toward her. She spoke angrily at first but then was very apologetic, saying she needed cigarettes and did I have a dollar? She seemed reasonably well-groomed so apparently not far from some kind of stability. But she made me think of people close to me who struggle with perhaps similar problems. Who knows what form of suffering she carried just then? I said I did, fished out two, and handed them to her. She thanked me profusely and didn’t ask for any thing else but wished me well. And I her, and rode on. Really I was not much help. But still was glad for the small positive connection.

Sunday 10 December 2017. Ice on the Creek

It was 23 degrees F and partly cloudy

at about 7 this morning as I rolled Shadow down the driveway and headed south to Meadowbrook Park.

On the way, stopped at the spruce grove to see whether anything was left of the Amanitamuscaria mushrooms.

Surprisingly, there was one in pretty good shape, considering the weather

and also one farther along in the process of degradation.

But as far as I could tell, that was all.

Got a seasonal shot of the south end of the grove.

Rode on into the south wind, which was surprisingly icy on my face.

At Meadowbrook stopped to view the “wonky Christmas tree.”

Then rode to the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek, where there was ice (not solid) on the water.

It was good to observe this indication of winter, of this distinctive, even if austere, time.

Stopped also for oddly twisted trees.

The absence of surrounding leaves and distracting flowers lets their forms stand out.

But it was the clouds that beguiled me this morning.

They were full of dimples and ripples.

And over the prairie, they opened to gaps of blue sky.

On the way back, near the Vine Street bridge, stopped at an old (seven or eight years, at least) beaver sculpture.

which was surrounded by new growth.

Wondered when the next generation of Meadowbrook beavers would arrive.

Riding homeward, worked hard to send warmth to my fingers. It seemed to be at least somewhat successful.

Sunday 26 November 2017. South to the End of Race Street

It was 29 degrees F st 7:45 this morning as I wheeled Rhododendron out into the street and southward just to get out and ride!

Stopped at the cute book exchange shelter I’ve glanced at and passed by many times.

Especially liked the “roof” of overlapping aluminum-can shingles. Thought about donating a book to its inventory.

Farther along noticed how much fall had advanced in less than a week.

Have not been riding very far lately and just wanted to head out into the country, so simply rode south on Race Street.

Saw frost on the bordering grass along the fall-plowed field. Felt deprived lately of that manifestation of water and savored the fine frosting of minute crystal that would be gone in a matter of minutes.

Amazingly, there was pretty much no wind. Noticed how effortless riding the rejuvenated Rhododendron was. Not bad conditions for a late-fall ride.

Saw a curious piece of equipment perched on a post near the road.

Quite pre-digital. Thought it rather handsome, actually, if not exactly functional.

Close to the end of Race Street, looked up over the resting field at the blue sky, with its evidence of air travel.

Stopped to mark the journey ‘s extent,

and turned back.

Am so excited to be almost caught up on my posts!!

Saturday 25 November 2017. Pandamonium. And Mushrooms.

It was 45 degrees F under clear skies at 8:30 this morning as I set out after yoga practice to the legendary Pandamonium Doughnuts. It was a nice 5 mile bike ride to neighboring Champaign and I was curious about their acclaimed product.

Rode west on Windsor Road and stopped at the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration Project.

where dry lead plants framed the signage.

The west wind blew toward me and the net grade was uphill. But overall the ride was pleasant. Was glad I made this choice rather than stay closer to home.

Had a “salted caramel ” doughnut which was covered with a thick layer of gooey frosting. Spectacular! But, in my opinion, not so fine as Lucky Pierre’s vanilla cardamom glazed. Whatever they were fried in was not ghee. Still, it’s good (luxurious!) to have the choice.

Who knew Champaign-Urbana would become a source of fine doughnuts?

On the very easy (net downhill, and with a tailwind!) way home, stopped to check for mushrooms at the usual spot.

There were some, even a pretty good-sized and fairly developed one

but it seemed like they had been disturbed, many dug up an laying on their sides.

Not sure what that was about. I’m pretty sure that more will be back next year. Will watch and see.