Sunday 7 May 2017. No Fox

It was 41 degrees F under clear skies at 7:30 this morning as I finally got Shadow on the road. Headed north and east to see whether the fox would be in its customary place across Main Street from the Dart plastic-lid factory.

It was not.

So went on to see what was happening at the edge of Weaver Park.

Blooming were golden Alexanders.


Recognized shoots of common milkweed, wild bergamot (Monarda), I’m pretty sure,


as well as prairie dock, compass plant, cup plant, to name a few.


Rode only to the edge of Weaver and turned back.

Across the street on the way back were pink evening primrose in a garden generously planted in native plants


The field next to the Dart parking lot bloomed in butterweed.


Wondered whether there would be corn or soybeans (if anything) planted there this year.


Sunday 23 April 2017. Brownfield Woods with Woodland Phlox, and Sighting the Fox

It was 38 degrees F under clear skies at 6:05 am, the sun about to come up. Rolled Shadow out of the garage to head east and north, per the wind direction. Have learned my lesson that even a reportedly small wind velocity can make a difference when it’s blowing straight at you. Also, had been wanting to visit Brownfield Woods (to the east and north) to see the bloom of the Dutchman’s britches but never managed that. Now it was time for woodland Phlox and didn’t want to
miss that, too.

Headed out Main Street, past the little grove of burr oaks.


Noticed a good-sized reddish, furry creature lounging under the oak trees that didn’t seem especially perturbed by my presence. It seemed to be the Sunday morning fox right around where I’d seen it on several Sundays in the past, as if waiting for my visit. Marveled at the “bushiness” of what appeared to be its tail. The only feature I wasn’t sure about was its face, which could have been a cat’s. A very large cat’s. After I took several pictures and so had been staring at it for a while, it got up and ambled back away from the street and toward a line of trees and the sound of a multi-breed chorus of barking dogs.

Rode on Main Street until it ended at University Avenue, crossed University and rode through the Beringer subdivision. Checked the ponds but saw no ducks.

Crossing the I-74 bridge was very glad to be wearing the felted mittens I’d just finished making


Saw not one but two dead possums along the road that paved the bridge. No pics of that for the blog. Remembered the possum remains I used to observe (described in older posts) at the north side of the bridge that had taken years to decompose and be grown over. Didn’t plan to follow these the same way but made a note to look next time I come this way.


Was happy to reach Olympian Drive and turn back.


It was kind of disappointing to look back and notice how I’ve been taking fewer and shorter rides than I used to. But no use not enjoying where I was then! And where I am now, reflecting on it.

On the way back –tailwind!–stopped for shots of woodland Phlox.


This seemed to be a good year for them,


and today appeared to be the peak of the bloom.

Oh, lovely stars of blue! Was especially glad to have caught this bloom because of having missed the Dutchman’s breeches.

Butterweed, which bursts yellow in seemingly random patches of sometimes great abundance in farm fields and near streams

provided a striking yellow contrast.

Saw the fox (was convinced for a while that it was a cat but the ears decided the ID) again on the way back.


Saturday 21 May 2016. East Curtis Road Under Clouds

It was 54 degrees F at 6:30 this morning under an overcast sky.

After some internal debate decided to take Discovery II to East Curtis Road, where I haven’t been for a while. Chose the hybrid bike to be able to see better. And it was a little nicer on the low back.

Stopped for lupines

and for new peach-yellow cabbage roses.

And then rode and rode south on Race Street, past Meadowbrook Park.

Noticed again to the west side of Race how much growth had been cleared from the Forestry Plantation across Race from Meadowbrook.

It used to seem quite vast, but now the horizon, a cell phone tower, and stacks of logs were visible in and behind it.

Then just rode and rode south on Race Street, right past Meadowbrook Park to Curtis Road, where, if I recaled correctly (and I may not have), a house that used to be at Washington and Vine had been moved,

and placed at the top of the “hill,” to the right, among the clump of trees.

The road extended pleasantly eastward; it was nice change from the parallel extension on Windsor Road, which borders Meadowbrook Park for a lovely stretch but also the ever-expanding Clark-Lindsey Village, the construction on Windsor, and houses across the road.


Crossed High Cross Road and proceeded eastward, noticing the curious distribution of the lovely butterweed.

Each field, even when contiguous, seems to have its own distribution (from very sparse to almost solid) or lack of this conspicuous flower. My guess is the difference lies in herbicide regimes. Just my guess.

Riding Discovery II was pleasant enough, especially the view of the landscape, but it was more work than Rhododendron would have been, especially on uphill grades. Trade-offs.

Enjoyed the jog south shortly after High Cross and rode only to Cottonwood Road, when it was time to return.


Tried to capture the lovely bit of roll in the land to the south of Curtis as I approached Race

but it wasn’t easy. Trust me, it was very nice, somewhat less subtle than it appears.

It started to sprinkle but never became a problem. Was just in keeping with the greyness of the morning. It was not an exciting but more a serene ride. Another kind of joy.

Sunday 24 April 2016. Fog and Phlox

It was 46 degrees F this morning at 6:15, the sky thinly cloudy and scattered fog spread close to the ground.

Had rather a slow start, the sun already risen, though the clouds and fog completely obscured its shape and exact position.

Was not completely enthusiastic about the trip, even though a momentary contemplation of not doing it felt absurd (during 30 Days of Biking, no less!?!). Could not decide which direction to ride, and then just found myself going north. Direction established, felt at least a degree of calm, of serenity.

At the long-under-construction but inconspicuous crossing of Broadway over the Boneyard Creek was a curious pile of metal, etc., including erstwhile bikes.

Rode on past Crystal Lake Park and the country fairgrounds to Bradley Avenue and north on Lincoln. At this point noticed my early hesitations were fading, and the ride clearly was becoming more enjoyable. It was good to be pedaling on relatively quiet (but not deserted) Lincoln Avenue on a Sunday morning.

Stopped at the water-filled pit on the east side of Lincoln, north of I-74,

img_5826 over which the sun was rising through the fog. Was surprised there wasn’t more construction or structure than last time I saw it, when there were several earth-moving vehicles around.

Wound around “new” north Lincoln and followed the urge to turn east on Oaks Road,

and then north on Willow, which passed the marked Centennial (as of 1966) farm

img_5833 which seemed still to be in operation at some level.

Turned east on Ford Harris Road and rode to High Cross, then south. Saw large vehicles in a field that made me worry about development of the open spaces out here.

Closer inspection suggested that the project was drainage. Might be for agricultural purposes, but maybe it’s the first step to building on the land. Alas.

Proceeded to the edge of Brownfield Woods

(note the 30 Days of Biking spoke card).
Was happy to see the Trillium

and especially the woodland Phlox

some of which mingled with stinging nettle.

And of course it was lovely to see them along the stream that goes through and along Brownfield,

img_5853 with a little butterweed for contrast.

Felt like it was a good trip, though all told wasn’t quite 15 miles. It’s getting to be time to wake up with the sun and stretch the distance. Definitely broke through the fog, inside and out! Nothing to do once again but be grateful.

Sunday 24 May 2015. Canine Encounters in the Way to Homer Lake.

At 5:20 this morning it was 63 (though felt warmer) degrees F and cloudy. The phone weather ap promised no rain till 1 pm so was fearless about that, anyway.

Today’s destination on Discovery II (had not yet repaired the flat on Rhododendron) was to be Homer Lake.

The mood was was a bit dampened by the clouds again, but not so much as last week, and I was determined just to roll with it, so to speak.

So headed east on lushly green Washington Street 20150524-082725.jpg
Stopped at Weaver Park to see what might be blooming around the alleged buffalo-wallow pond.

There were golden Alexanders and one
Little patch of wild quinine, which I was surprised to see so early in the season. 20150524-083820.jpg
Heard the low-pitched double-bass sound of a bullfrog chorus. Wondered what (if anything) John Cage thought of bullfrogs.

Then spotted something blue (spiderwort?) across the pond,
dug out the camera-only and zoomed it up (not shown above): blue flag iris!

Kept going eastward and traversed High Cross Road legally–it finally was open!
Had a smooth ride on E Washington and was about to make the jog to Homer Lake Road when I noticed an animal in the road a way up ahead, too large for a ground hog and slightly reddish. A fox? When it took off into the adjacent field thought it might be a deer. But managed to extract the camera and get a zoom (barely, so no photo here) enough to see that it was a coyote! Common as they are, this was my first certain siting of one.

Rode on, then stopped in a couple places to document where the road was not perfectly straight.

Even these small deviations do help to provide variety and interest when the landscape is otherwise rather uniform.

Farther along Homer Lake Road passed a farm house with a fence around the yard and saw a large nut-brown dog, perhaps a German shepherd, take off running in my direction. But took courage (if that’s what it was), mostly, and trusted the fence. Anyway, kept going and said, “Good dog! Thank you for letting me by!”

Farther along, however, just past the crossing of the first little Salt Fork tributary, could see a large chocolate brown dog that did not seem to be contained by a fence. It barked and I turned back. Wise discretion? Lack of courage? Who knows? I could be wrong, but I think dogs are about as fond of cyclists as they are of mail carriers. Did not feel a need to test that idea just then.

Had wanted to score at least 10 miles one way on the trip odometer, but was ok with just under 9. It would mean more time to write.

Closer to home on East Washington saw a couple of killdeer (birds, sketch below),

which are everywhere out in Illinois farm fields (and sometimes parking lots), but they rarely let me close enough for a photo. Today when I stopped one of them seemed to approach me and do the “broken-wing display.”

What a curious way to protect one’s nest, a curious metaphor of parental devotion.
Saw a nice patch of butterweed near High Cross Road and stopped for a habitat shot

and a decent close-up

of butterweed, which I’ve noticed for many springs, but only in this one have I been stopping to consider it. Just goes to show how much there is to observe, how it can’t be taken in and considered all at once.

And some time before the end of this summer I really want to deal with this fear of dogs (in a cycling context; think they are wonderful otherwise) and consider Homer Lake.

Thursday 21 May 2015. Pushing the Limits of Comfort to Greet the Spiderwort

At 6:30 this morning it was 45 degrees under cloudy skies. Don’t know if it was the virus I’ve been fighting, but even with a fleece jacket felt quite chilly. Was glad to have sleeves long enough cover my hands, but wished I’d thought to bring gloves.

Had been meaning to add air to Discovery II’s front tire and finally did so. Departure for Meadowbrook Park on the full tire was delightfully smooth!

Took my time and made a point to stop for a picture of the glorious lupines that were the centerpiece of the garden in which they grew.

And a little way down stopped at “my” apple tree, but at last did not find the old, shriveling remains of the last of year’s apples.

Time (perhaps way past time) to let it go, already. What I did find was an abundance of little new apples! (Amazing how long it takes them to grow and ripen!) Could be a metaphor for letting go of old grievances or inviable plans and making way for growth that is possible.

Had to make one more local photo stop for the multicolored planting of peonies,

some of which were quite far along in their bloom.

Not feeling a hundred percent well helped with restraining the urge to fill the phone memory with photos.

Rode on to Meadowbrook, not observing as much as I might have if I’d felt better.

At the rabbit-statue bridge stopped to get a photo.

Had just been thinking about butterweed (Packera glabella) and its strange distribution: corners of farm fields, the edges of streams. Remembered seeing it when I used to visit streams all over Illinois in my past life as a biologist. And then there it was on the point where Davis Creek ran into Mc Cullough Creek. (The place where, if conditions are right, cardinal flowers will bloom in late summer. It’s that faint yellow spot in the photo. Really.

Right after crossing the bridge, noticed a spiderwort among the golden Alexanders.

A little way down the path, remembered the blue flag iris that I was sure were soon to appear, so stepped off to the south of the path and into the wet area to check how far along they were.

Have such mixed feelings about going off the path in pursuit of flowers: really hate to violate the place with my steps, but also really want to see the flowers. So my comprmise is to do it infrequently, carefully, mindfully. Makes me wish for a telephoto camera.

Anyway, they were in bud, a reasonable stand of them!

A little farther down, there were nice clumps of spiderwort.

Rode through the grey chill and didn’t stop even when I noticed the emerging foliage of the lead plant.

But did stop at the prairie bordered by Windsor road, the part that had recently been burned, because the spiderwort blooms were abundant and lovely, with lots of green background from other species to set off their gorgeous blue.

Took a couple of shots and shot home.
Felt rather unwell when I got there; lay down on the couch for a good half hour before feeling recovered. Decided that next time I have a cold and feel so tired and achy will sleep in. But it was nice to see the iris buds and the spiderworts, as well as the lupines and peonies.