Saturday 23 February 2019. Winter Wears On

It was 38 degrees F under cloudy skies at 11:20 this morning, as I headed home on Rhododendron from my work assignment.

Was delighted to have the time to make a loop of Meadowbrook Park on the way!

Actually, made a very brief stop just outside the park on my way to work.

The sound of honking (a higher-pitched honk, it seemed, than than from our local geese, but can’t be sure) from above made me stop, look up, and get out the iPhone.

Quite an ordered aggregation.

Then, on the way back, entered Meadowbrook at the unofficial southwest entrance

and started the loop at the rabbit-statue bridge

before proceeding around the south side of the park.

Winter (wind and rain and snow and repeated freezing-thawing ) had worn down a lot of the features of the prairie, but some structure, like these compass plants stalks, and even a lone stalk of prairie grass, survived.

Rode along McCullough Creek after crossing the Windsor/ Vine bridge and stopped to see live alders and dead ash (most likely) trees.

Noticed the alders’ persistent, separate flower structures (which look like blunt pretzel sticks and little pine cones).

Alder is not a tree I grew up knowing. It’s nice to discover new species all through one’s life.

Thus were the simple wonders of this winter morning.

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Thursday 31 January 2019. A Short Ride Below Zero

Well, January almost got clean away without my posting about any bike rides. Must say that along with other distractions, the weather often was not inviting for biking. Today snow and ice covered lawns and many sidewalks in the neighborhood, but the streets were mostly clear, so I got Shadow out of the garage for a January ride to the yoga studio.

It was -6 degrees F(!) and partly sunny at 8 am, and Cedar Street, normally filled with school-day traffic at this time of day, was empty.

School was closed because of dangerously low temperatures.

My head was wrapped in a scarf and covered with a hood against the cold, so for this short ride I dispensed with the usual helmet.

Pedaled down the empty street toward the yoga studio. There was little wind, but still the air was so cold that breathing it was like drawing in a different substance.

Soon reached the yoga studio.

Did not even lock Shadow; who would steal a bike on the day like this?

On the way back, it was hard to ride because the chain kept slipping: probably because the links were so stiff. It was enough riding in the harsh weather. But got to log a trip for January!

Tuesday 25 December 2018. Christmas Day Ride to Japan House Garden

It was 36 degrees F at 7:20 this Christmas morning as I got Shadow our for a ride through the quiet neighborhood to the Japan House garden.

Just north of Japan House and its garden, stopped for a view of the U of I Arboretum through sweet gum branches,

which decorated the sunrise with their spiky, star-like seed receptacles.

Rode into the Japan House Garden among the bald cypress trees and stopped to observe the hellebores,

which were dark green and leafy (they seem to have a living presence all year) but had yet to bloom this cycle.

Walked close to the pond and observed piles of dead leaves on the shore merging with inverted images of trees, reflections on its surface.

Looking toward the rising sun near the weeping willow, spotted a well-defined, rising sun-dog

and its reflection in the pond, a fitting image for a special day.

Then headed back home to do the usual family celebration of Christmas.

Monday 24 December 2018. Long-Awaited Time on the Bike: Meadowbrook and Campus

It was 27 degrees F under clear skies, the just-post full moon bright and sinking westward at about 7:10 this morning as I headed toward Meadowbrook Park on Shadow.

It was wonderful to be rolling in the quiet of the Christmas Eve morning, especially since my pleasure rides (still try to commute au vélo when possible) have been growing briefer and farther between.

At Meadowbrook stopped to see the “wonky Christmas tree,”

and also one that portrayed the more standard holiday attitude of upliftment.

rode to the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek,

and zoomed in on trees reflected in the water.

Rode around the outside of the prairie in my usual counterclockwise direction, stopped to see the “dry bouquets,”

and zooming in to the details of a durable old stalk of compass pant.

Then rode west on Windsor Road and north, probably on First Street to stop for coffee and calm at Flying Machine Avionics. (It’s getting to have been a while since it happened….)

Next, meandered to and through the western edge of Campustown, where a huge new design (I believe that’s what it said) building was going up between Krannert Art Museum and Huff Gym, where for decades there had been an open grassy field.

More progress, of some kind.

Then rode north and east and saw yet another huge appartement going up, presumably to be filled by a succession of student tenants.

Change is the constant, everything is in process: seasons, lifetimes, what we call “home.”

Saturday 3 November 2018. Fall Color Arrives at Last!

It was 49 degrees F at 11:20 this morning as I took a detour through Meadowbrook Park on my way home from my work assignment.

Cut across the grass and around the gate to the southwest corner of the park, an unofficial entrance, checked out McCullough Creek below the rabbit-statue bridge, then proceeded clockwise (opposite of my usual direction).

Stopped for orange crab apples set off by the blue sky. Here was some color!

Farther along the path saw a wooly worm (caterpillar) hurrying to get across. Have heard lore about the coloring of woolly worms predicting a harsh or mild winter, but can’t remember the scheme of it.

The prairie was pretty close to finishing with color for the year, though did find the odd purple remnant of New England aster bloom.

Mostly it was dry bouquets.

And here and there, the dark, defined, sculptural, Baptisia pods.

This fall there seemed to be a longer than usual monochrome interlude between the end of the prairie flower bloom and the beginning of fall leaf color. But today, at least among the planted ornamental trees, fall color was upon us.

12 May 2019(?!?)

P.S.

Apologies for months of lapse! Let’s see whether I can figure out how to catch up! Wish me luck!

Wednesday 24 October 2018. A Quick Look at Some Modest Fall Colors

It was 42 degrees F under mostly clear skies at 9:50 this morning as I rode to Flying Machine Avionics for a pour-over of fine coffee and to relax and focus for a little while. It was not much of a ride, but felt I needed to document this peculiar autumn–last week the leaves on just about all of the trees were green, and over the weekend temperatures below freezing and strong winds blew down lots of green leaves (not to mention branches and sticks).

So was little afraid that there would be no fall color this year! And was so sure that the earlier rains would guarantee a great show.

Anyway, there seemed to be some color emerging during the past few days.

It’s still pretty green, but at least some trees are managing to put forth some color, like this one around the corner from the coffee place.

It looks like we will have had another fall color display this year. Whew!

Sunday 21 October 2018. Early Brown Flowers and Late Green Leaves

It was 36 degrees F and sunny at 9:15 (late-! – but not before yoga practice and dog walking) as I headed on Rhododendron to examine the Florida and Orchard streets prairie planting.

On the way noted the effects of yesterday’s wind: lots of sticks and green leaves on the ground.

Noted also that although it was mid-October the tree leaves barely had begun to turn color. Here is one of few on its way, at least.

The prairie had pretty much completed its bloom for the season, the extent of which was a slight shock and more than a slight disappointment.

But the seed heads of the spent flowers presented their own austere beauty.

Here are goldenrod ,

and crispy cup plants.

Found just a touch of color in the last of the New England asters,

but otherwise it was mostly shades of brown: stiff goldenrod ,

another goldenrod species, showy goldenrod, I think

wild blue sage,

and whimsical pods and seeds of common milkweed.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping for some fall leaf-color before the coming months of winter browns and grays.