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.

Sunday 13 November 2016. Cold Approaches

It was 31 degrees F and (likely) partly cloudy at 8:18 am this morning. Alas, another late start.

Besides the lateness of the hour with its increased traffic (I am spoiled by riding early in the morning), was somewhat discouraged from riding by the cold. Though I love the feeling of pedaling, moving, and drawing deep, fast breath, and thought as always images abounded and beckoned, was not thrilled by the prospect of cold hands. So decided on just a really short ride on Rhododendron.

And what could be a better micro-adventure than to check the Race Street under-spruce Amanita muscaria mushrooms?


They had not stopped coming up from the ground


even with the attack of the “meta-fungus” but there were not many of them left.


Still lots of remains persisted, in all developmental stages, of those taken by the fungus.


Couldn’t help comparing the devastation of the Amanitas to the result of the recent American presidential election.


As I was about to leave, caught a glimpse of another species of mushroom

(but only four of them) that didn’t seem susceptible to the disease that ravaged the Amanitas. I took it as a symbol of hope.

Sunday 6 November 2016. Falling Back au Velo

Rolled Rhododendron out of the garage at 8:20 this morning, on the late side even with the time change (the happy return of the hour we lost last spring!), even with the extra daylight it provided. What can I say except that other first-thing-in the-morning activities, like Pranayama and a bit of Asana (handstand, forearm balance, headstand) practice, as well as giving Sparky a good Sunday morning walk, protruded into velo time.

It was 48 degrees F, the sky clear as I headed south on Race Street, intending to do at least 20 miles toward White Heath along Old Church Road, but still feeling the effects of the population of cold viruses that I was hosting since Thursday evening. So just played it by ear.

Have been one another haiku kick–it’s such a handy method for focusing thoughts and winnowing words.

At least checked mushrooms
Amanitas were still there,
Moldy or healthy.


Majestic trees stood
Throwing their westward shadows,
Lifting golden leaves.


Cold at first, not sure
Of a long trip; then warmed up,
And the road beckoned.

Turned west on Windsor.
Rode to the prairie near Neil.
It was mostly brown.

Heard water running:
From a pond over a dam,
Built there by beavers?


Rode west on Windsor,
South at Prospect to Curtis
And the sunken pond.

Near the sunken pond
Which was quite brown and quiet,
Saw large bird footprints.


At the pond’s far end
Gathered a large group of ducks!
They weren’t all mallards.


Prospect Avenue
Became a shaded bike path
That reached to Old Church.


In the autumn soil,
Something was strangely growing:
Thousands of corn shoots!


Back north on Race Street,
Runners looped Meadowbrook Park
A beautiful course.

Did not reach my goal
Of 20 miles for this ride,
But 13 was good!

Saturday 29 October 2016. Mild Urbana Autumn

This morning at 7:30 it was 64 degrees F under mostly clear skies.

This would be a short ride on the more upright- sitting Discovery II, just to get out and connect with the light and the color of the gorgeous autumn morning.

It seemed that the leaves were turning one fiery tree at a time, but still surrounded with green.


Wondered what was happening at the mushroom site and stopped to check; found both the ravages of the meta-fungus


and the irrepressible life force that kept mushroom emerging from the ground.


Rode on only to the Idea Garden of the U of I Arboretum. But there was plenty to see!

It was breathtaking with its late blooms in the early morning (late sunrise!) sun:

a yellow milkweed,


second-bloom spiderwort,


glowing pink “flowering” kale,


popcorn Senna


Cosmos with nearby Nasturtium that looked like little lotus leaves,


and Cleome


Winter seems quite far away.