This morning at 5:55 it was 74 humid degrees, the sky mostly cloudy but with gaps in the clouds.
After a lot of anxious indecision (why exactly?) decided to take Rhododendron eastward in the direction of Homer Lake.
This meant a quick stop at the “buffalo-wallow” pond at Weaver Park, where Culver root already were blooming, along with wild bergamot and yellow coneflower.
Heard a number of bullfrogs, who seemed to take turns vocalizing rather than sing in a chorus. Actually saw one jump up and “fly” across the lily pads and disappear back into the water. Also saw what I think were tadpoles leaping up out of the water (and falling directly back in).
Saw ducks too far away to ID, and then a swimming mammal: a groundhog, I decided (two thirds of the way down, just to the right of center).
And back on the road.
Noticed what a nice place the area near Washington and High Cross is to see the eastern sky.
Stopped after the place where Washington jogs into Homer Lake Road for a shot of the steel drum where they have been burning things since I first started riding out this way six years ago.
Along Homer Lake Road, the corn was taller than I in lots of places. “Corn to the left of me, soybeans to the right, here I am, in central Illinois!”
I know they make the economy go, but the spirit loves flowers. At least on the edges.
Rode on, periodically remembering to observe the breath. It wasn’t the Pranayama experience of last week but still nice for some stretches.
Passed a fenced yard in which there was a dog; trusted the fence and rode on. No problem. But in another yard not long after saw a rather large brown dog, unfenced (I think at least once in the past I have turned back after seeing this dog). Felt lucky and rode on, when the dog began to bark and come after me. There was no time to dread and work up fearful anticipation: here it was, the thing I dreaded happening.
So, carefully avoiding eye contact with the dog, just put the pedal to the metal, as it were, and rode ahead.
Oddly, felt almost calm; decided the dog didn’t really want to attack me. So envisioned him(her) just wanting to say “hi” the way my family’s 12 year old Bichon does with every person and dog we pass on his walks.
And soon the dog went back. Big whew.
But resolved not to pass this way on the return trip.
Reached the bridge over the Salt Fork of the Vermillion River and paused to look into the high water.
Rode a little way down, to the historical marker of the site of Kelley’s Tavern, a place that Lincoln was said to have frequented. It has a lovely little planting of native prairie plants, which today featured a bloom of common milkweed, with bees
as well as milkweed-specific (true) bugs
as well as butterfly milkweed
Then turned back and veered off on a road that became Windsor Road, which, after an early turn, is straight as an arrow and seems to include uphill all the way to Meadowbrook Park. But it was better than risking another ride with the dog, who might no be so friend this time.
Had a treat crossing the little creek a little way west of the Salt Fork: a fairly large group of wood ducklings and adult female ducks.
If it hadn’t been for the dog I might have missed them. Wondered whether there is some special habit in the immediate area: have seen wood ducks in that creek once or twice before and never anywhere else on these bike rides.
Saw a nice collection here and there along the road of great mulleins (Verbascum thapsus),
each one like a fuzzy, flower-topped stately tower. They are not native but seem to fit nicely into the landscape.
(Ah, the inconsistency of human prejudice about “nature!”)
Heard many dicksissels to the right and left and above me on utility lines.
Seemed, like last year, to be a good year for them.
Was glad to reach Meadowbrook Park but also was ready to be home and didn’t stop.