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.

Tuesday 21 November 2017. A Brief but Restorative Fall Vélo to Mushrooms and Meadowbrook

It was 38 degrees F at about 6:40 this morning under a bright sky spread with some thin clouds.

At last got out of the house an on Shadow to touch the fall of 2017, which has been going really darned fast!

Stopped to see the Amanita muscaria mushrooms, growing slowly (or arrested in their growth) in the relative cold since last week.

The floor of the spruce grove was not covered with mushrooms, but there was a nice view looking out from it toward the outside.

Continued southward on Race Street and noticed a maple tree to which some yellow leaves still clung.

At Meadowbrook Park was unpleasantly surprised to see the path closed.

But saw no action of the type described on the barricade and disobediently proceeded along the path.

Stopped at the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek

Where there still was, somehow, a lot of green foliage, and turned back toward home.

Sunday 12 November 2017. Velo Noir

It was 38 degrees F under cloudy (occasionally yielding light rain) skies at above 7:30 am as I took Shadow (also newly rejuvenated by the wonderful wizards of Neutral Cycle) out to Meadowbrook Park! At last!!

Passed the once mushroom-harboring grove of spruce trees without expectation of seeing any mushrooms, nor spotting any with a casual glance, but my eye was caught by a red balloon in a place where once Amanita muscaria mushrooms had been.


Once stopped to photograph the “false mushroom,” decided to give a closer look to the area, just to be sure there actually was nothing there.

But to my surprise, there were mushrooms!


They were not present in large numbers, but they were good-sized and robust, mostly in early stages of “fruiting.”


And here, like a reverse of The Wizard of Oz, I fade to black and white.


So, I fell for a Facebook challenge. (Thanks, Sheila!) It is a different perspective.

At Meadowbrook Park did not want to pass a little family with a stroller and dog to take my usual route so headed in a clockwise direction around the park.

Stopped to observe the already chromatically subdued landscape with the black-and-white modification of the iPhone camera.


The black and white format was good for capturing the texture of mountain mint seed heads, which I’ve always liked but found hard to photograph.


Saw seed heads of rattlesnake master.


Got an extreme closeup of a little spider crawling (still awake?!) on a sculpture.

It made apparent how limestone is made of masses of tiny shell fragments. Also it kind of looked to me like a belly button.

Saw Baptisia pods, which are always good for a little drama in the fading prairie landscape.

Curled compass plant foliage showed its prickles.

Goldenrod seed heads were like a layer of foam.

At the Marker statue searched for any remaining bottle gentians; there was only this:

a Halloween version of the flower, which didn’t look much different in color. Ah, the yearly passage to winter.

Stopped at the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek.

It looked especially dense and tangled, especially the reflections, even with fading vegetation.

On the way out of the park found a scene that actually did not look so sinister in the mandatory black and white.

Don’t know if I’ll continue this black and white approach, but this time it was fun.

Saturday 11 November 2017. Fast Fall

It was 25 degrees F as I made my way through the neighborhood on Rhododendron at 8:15 am. It hardly qualified as a ride. But wanted to bear a bit of witness to this blitz-autumn.

The cold came suddenly and the ginkgo leaf fall was unceremonious.


These ginkgo leaves never got to be gold. Still, the subtle range of their greens made a nice texture.

Farther along, on Oregon Street, was an uncommon (“umbrella?”) magnolia tree that, under the mandate of last night’s cold, had dropped a big pile of its large, exotic-looking leaves.

They kind of looked like fish, I thought.

I like how we anticipate the general sequence of seasonal changes but always are met with surprises.

Saturday 4 November 2017. Cranksgiving!

It was about 54 degrees F, not too cold, at 1:18 pm under November-grey skies, the air misty and with a hint of fog.

Locked Rhododendron (my road bike) to the rack outside the Bike Project and went downstairs to register for Cranksgiving 2017. Cranksgiving is an event where participants ride bikes to area grocery stores and buy various Thanksgiving-type food items for the Central Illinois Food Bank. Mostly it’s just a non-competitive food drive, but there were silly “prizes” for the first person to finish and the person who collected the most food.

On registering I received a “manifest” of needed items and a nifty spoke card.


This would be my fourth (at least the fourth, I’m pretty sure), Cranksgiving.

In the past it has taken me most of a Sunday afternoon to do the circuit of grocery stores in Champaign, Savoy, and Urbana for Cranksgiving. But this year it was on Saturday, and I had to teach a yoga class at three. So instead of going to several stores decided just to have a pleasant ride to Aldi in Urbana and pick up all the items from one store.

To start the event, the participants gathered outside the Bike Project for a group photo


And off we went!

After stopping at the ATM, headed toward Main Street, observing the so-recently turning leaves

and eastward.

Traffic was light on East Main Street.


Near the grove of oak trees by the train tracks, across from the Dart plastics factory checked for foxes but didn’t see any.


Stopped briefly at Weaver Park for a fall-status view.


Then continued on East Main to University Avenue. Was not sure exactly how to get down University from Main Street to the Aldi store–there was not a direct path and it involved crossing some pretty fast vehicle traffic. So crossed University and walked just outside the left side of the road. Was not crazy about this choice and resolved to do something different on the way back.

Got to Aldi, which was not too crowded,


and directly picked up stuffing mix, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, and a boxed kit for sweet potato pie.


Paid for the items and tucked the receipt, with my manifest, into the envelope provided by the Cranksgiving organizers, packed the goods in my backpack, and headed back.

Noticed a sidewalk along University Avenue and rode on it.


I know sidewalks are supposed to be verboten to bikes, but as long as you watch for pedestrians, there are places where riding on them just makes more sense than threading through fast traffic.

Got back to the Bike Project just in time for someone making a delivery to leave the door open (he, uninformed about Cranksgiving, was about to lock it, for security reasons, and leave!)
Guess I was the first one back.

Didn’t feel the kind of satisfied fatigue that I had in previous, all-afternoon Cranksgivings, but was done in time to teach my 3:00 yoga class, and it still was good to have been a part of the event!

Saturday 14 October 2017. Patience Rewarded with the Last Bottle Gentians

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,

compass plant

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.