Sunday 1 July 2018. Sunrise, a Ride East on Old Church, and Lots of Compass Plants at Meadowbrook

It was 73 degrees F under partly cloudy skies at 5:15 this morning as I headed south on Race Street on Rhododendron.

Wanted to, and did, catch the early summer sunrise!

Wondered about everything that was blooming at Meadowbrook but first headed to Old Church and East toward Yankee Ridge.

The corn was almost supernatural looking with its ears and tassels on this first day of July!

Stopped to see spiderwort along the Barnhart Prairie Restoration.

A spike of Desmodium (tick trefoil) rose above the purple and yellow coneflowers

Culver’s root blooms were sent off by the erect spade-shapes of prairie dock leaves.

Then continued east and got a view from the “summit ”

of the Yankee Ridge moraine. Almost as beautiful as looking out over the ocean. Perhaps.

Rode in to Meadowbrook as far as the garden plots and then dismounted and walked Rhododendron toward the Art and Billie Spomer prairie.

McCullough Creek was full and “babbling” under the little wooden bridge.

The path into the prairie was flanked by lush vegetation.

In the path of the rising sun were many dewy tall compass plants,

heralding the splendor of the emerging summer prairie bloom. (My, those compass plants were abundant!) So much to see, on another day.

I’ve gotten out of the routine of longish bike rides so was feeling some fatigue. So it goes.

Still, was extra glad to have been out communing with the landscape.

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Saturday 30 June 2018. KRT to Geschenk

It was 76 degrees F under partly cloudy skies this morning at 7 as I departed for St. Joseph via the KRT.

Had to start later than I would have preferred because the Geschenk cafe, which I’ve wanted to try, doesn’t open till 8 am on Saturdays.

Rode pretty much directly to the straight-line KRT, soon amid expanses of soybeans and especially corn. Noticed two kinds of corn smells: one of Fritos (not Tostitos or Doritos) corn chips, the other like the pot of water left after boiling sweet corn.

Along the trail were some native prairie plants (spiderwort, yellow coneflower, false sunflower, Monarda) but the landscape belonged to exotics, like mullein

and soapwort.

But had to admit I liked their floral presence. It was a way of accepting what I couldn’t change (would that they all were natives!) at that moment, and was rewarded with joy.

Dickcissels on utility lines and in shrubs sang all along the way.

Saw at least one monarch and quite a few black butterflies with yellow near the bottom edge.

The temperature was starting to climb.

Crossed the bridge over the Salt Fork,

stopping to observe the flotsam and jetsam collected on its north side.

and rode into St. Joe, to the Geschenk cafe.

Which I just noticed was in a Masonic Temple.

Had a great Florentine egg wrap and cafe latte and worked on the blog at Geschenk. Sat close to the front window, and the atmosphere was very pleasant, except maybe for the TV playing instead of music. The young barista was very pleasant and I thought it would be nice to bring a family member or friend here.

Also wrote a quick letter that I mailed from the St. Joseph post office and then headed westward into the now-high, unimpeded sun. Did wish it were earlier.

Tried not to lengthen the trip (felt hot and tired) by stopping but did get drawn to the white (exotic) morning glories.

The glaring sun and heat made the ride a little less pleasant than earlier, but tried to allow this measured discomfort and to imagine it as any situation in life that didn’t feel especially good but where there was nothing to do but endure it.

Overall I enjoyed this latest ride on the KRT and my visit to Geschenk in St Joseph.

Sunday 24 June 2018. All the Way to St. Joe on the KRT

It was 64 degrees F under clearing skies at 6:20 this morning as I rolled Rhododendron down the driveway to head to St, Joseph on the Kickapoo Rail to Trail. The weather ap indicated fog, but by the time I got rolling it had pretty much cleared, leaving dew drops on the vegetation and spiderwebs.

Rode east on Main Street and stopped at Weaver Park to catch the bloom there:

Saw lots of lavender-pink Monarda,

some yellow

and purple coneflowers,

horse nettle,

and the stately foliage of cup plants.

Along Weaver Park saw branches of elm; survivors of the mid-century devastation?

Rode straight eastward out on the trail, feeling the rhythm of the rotating pedals.

Here at some things I saw but wasn’t able to photograph:

Singing dickcissels

Swooping goldfinches

A thirteen-lined ground squirrel (!?!)

Two black butterflies

Two monarch butterflies

One or two groundhogs

Noticed that the black-eyed Susans looked pristine and free of disease,

which may be why I didn’t pass them by as I often do and stoped to get a photograph of one.

The soapwort were abundant and lovely, not native, but fresh and of just the shade of pink my sister Vickie would have loved,

some accented with the foliage of prairie dock and common ragweed (which are native.)

Sumac on the south side of the trail made a handsome border for this bean field in the morning light.

There were mullein (not native) with beautiful, fuzzy, dewey foliage.

Saw a flower that might be another exotic but it caught my eye.

[Later looked through my handy Wildflowers and Weeds book and came up with moth mullein (Verbascum blatteria).]

At Full’s Siding stopped to check out the clever book- exchange.

Have to remember to bring something next time.

Saw post-fog dew-beaded spiderwebs among the (non-native) chicory.

Crossed the Salt Fork on the lovely wood-surfaced, metal-sided bridge.

Stopped for a view of the St Joe Post Office.

and of a coffee shop I need to come back to try.

On the way back stopped for the scene- punctuating red hollyhock.

And for more beautiful pink soapwort.

Spiderwort (native!) was abundant but couldn’t get close to it without getting down into the vegetation.

Headed back home after another soul-filling passage (and ready for the next one) on the KRT!

Saturday 23 June 2018. Catching up with the Bloom at Meadowbrook, and Catching a Little Rain Just South

It was 64 degrees F under cloudy skies at

7:00 this morning (just before which spotted this perfect exoskeleton of a nymphal cicada) as I went to the garage expecting to take Rhododendron to the KRT to St. Joseph.

But Rhododendron was not in the garage; after a very brief moment of panic remembered that my husband picked me up from my job assignment at Clark-Lindsey yesterday and I’d forgotten to load the bike in the car.

So the plan changed from the KRT to a circle of Meadowbrook and maybe a ride south on Race Street. l drove to CL and parked in the lot: unlocked my bike, and headed east along Windsor Road for a counter-clockwise circle of the park.

The spiderwort still were plenty evident, but they bore lots of brown seed heads, indicating that more of their bloom was behind rather than ahead of them.

But false sunflowers,

purple coneflowers, black-eyed Susans

yellow coneflowers,

and compass plants

were just beginning their bloom.

Farther down the path, at the viewing platform, the apparently expanding (compared to previous recent years) patch of lead plant was in mid-bloom,

as was the Baptisia.

Framed by lead plant blooms was this new inflorescence of rattlesnake master.

Decided that lead plant is much more spectacular in detail than from a distance.

Noticed that wild quinine, also in mi-bloom,

was more abundant than I remember from previous years.

Noticed a patch of pasture rose already full of green hips.

All along through the prairie, the common milkweed still was full of fragrant pink spheres of flowers, but didn’t stop to photograph them till I saw this one next to an early Monarda bloom.

Noticed that the wet place where the irises and cardinal flowers appear (in their respective times) was quite grown up with willows.

Tree swallows (there were three, all flew at my approach,and one returned) perched on a bird house.

Continued on and crossed McCullough Creek (which was quite full) at the rabbit statue bridge,

opposite my usual direction of travel.

Did not go straight out to Race Street but continued north on the path and exited near the “wonky Christmas tree,”

which looked like it had been trimmed (or had grown) since I observed it last.

Turned south on Race Street toward the open farm fields, where there was incredible corn!

Light rain began to fall before I reached Old Church so turned back

Was surprised by two deer, right next to the road.

They were completely unperturbed by my stopping to photograph them.

Then returned to the CL lot, packed the bike into the car and headed home, somewhat better synchronized with the season.

Thursday 14 June 2018. Sunrise on the KRT

It was 61 degrees F and partly cloudy at a little after 5 this morning as I departed for the Kickapoo Rail to Trail bike trail and points east.

At last I made it I made it out before sunrise! At last I had a bike ride! My early hours have be taken lately with other activities, and this was my first time out for days, as well as on the KRT since any native prairie plants had started to bloom.

Oh, the early morning sky!

Saw not one but two foxes, neither of which photographed well enough to bother trying to show the dots to indicate their presence.

Stopped at the edge of Weaver Park, where there were lots of orange butterfly milkweed in bloom

as well as other other early summer flowers I didn’t take time to photograph.

At the beginning of the KRT trail, stopped to view the sunrise!

Was glad to see it after having missed it for so long.

Soon after passing Walmart rode through the little wooded stretch that still was a little dark.

Got into the soothing rhythm of pedaling straight ahead, on and on through the subtly changing landscape. Got a view of the corn with clouds above.

Central Illinois!

Rode as far as Full’s Siding then turned back.

Saw fewer prairie flowers than I expected (no spiderwort to speak of!?). But this feral hollyhock was striking.

Near High Cross Road and the beginning of the trail I turned back to see the sun well clear of the horizon but still low in the spreading clouds

Stopped to get a view of the weedy but stately mullein.

And returned home to take up the rest of the day.

Saturday 9 June 2018. Dodging the Rain

It was 69 degrees F and partly cloudy at 5:45 this morning as I headed for my job assignment in Savoy.

Stopped for a photo of the yellow cabbage roses on Race Street,

which made a beautiful picture, even if the plant appears beset with disease

Alas.

Headed west on Windsor Road, stopping near the Polinatarium to look east and view the sunrise,

one of the joys of being an early riser.

Near Neil Street, at the sign for the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration, stopped to catch the very first tiny blooms of the lead plant.

Arrived at work in plenty of time and, as always, enjoyed my shift.

But about half an hour before it was time to go, the sky opened up and the rain that I was convinced would wait till I got home arrived in abundance. And continued to fall past my clock-out time.

So I sat in the lobby of my workplace and watched the rain outside, checking the radar on my phone periodically.

After twenty minutes or so, decided to venture out into the now very light rain, at least to the Starbuck’s on South Neil. It seemed to be clearing up some as I rode and considered makings break for home, but then there was a clap of thunder, and so reverted to the Starbuck’s plan. About half a block away the rain fell more heavily, and I got fairly wet.

As soon as I walked in the barista said the hand dryer in the bathroom might help. I accepted the invitation, and in fact, it helped a lot!

Then I hung out and had a spinach feta egg wrap and coffee and worked on an older blog post.

Soon the rain subsided, and after a pleasant time of writing headed back homeward, passing on the way this little “waterfall,”

Rode homeward on St. Mary’s Road and stopped to see a horse near a recent puddle.

Then stopped briefly at the prairie planting on Florida and Orchard and saw one of the many handsome pairs of milkweed beetles.

and proceeded, dry-shod (and dry-clothed), toward home.

Saturday 2 June 2018. Notes on This Beautifully Cool Morning’s Commute

It was 55 degrees F (!) and mostly clear at 5:33 this morning.

Decided I had time to stop at Meadowbrook Park on the way to my job assignment in Savoy.

Without stopping at the rabbit-statue bridge, crossed over McCullough Creek, turned the corner, and got a look at the sunrise.

Then took the “Texas exit” (across grass) back to Race Street.

Saw a deer rather close to the road

apparently not perturbed by my staring at it for a photo.

A little farther down Race Street smelled strong skunk odor.

Then the landscape opened out,

which is always a thrill (and this photo does it no justice!), especially around sunrise!

Rode west on Curtis Road to Prospect. Had a little time to see the sunken pond there, with Coreopsis

an early yellow coneflower,

and plenty of Penstemon.

After work, on the way back, stopped at the prairie planting on Florida and Orchard, above which appeared an indigo bunting!

(the bluish blip a little below and to the right of center).

In the “prairie-let” were the requisite-for- early-June spiderwort and Penstemon,

the Penstemon, again, in full (probably brief) bloom. The false sunflowers were beginning to bloom;

more than one bearing a nicely contrasting box elder ( I think) bug.

More riding would be better, but every moment outside on the bike is good