Wednesday 25 July 2018. To St. Joe via the KRT on a Perfect Morning

It was 67 degrees F with just a few clouds to the east and otherwise clear as I set out on Rhododendron for St. Joseph on the KRT bike trail. Wished I had gotten out while the sun was still at the horizon, but at least those little tasks that delayed my departure were done.

Stopped briefly at Weaver Park to photograph the cup plants ,

Some of whose flowers were brown with disease, but many of which were healthy and yellow-petaled.

Saw also Monarda, purple coneflowers,

tick trefoil,

healthy-looking black-eyed Susans

and Indian grass.

Then rolled eastward on the trail.

Again noticed a scarcity overall of the native prairie plants that elsewhere (like at Weaver Park or Meadowbrook) now are in full bloom. But the flora was not without its charms, e.g., the architectural, even past their bloom, mullein plants,

and the pop of color of the declining hollyhock just west of Full’s Siding.

Did see quite a few prairie dock in bud and some reasonably thick patches of false sunflower.

The light was perfect. The temperature was perfect. The air was calm. It was a good place to be.

Crossed the Salt Fork

and proceeded into St. Joe and to the Geschenk cafe for a Florentine egg and cheese wrap and latte.

Saw a few of the the St. Joe vultures

from the front window.

Then felt adventurous on the way home; much as I love the KRT, instead of retracing my outward path rode south to Homer Lake Road and East Washington Street

and stopped at the Lincoln historical marker with its surrounding prairie planting, featuring full-blooming compass plants.

Stopped for a late-morning view of the Salt Fork at Homer Lake Road,

a nice patch of wild petunias,

a deceased monarch butterfly (saw a handful of live ones this trip), corn, to document the progress of the crop,

and to document the (uncommon) existence of stalks with two ears, and the spot near 1800 E that I refer to as “Gehenna,”

where there always (or has been since 2012) is fire, or the ready ingredients for and evidence of it.

It felt good to be back out in the open countryside for a little longer than has recently been typical. Somehow when I started this blog, I’d anticipated expanding the trips over time, but instead they’ve become shorter and less frequent. It makes me think of a particular obstacle to a strong yoga practice: backsliding.

But decided to let the ride just fill the present without measurement and continue when and however possible, observing what happens.

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Sunday 15 July 2018. Summer Bouquets at Meadowbrook

It was 72 degrees F at 5:55 this morning under skies with large, spread-out clouds.

All I wanted to do was go for a quick ride to Meadowbrook Park before devoting a good hour and a half to yoga practice.

But it just didn’t seem possible not to stop, first for the clouds.

Then stopped for the rabbit-statue bridge, after speeding over which, hitting the brakes lightly on the turn, getting this shot first,

then returning to get a shot of McCullough Creek from the bridge

and on, trying hard not to stop for every beckoning image.

But this was mid-July, about the peak time for beckoning images.

Like this one of the ever-photogenic compass plant framed by clouds, walnut leaves, Monarda and purple coneflowers,

With soft mist in the distance.

Found the spot between the little trees where I’ve seen Liatris blooms every year since I started observing the Meadowbrook Prairie.

The Liatris (not obvious in this photo) were just starting to bloom. Here, too, were compass plants. It really is a good year for them.

Here are more, under the clouds, with mist.

The mist slowly dispersed as I watched.

Bouquet shots abounded, here featuring purple coneflowers, Monarda, and false sunflowers.

Saw Culver’s root,

the sky with delicate and varied clouds and masses of flowers below,

royal catchfly(!), but not up close,

the patch in front of the observation deck, the one that blooms earlier than the ones in the middle of the prairie near the unpaved path, more swirling, expanding clouds,

ironweed and yellow coneflower,

yet more dramatic compass plants,

the sky and a bouquet shot,

a dense bouquet,

purple coneflowers(!!),

and yellow coneflowers and Monarda,

the signature of July!

How fortunate to be here, however briefly, to pass through and take them all in!

Saturday 14 July 2018. Tour des “Prairielets”

It was 68 degrees F under thinly cloudy skies at 6:15 this morning as I solved the question of where to go by deciding to visit a number of spots with native prairie plantings.

On the way south had to stop for a giant hibiscus,

not in a “prairielet” but compelling. they seem especially impressive this year.

Stopped briefly on the edge of Meadowbrook Park, not a “prairie-let” by any means, but it was on the way,

and how could one not stop to check it out?

Then “Texas-exited” the park to Race Street

and rode southward, turning east on Old Church Road to the Barnhart Prairie Restoration.

Did not find anything spectacular but was glad for the space devoted to prairie plants, and for the bike rack.

From Old Church turned south on First Street. At County Road 1100 N stopped at the pond between First Street and the housing subdivision to behold the blooming pink lotus!

Couldn’t get very close to it, but even from a distance the dabs of pink among the large, round leaves were striking.

Continued southward, wondering whether the roadside prairie I’d seen before in this area was still there or whether it may have been mowed. And then, there it was!

At the edge of a carefully mowed lawn with planted evergreens could make out stalks of compass plants.

Up close, saw yellow coneflowers and purple coneflowers, and Monarda.

And there, amid cup plant and small milkweed foliage and Culver’s root flowers, as I’d hoped, was royal catchfly!

It was a little far from the road and on the other side of a ditch, but I zoomed it in for a documentary photo.

The strip of prairie plants continued southward, and I expected to see more royal catchfly, if memory served; did not expect this,

the utter profusion of bright red flower-stars!

And there were several patches, some close enough to get more detail than from the one at the other end.

Also was able to photograph them associated with different other plants.

It was a thrill to see this abundance of red flowers at the very peak of their bloom!

Then headed back to town to the little prairie garden behind the Natural Resources Building, on Pennsylvania Avenue. Saw something cool there of which I didn’t remember the identity, but which I recalled seeing on the “Tall-Grass Praires of Illinois” poster.

(Consulting the poster later revealed that it was flowering spurge, Euforbia corollata.) There were milkweeds I wasn’t sure of:

the blooms were darker pink and the leaves narrower than those of common milkweed, but they didn’t quite look like swamp milkweed, either. Later research suggested it might be prairie milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii).

There were fresh blooms of rattlesnake master.

And, set off by a handsome cluster of wild quinine flowers,

there was more royal catchfly!

Then rode on and, finally, stopped at the prairie planting at Florida and Orchard.

There was rosinweed (blooms of which have not been especially abundant this year), Monarda,

purple coneflower,

blue vervain,

and Culver’s root.

Was glad to have located so many prairie flowers in a relatively small area.

And all this bloom is one reason why my vote for best month of the year goes to July.