Saturday 17 June 2017. Lots of New Flowers at Meadowbrook but No Visible Queen of the Prairie

It was 72 degrees under progressively more cloudy skies at 6:05 this morning as I pointed Rhododendron down the driveway, toward the street and Meadowbrook Park.

First, looked at wild roses in my own back yard, which were attracting lots of pollinators.


At Meadowbrook stopped at the arresting sensory garden


where there were poppies, common milkweed, purple coneflowers, Delphinium, (a shameless mixture of natives and exotics, i.e., a garden) and more.


As I walked toward the Art and Billie Spomer Prairie, noticed that already black-eyed Susans were starting to bloom.


Crossed the wooden bridge over McCullough Creek


and walked out, i.e., off the path, into the dew-covered prairie, looking where I’d see them before (but not last year, I don’t believe) for queen of the prairie flowers. Did not, however, see any.

It was pretty much worth the soaking shorts and shoes, though, because I did get decent views of other prairie flowers: common milkweed


butterfly milkweed


rattlesnake master


purple coneflower,




false sunflower,


wild petunia.


Saw stalks of cup plant


and compass plant


elongating upward.

Spiderwort, though past its peak, continued to produce nearly perfect violet-blue triangular flowers.


Got back on the paved path and rode past the wet area, the place of irises, where my eye was caught by an unusual (two, actually) bird. They turned out to be, unmistakably, two rose-breasted grosbeaks!


Farther on by the Freyfogle overlook,
lead plant continued its bloom.


Was sad not to see queen of the prairie, but its absence reminded me not to take it for granted and to appreciate the unique floral symphony that the prairie offers each year.


Sunday 25 October 2015. Kidnapped by Maples

It was 45 degrees F under a mostly blue sky  spread with  wispy clouds at 7:30 this morning, after a yoga practice where I focused a lot on how to explain rolling the leg muscles in and the arm muscles out. How good it is to practice!

Afterward, it was later than I liked but just had to have some bicycle contact with the beautiful fiery maple leaves!


In spite of the shortness of time, obeyed the urge and took off in the direction of North Lincoln (normally too busy for my taste but comfortably quiet on a Sunday morning) and pedaled into the northerly breeze. It felt very good!

Rode past lots of trees (featuring fiery  maples) with gorgeous fall colors and did not stop until I was over I-74 and at the Mysterious Pit,  

the gate in front of which was wide open, and it looked like the soil had been moved around. I’m guessing there won’t be a Mysterious Pit there very much longer. But can’t imagine what will be there instead.  

Was sorely tempted to go farther north on Lincoln, but knew the time was short and so turned back. It was happily unlikely to have been pulled this far!

Rode back via the short but still thrilling hill between Woodlawn Cemetery and Busey Woods.  (Wheee!). Most of the way down, spotted the big oak tree that had been standing in water only a few (it seemed) weeks ago.  

Then all the yellow leaves deep into Busey Woods looked so inviting, so got a shot of them. 

Successfuly went non-stop through the curves and over the Saline Branch and around the corner and south on Broadway.  

But in the little prairie near Crystal Lake Pool there were quite a number of prairie flowers still blooming amid the dry foliage of late October, and didn’t want them to go unphotographed.  

There were goldenrod, 

 false sunflowers  

asters,  brown-eyed Susans

 and most amazingly, yellow coneflowers 

 as if it were July!

On top of that, a little father down, 
was an amazing display of autumn maple foliage.  

 How satisfying not to have missed it!

Then proceeded south on still-in progress but bike-passable Broadway  Avenue. 

Miss the quaint bricks, but the ride was “like butter!”

It was so good to let the pull of the season lead, another example of how a short ride is way, way, much better than none!

Sunday 4 October 2015. Early Fall to the East and North, with Sounds of Dogs and Guns

This morning at 6:50 it was 50 degrees F under cloudy skies. 

Really wanted to ride, even with the limited time the flowers would be out. So headed east on Main Street toward High Cross Road, with the idea of stopping as little as possible, into the north-northeast wind. Restrained myself successfuly until I got to the little grove of oaks across from the Solo Cup (Dart?) factory, which were nicely set off by goldenrod and asters. 

Remembered that last time I rode by this place on a Sunday morning there was a fox behind the trees, and sure enough, there it was again!  But too far away for a good photo.   

While I tried to get a photo of the fox could hear in the distance dogs barking, and they didn’t sound especially playful. In fact the sound seemed to be getting louder and wondered whether a pack of them might burst in my direction. Decided it was time to move on. 

Stopped also, after passing it by on many previous rides, at the giant hibiscus in front of the Quaker church.


There still were some giant pink blooms, even among the autumnal purple leaves.

But resisted the urge to stop at Weaver Park and rode to the end of Main through the Beringer subdivision to High Cross Road.

Did stop not far over the I-74 bridge to get a portrait of the day and the time of year: cloudy, cool, and breezy, the corn harvest underway. It was the beginning of the kind of weather that does not automatically grab you by the collar and pull you outside, the kind you have to prepare for and meet as it is. 


Stopped again to document the first fall colors at the beginning of the tunnel of tree leaves over the Saline Branch bridge.  


Rode on, passing Brownfield Woods, which was bordered by the pale, small-flowered asters I remembered here from previous years, toward Olympian Drive. 


Then turned west. 


As I stopped for a shot of the bit of roll in the half-harvested field, distinctly heard a rifle shot. Deer season already?? Hoped very much that the shooting person could see (and glad my jacket was bright magenta) that I wasn’t a deer. Reached back and turned on my blinking tail light for further evidence.  Wow.  Made me think about spending Thanksgiving with my sister in Wisconsin and she discouraging me from taking a walk in the beautiful woods around her place: deer hunters. 

Later, when I shared this story with friends, they suggested the shots could have meant pheasant season (but I’m pretty sure they were rifle and not shotgun shots) or a farmer shooting at “varmints.” Not the most welcome feature of being out in the country in the morning, but, like the sound of dogs on East Main, part of what’s there. 

Rode in the open space with just enough speed to feel a pleasant cardio-vascular exertion, with smooth, deep breathing. Aahh!  This is the point of cycling!

Came back to Willow, Oaks, and North Lincoln, down the best hill in Champaign-Urbana (next to Busey Woods) and then to Broadway, by the Anita Purvis Nature Center and the entrance to the now-empty Crystal Lake pool. Was amazed again by the patches of fresh yellow coneflowers in October. 

They are beautiful in July but even more welcome now in this time of general diminishment. 

Another good ride, glad to participate in the transition toward winter. 

Sunday 20 September 2015. A Few Sunny Miles Up North LincolnĀ 

7:05 a.m. it was already before I made it out the door to get on Rhododendron and ride in the 52 degrees F and clear sky. 

 Near the mystery (to me) pit was a small group of (oak, I believe) trees, including a dead one, a not uncommon sight this year. 

And it’s not just ashes.

Rode to where Lincoln Avenue divides into two roads: one that winds a bit to the east (even more now that there is a detour) before continuing north and the other, with no outlet, leads straight into a vast world of recycling. Went straight just long enough to stand on the bridge over the Saline Branch and headed back.  

At Bradley turned left and sped (!) down the hill between Busey Woods and Woodlawn Cemetery. Almost at the bottom marveled at the standing water from Friday’s torrents that surrounded this very healthy looking oak tree. 


And rode over the Saline Branch where the road turned sharply, which I always think would make a good shot, but it just seems like not a great place to stop. 

Turned south on Broadway and stopped at the Anita Purvis/Crystal Lake prairie for a photo of asters. 

And back. The summer is coming to a close.  So glad to be here to witness its passing 

Wednesday 6 August 2014. Compass Plant, Prairie Clover, Big Bluestem at the Top of the Hill

This morning at 5:35 it was 66 degrees F and cloudy. It wa good to be back home safely after our family trip to Texas, good to so easily hop on Rhododendron and head to the pool without making any kind of special plans. It’s good to take a break from one’s routine, and good to get back to it!

Really didn’t plan to document and post on this short ride, but brought the IPhone along just in case…

And of course there were sights to observe: took the photo bait.

Rode over the Boneyard Creek at Race Street and stopped to document the progress of the “river walk” project.

I’m not an engineer and don’t pretend to know what a “normal” pace for such a project might be, but this one seems to be going really slowly.

Rode by the Crystal Lake Park Labyrinth and stopped for a rather distant photo but did not walk it, alas.

On Coler, just past the fairgrounds saw a doe and small fawn cross the road. Have seen several fawns this summer; wonder whether it’s usual for this time of year or whether the abundant moisture and green vegetation made a summer cohort possible.

Stopped at the Lincoln Bindery prairie planting, across from Busey Woods, to get a shot of blooming compass plants. Even in the protected little garden they were scarce.

Glad there were any; love the skyward-winding stack of their large, yellow faces.

Second-tallest of the plants here was the big bluestem grass, which was starting to bloom.

Saw some other distinctive-looking grass; thought of the name, “switch grass, but wasn’t sure that was it.

Noticed a lot of seed heads of prairie clover, and even some remaining purple flowers.

20140806-090715.jpg Looks like they’ve had a good year.

Enjoyed, as always, speeding down the hill just past the little prairie-let! Again, glanced at the grave markers in the cemetery to my left and wondered about whether being brave means facing fear or maybe ignoring it.

Had a lovely swim at Crystal Lake Pool and headed home through the winding, wooded path between Broadway Avenue and the Saline Branch.

20140806-091943.jpg There is something so much more pleasant and soothing about riding curves rather than straight lines. Kind of wish it was much longer, though it’s nice to be able to enjoy such a lovely stretch even when time is short.

Was surprised not to see the Crystal Lake geese near the southeast corner of the park, but then there they were across the street, grazing in front of Jimmy John’s.

20140807-100247.jpg Seems like a good year for them, too, as far as I can tell.

Have wondered whether I might run out of things to talk about in this blog, but I think the larger limiting factor is time. Sometimes I wish I could ride and post every day; it really is never the same twice! Often I dream of longer rides–still watch for the possibilities! Meanwhile, as I try to remember in other areas of life, whatever I meet with awareness, however briefly, is a treasure.

Thursday 1 May 2014. Cool Afternoon Ride around Busey Woods

It was another cloudy, cool afternoon, about 3:45 pm, when I took a break from my indoor activities to get in a ride to the wonderful hill route around the outside of Busey Woods.

Now that 30 Days of Biking is complete (Got out and rode every day!) I’ve signed up for the National Bike Challenge, which goes from 1 May through 30 September. You can keep track of your mileage on their site as well as adding in to the total mileage of everyone signed up. See the link for more information.

My first stop on today’s ride was the Race Street bridge over the Boneyard Creek
The project to beautify (I think) the banks of the Boneyard has been taking a long time, and there seems to be little activity at the site. When I approached closer to get photos did see someone (maybe two people) apparently at work there.

Rode around Crystal Lake Park and stopped for a shot of the sycamore tree with the swaying trunk, which I like a lot but which is somewhat difficult to photograph for various reasons, including its proximity to the street.

Rode around Crystal Lake Park and past the Champaign County fairgrounds without stopping and then rounded the corner by the cemetery and down the hill with the usual delight. There were some cars, but everyone seemed to be alert and felt plenty safe.

A little ways down from the bottom of the hill stepped off the road slightly into Busey Woods to check out the May apples with their umbrella-like leaves. Even with the bit of traffic and the kids romping down the trails it felt like the woods, and it was deeply satisfying to rest a while among the May apples, tree trunks, and emerging spring foliage.


Tuesday 8 April 2014. The Most Fun Ride in Urbana

Going to have to think hard about this ride from last week…

I believe it was chilly, with maybe a north wind. Anyway, the clouds over downtown Urbana were large and billowy.
Headed to Crystal Lake Park/Busey Woods for some downhill action.

But first passed some other rather nice scenery, like the county fairgrounds and northern edge of Busey woods.
Just above that cool hill stopped for a photo; wanted to show what a dramatic drop it was. But the traffic was fairly brisk, and thought to myself: “This is NOT a good place to stop!”

But it was great fun to speed downhill between a cemetery and a wooded park, and gave a joyful little yell as I went down.
Passed the Urbana Outdoor Aquatic center; was so glad it was completed!

Rode through the park just below Broadway, a lovely little wooded trail.

And quickly home. .