It was about 64 degrees F at about 7 am under clouds that were breaking up, occasionally letting the sun through.
My schedule lately has prevented me from biking much, alas, but today there was nothing to stop me from riding to Meadowbrook Park to catch the last of the bottle gentian bloom, if, in fact, there were any flowers left.
So headed off on Rhododendron, riding south on Race Street.
Stopped at the place where Amanita muscaria mushrooms had been abundant for the last three years, at least. But did not see a single one.
And one of the spruce trees looked quite bad. It seems like yet another result of stress from recent droughts. This blog is documenting a little piece of a larger phenomenon. Alas.
At Meadowbrook, there was about to be a walk/run to raise money for breast cancer research and support; pink signs were posted about the trail.
But did not run into any crowds.
Saw water again (at last, rain) in McCullough Creek below the rabbit-statue bridge.
Then rode along the path toward the Marker statue and the bottle gentian site. Looked on the way among the willows where I saw some bottle gentians last year, but today there was no sign of them.
The prairie was still green underneath, and above the tree leaves had not turned color, but overall it was somber. Many goldenrod plants were snowy with seeds and their vehicles .
Saw a deer out where the Liatris had earlier bloomed.
Then at the Marker statue looked for the gentians. At first, there seemed to be nothing but dry grass and flowers gone to seed. And I felt sad; could they really have left no trace after two weeks?
I lingered and kept looking, even though it seemed unlikely that more looking would produce any gentians.
Then spotted a single worn bloom, and was grateful for that.
Keep looking, and in a while found a cluster of blooms, worn but still beautiful, as old gentian flowers are.
Then, for the sake of revisiting a spot where I’d seen gentians before, I checked it, and amazingly found one plant, then another.
Then went back to the first place I saw them and as if by magic, there were more, and fresher flowers.
It was comforting and uplifting to see them all. The end was coming but had not yet arrived.
Then walked Rhododendron onto the soft path (where bikes and dogs are prohibited but where I recently saw both a guy riding a wide-tired bike and a guy walking a handsome chocolate Labrador retriever. At low volume it might not actually be a problem. I walk my bike; maybe that doesn’t count, I don’t know.
Along the soft path were wintry manifestations of flowers: rosin weed,
the curled leaves of which were like illuminated manuscript decorations,
stiff goldenrod, I think,
with clouds above, and Baptisia
with black pods but still plenty of green foliage.
Even found an outlying remaining cream gentian bloom.
Note the cropped stem.
Got a closeup of a dry, prickly compass plant stem.
Then crossed the little wooden bridge over McCullough Creek and headed back,
feeling a sense of impending conclusion but still nourished by the short- and the longer-lasting forms of the landscape.