Sunday 10 December 2017. Ice on the Creek

It was 23 degrees F and partly cloudy

at about 7 this morning as I rolled Shadow down the driveway and headed south to Meadowbrook Park.

On the way, stopped at the spruce grove to see whether anything was left of the Amanitamuscaria mushrooms.

Surprisingly, there was one in pretty good shape, considering the weather

and also one farther along in the process of degradation.

But as far as I could tell, that was all.

Got a seasonal shot of the south end of the grove.

Rode on into the south wind, which was surprisingly icy on my face.

At Meadowbrook stopped to view the “wonky Christmas tree.”

Then rode to the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek, where there was ice (not solid) on the water.

It was good to observe this indication of winter, of this distinctive, even if austere, time.

Stopped also for oddly twisted trees.

The absence of surrounding leaves and distracting flowers lets their forms stand out.

But it was the clouds that beguiled me this morning.

They were full of dimples and ripples.

And over the prairie, they opened to gaps of blue sky.

On the way back, near the Vine Street bridge, stopped at an old (seven or eight years, at least) beaver sculpture.

which was surrounded by new growth.

Wondered when the next generation of Meadowbrook beavers would arrive.

Riding homeward, worked hard to send warmth to my fingers. It seemed to be at least somewhat successful.


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.

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.

Sunday 11 June 2017. To Philo, Center of the Universe, and Back

It was 66 degrees F under a cloudless sky at 5:50 this morning as I rode Rhododendron south on Race Street.

It sounded so calm outside, but the phone weather ap said there was a 9 mph south wind. Have learned to respect that information so planned for a trip to Philo IL, Center of the Universe, according to its water tower.

Indeed, riding south presented me with a noticeable headwind.

Stopped, as I almost always do, at the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek.


Noticed dying trees.

Too common, alas.

Saw the continued bloom of spiderwort


and Penstemon


Used restraint to continue around the prairie without further stopping to Windsor Road. Rode east to Philo Road, south to Old Church then east again.


Rode on Old Church Road to Yankee Ridge

that lovely little oasis of vantage and sacred silence, then rode around the corner onto Yankee Ridge Road, past a friend’s amazing house, complete with extensive prairie landscaping.

Turned east onto section road 900 N (County Highway 18) to Philo.


Rode to the water tower; went off the road along the train tracks to get a view of all the words.


On the way back saw my friend who lives in the amazing prairie-landscaped house, out walking her dog. It was nice to actually stop and talk a bit this time!

Then rode downhill with the wind at my back toward Old Church Road.


Stopped at Barnhart Practice Restoration


Could not see spiderwort but there were lots of Penstemon.


Saw a good number of prairie dock leaves: large, erect, serrated spade-shapes, with the sunlight and shadows showing through them.


Saw spiderwort farther down, along the road, among waving grass flowers.


Stopped on the way back to check for Amanita mushrooms under the spruce trees. They were prostrate and dried up.


Felt a little more centered for having visited Philo this morning.

Saturday 10 June 2017. Worn Flowers at Meadowbrook

It was 66 degrees and mostly sunny at 6:09, on this morning of my father’s 90th birthday, as I wheeled Rhododendron down the driveway and headed south on Race Street.

Stopped for a cabbage rose shot


And checked the Amanita mushrooms, which seemed to be very much on the decline.


Rode directly to Meadowbrook Park and stopped at the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek for the customary shot.

Farther down, in the willowy wet iris territory, Penstemon held forth, but with more brown than white flowers.

Near The Freyfogle overlook went to check the lead plant, which had been munched and damaged by (not unnatractive) beetles.

But the beetles seemed to have eaten their fill and mostly gone, though who knows what was going on with their actual eating-machines, the larvae? This year, at least, it seemed there would be flowers.

Rode to the end of the path at Windsor Road and west on the sidewalk along the park.

There was a lot of green; the spiderwort were past the peak of their bloom. Yet there were some remaining fresh blue daily flowers,

every bit as lovely as the first ones.

Along with the wizened spiderwort were soon to bloom rosinweed


and green blackberry fruit.


The early prairie flowers are finishing as summer, with its own anticipated bloom, draws near!

Saturday 26 November 2016. The First Starkness of November

It was 36 degrees F at 8:25 this morning under clearing skies as, after what seemed like so long, departed for Meadowbrook Park.

Stopped for the mushrooms,
No fresh ones after the freeze,
Only dry remains.


A little way down
Saw a shapely syacamore
With expressive limbs.


At Meadowbrook Park
Crossed the rabbit-statue bridge
Stopped for a photo.


Meadowbrook’s turned brown,
Quite suddenly, since last time,
It made me feel sad.


It always happens,
But today I felt the loss
Way in my innards.


These days, one wonders
Whether next spring still will come.
Or was this the last?

Then, ice on the bridge.
Where suddenly tried to stop;
Nearly took a spill.


Stopped to see the creek.
Getting used to the cleared space
That the stream runs through.


Stark, pointy remains
Of once-large compass flowers
Stood against pale grass.


Farther on there were
Lots of dark indigo pods
Shaking on their stalks.


Will tomorrow come?
Leave that question unanswered.
Just embrace today.

Sunday 20 November 2016. After the Freeze

This morning at 8:14 it was 26 degrees F, the sky with scattered sheets of thin clouds and (unlike yesterday!) minimal wind.

Gingko leaves still green,
Last night’s freeze releasing them,
Rained down to the ground.


Smooth-barked sycamore
Let in light between large leaves
Golden and sun-lit.


Golden corridor
Plenty of leaves are still held
In spite of this freeze.


Checked the last mushrooms.
A small group emerged, quite whole,
Their last bright showing.


It was a harsh year
For these dear Amanitas.
Most succumbed to mold.


Another short trip,
But never too short to see
Some thing beautiful.