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.


Sunday 8 April 2018. 30 Days of Biking Day 8. Trelease Woods, Weaver Park, and the KRT

It was a degree F warmer (23 as opposed to 22 this morning) than yesterday, under mostly clear skies and again with some wind from the north as I rode east on Washington Street toward Cottonwood Road.

Am so glad that 30 Days of Biking is getting me motivated to ride more (for various reasons my mileage had been dwindling), especially since the weather has not been a great invitation itself.

Stopped at Weaver Park, crossing the non-trail

to get to the alleged buffalo-wallow pond.

At the pond were the mandatory red-winged blackbirds and, alas, Canada geese, though only a few. They didn’t seem quite awake.

But also, a quick look revealed a mallard duck, a coot,

(more, I noticed, farther out) and a grebe,

which looked like it had just found something to eat, or perhaps some nesting material.

Saw no teals, as I have in previous years, and it was too cold for amphibian song, but was not disappointed.

Came back to Washington Street and kept going in the direction of the still-low but bright sun until Cottonwood Road and turned north, where the wind greeted me and introduced a bit of rigor to the ride.

Crossed the Kickapoo Rail to Trail (KRT) bike trail (which runs from Urbana to St. Joseph, paralleling the highway) US 150, I-74

and the Saline Branch,

going as far as Trelease Woods,

where several deer galloped within the fence. Did not see them jump to get in; maybe there was easier access on the other side. Then turned back, rode to the beloved KRT trail and headed west. Saw to the south a pond I hadn’t been aware of until friend asked if I’d seen it. Did not see waterfowl there but made a mental note to return and check again, Might have loved to ride all the way to St. Joe, but suspected my extremities would get cold and reduce the enjoyment of the ride, which is one reason I’ll welcome warmer weather when it gets here!And apparently made it the rest of the way home.

Sunday 11 March 2018. A Quick Spring-Forward Visit to the Rabbit-Statue Bridge

It was 32 degrees F and cloudy at 7:45 on this morning of the lost hour, i.e., “spring forward” to Daylight Savings Time. Must say I felt the absence of that hour quite distinctly and understood the arguments of those who would do away with the custom. And yet, I still like the idea of an observance of the seasons that we get to feel so physically. Welcome, spring!

Planned to wake up by riding on Shadow to Meadowbrook Park and did begin the trip,

But very early on, as I got a shot of this wonderful early iris,

a message came in from my new employer that a shift was available pretty much immediately. So much for today’s ride.

But did determine to squeeze in a fast trip to the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek,

where the water still was pretty high.

And it was infinitely better than not going out at all!

Sunday 4 March 2018. Pre-Spring Meadowbrook with Red-Winged Blackbirds

It was 31 degrees F under clear skies at 7:15 this morning as I rode out on Shadow toward Meadowbrook Park.

Stopped to see the snowdrops in front of the Lincoln statue between Urbana High School and Carle Park.

Then stopped to check “my” apple tree for “cling-ons,” of which there were two,

this one having retained more color.

At Meadowbrook the early (though not so early as I’d wanted: the dog-walk happened in that earlier light) sunlight slanted across turf grass and under the hawthorns.

At the rabbit -statue bridge, McCulough and Douglas creeks still were high.

Was struck by the brownness of the scene, even with the cloudless blue sky.

Yet the approach of spring was persistently asserted by the red-winged blackbirds!

Today it sounded like they were saying, “Vote for me!”

Then made a fairly continuous circle around Meadowbrook Park with few stops, though the curled shape of a dry, scaly brown prairie dock leaf caught my eye.

Once again, however, it looked much better to my eye than through the camera.

Farther on, near the Vine Street entrance to the park were newly planted hawthorn trees.

Was glad there was an attempt to replant at the spot where trees recently had died. Hope the coming conditions will allow them to prosper.

Sunday 25 February 2018. High Water and Breaking Clouds at Meadowbrook Park

It was 34 degrees F with a stiff south breeze at 7:38 this morning as I set out on Shadow for Meadowbrook Park.

Felt heavy with the sameness for so long of the grey-brown land-and-sky-scape, which did little to lift my current thoughts of dismay. From feeling like I’ve not been giving enough time to my yoga practice or to friends and family, to thoughts of friends with chronic illness, to the struggles of my children, relationships, our principle-less (nihilist!) president, to the loss of trees from climate change….

For the first part of this morning’s ride, felt like I was under a heavy, grey mass.

But after a little way, noticed that being dressed comfortably in the almost-freezing morning was a little victory against the grey. Being mobile outside was a little victory.

Seeing the water rush through McCullough Creek was a little victory.

Seeing the clouds break up was a little victory.

They reminded me that if earthquakes and floods and wars have not extinguished all joy so far, I trust that somehow it will survive, if we are willing to accept small victories.

On the way back from the prairie saw wingstem remains standing in front of some tree branches,

making a swaying vertical pattern.

Farther along, at the Meadowbrook sensory garden, pioneer snowdrops were emerging.

Oh brave, welcome harbingers of the inexorable (so far!) renewal of life!

Saturday 13 January 2018. A Short, Cold Trip with Sticking Brakes

This morning at about 9 it was 11 degrees F, the sky clear blue with a 12 mph north wind.

Did not plan a long trip, but wanted at least to visit the Japan House garden.

Unfortunately, the condensation precipitated by suddenly warm after very cold weather had frozen Shadow’s brake cables. The back brake could not be engaged at all; the front worked a little but then would not release all the way. So had to pedal against the break. Alas. It was good exercise, but I thought not great for the brakes themselves.

So just rode to the yoga studio to prepare for this afternoon’s class and then to the coffee shop to catch up on the backlog of winter posts.

At least wanted some winter image, so on the way to the coffee shop stopped to look into the Boneyard Creek from the bridge on Lincoln and Green.

Lo and behold, there was a pair of ducks managing to swim on the surprisingly unfrozen water.

Also stopped for a view of some bare trees on Lincoln Avenue.

This one made me think of preparing to go from Salamba Sarvangasana (supported shoulder stand) to Parsvaikapada Sarvangasana (one leg to the side shoulder stand).

It was not much of a ride but much better than none!

Sunday 3 December 2017. Another Short, Cold Ride on the KRT

It was 34 degrees F and clear, with barely a breeze at 6:52 this morning as I wheeled Rhododendron down the driveway and out toward the Kickapoo Rail to Trail and St. Joseph.

It was cold enough to worry about freezing (though not literally) fingers and toes so wasn’t sure how far I’d actually get. Would just play by ear and see. Tried to psych up about restraint with photos so as to retain warmth.

Headed east on Main Street and stopped for a view of the oak-grove by the train tracks, across from the Dart plastics factory.

Despite the early start, saw no foxes. It (they) are on a different schedule (or location) for some reason.

Also stopped for a quick view of almost-winter Weaver Park with the sun coming up.

The goldenrod had lost most of their foamy seed-carriers. The scene seemed to call for black and white.

Horse nettle fruit (related to and resembling cherry tomatoes but poisonous) was abundant.

On the ground near the sidewalk were frosted leaves.

Rode on to the head of the wonderful, beloved trail.

Behind Walmart in the wet area were lots of cattails in the process of releasing their fluffy seed-dispersers.

The wooden rail was frosty.

A little farther on, the sun flashed among the thin trees.

Still farther along, seed-head-topped grass lay flattened along the trail, as if in homage to the cyclists,

of which I was one, and thank you!

Noticed tracks (human, canine, avian) in the not completely packed gravel; no doubt there were deer tracks, too. But didn’t stop to photograph them.

Did eventually photograph the ruts being worn into the trail by bike tires.

Not sure whether these might become problematic. Maybe the occasional application of a steam (I’m sure that’s not exactly the equipment anymore, but you get the idea) roller will take care of it.

The ride, except for cold hands and feet, was extremely pleasant. The low sun was far enough to the south to not be directly in my eyes. Birds lifted, spread, wheeled, settled on the brushy vegetation along the trail. Frost spread the morning light across the subtle curves of the landscape. The monotony of the straight trail induced an inward rhythm, an awareness of subtle differences from one repetition of the scene of landscape to the next. But my hands were cold. Brr!

Turned around at 1800 E (Mt Olive Cemetery).

On the way back, on East Main Street, passed a young woman carrying roller skates over her shoulder who was walking along Main Street and stopped to ask something of a couple standing in front of their house. They must have refused because the young woman responded with angry words. I sympathized with the couple and kept riding on. But then I judged that I could handle an interaction with her and stopped the bike to wait, then turned and walked toward her. She spoke angrily at first but then was very apologetic, saying she needed cigarettes and did I have a dollar? She seemed reasonably well-groomed so apparently not far from some kind of stability. But she made me think of people close to me who struggle with perhaps similar problems. Who knows what form of suffering she carried just then? I said I did, fished out two, and handed them to her. She thanked me profusely and didn’t ask for any thing else but wished me well. And I her, and rode on. Really I was not much help. But still was glad for the small positive connection.