Sunday 18 June 2017. Dark Clouds but No Rain

It was 71 degrees F and cloudy with a 12-mph WSW wind at 6:25 pm as I took Rhododendron out toward south First Street.

Rode south on Race Street, reasonably comfortable though feeling the somberness of the clouds.

Did not stop before Windsor Road except to examine the bike for the source of a light banging sound, but could not make it happen when I got off and spun each wheel independently. It was annoying but didn’t seem to impair the bike’s performance so just rode on.

Stopped at the linden tree on the corner of Race and Windsor.


Was not sure whether it had not yet fully bloomed or whether it was mostly done blooming, but it didn’t exude the perfume I remember from past years.

Headed into the westerly breeze on Windsor, noticing dark clouds ahead.


Observed how the diminished light and color pressed on my mood. The expression “like a wet blanket” came to mind.
There was some current pain in it (everyone has his or her list!), a little fear that the clouds would deliver discomfort-inducing rain or even electrical danger, but also some broody comfort, a little space to allow that pain before going back to face the slings and arrows that caused it.

Nevertheless decided to limit the ride (oh waste of extra daylight and free time!) to checking the lead plant at the City of Champaign “Prairie Restoration.”

The lead plants were starting to bloom,


lax stewardship notwithstanding.


And didn’t notice any plague of beetles, either. There is hope for that place, I think.

Thought again that I was missing a chance to get in good ride, but really felt averse to being far from home in a storm, and was not sure that the banging, knocking sound was not the sign of some kind of trouble with the bike.

Then riding north on First Street happened to look look at my right Keen sandal, which had a plastic knob at the end of loop of the elastic lacing, and saw that it was banging on the bike frame. Mystery solved!

So on the way back stopped at Japan House garden

Where amazing, durable hellebores contributed to the design of the hosta planting.

Also stopped at the prairie planting on Florida and Orchard, where the summer bloom was beginning to build.

There were post-peak spiderwort


and Penstemon


Black-eyed Susan,


common milkweed, in a big way(!)


false sunflower, sporting either milkweed or box elder bugs,


and lovely blue vervain.


Made it home without getting wet, satisfied enough with the ride.


Sunday 2 June 2013. June Prairie Flowers from Here to South First Street, and Back

At 5:15 this morning it was 59 degrees F, with a southwest wind. The sky was heavy with clouds; it seemed like rain would start any time, but the phone forecast said no, so I took my chances.

Was delighted to be back on Rhododendron, heading south on Race. Noticed that the yellow cabbage roses I’d always admired actually various colors: peach and pink in addition to the abundant yellow.

Pink and Peach Cabbage Rosed w:Rain

Turned west on Florida to check out the prairie plants in front of the former horticultural building. Was pleased by the density of flowers:  along with spiderwort and Penstemon were golden Alexanders (also common and abundant around now but haven’t mentioned them because wasn’t 100% sure of distinguishing them from the introduced wild parsnip (Pastiaca). Also there was wild quinine and Coreopsis. Even a few purple coneflowers were starting to bloom.

Rode south on Lincoln. Thought about the treasures of the Idea Garden and Japan House but did not stop.

Turned west on Windsor.  It was so very cloudy.  Was not feeling so very sharp today. Rhododendron was smooth, but I was feeling some strain here and there–the bike was not quite “disappearing.”  Felt tired, actually.  But knew it would get better.  And already still did like the speed.

Continued west past First Street to the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration.  There was quite a bit of alien crown vetch, sweet clover, and poison hemlock, but also spiderwort, a little Penstemon, and foliage of those lovely lead plants (Amphora canescens), under the

Lead Plant and Prairie Dock 2 June 13

sign.  The flowers are something to anticipate.

Then rode back to First Street and South, enjoying the speed.  The housing developments stretched southward.  Along the west side of the road near the southern end of them was a prairie garden with lots of purple Baptisia australis (presumably the same species as that lone specimen at Meadowbrook) and lots of cup plants.

Purple Baptisia and Cup Plants

Enjoyed the wide openness of the farm fields with mostly soil still evident.  It’s been a cool, wet spring, and planting has been delayed in many areas.  Note the vigorous specimen of poison hemlock (Conium maculatum, which is appears to be having a bumper year) on the edge.

Poison Hemlock and Wet Field

In one field were a lot of pigeons, and behind them, a fair number of geese.

Noticed some bones that seemed to be in the process of becoming part of the road.

Bones Becoming Part of the Road

Rode as far as County Road 18 and turned around.  Was really hoping it wouldn’t start to rain here; was on the edge of feeling cold.

Near First and Windsor was a clear specimen of wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), an introduced species that resembles the native

Pastinaca Whole

golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea –so fun to say that name).  Looked like the most obvious differences were the thicker stem and more ruffled leaves of the wild parsnip.

On the way home cut over to Oak Street, on which was a lovely prairie garden, in front of a place labelled, “Indoor Climate Research and Training.”    Spiderwort were abundant here, and also there were a good number of golden Alexanders.  Got a careful shot of some to

Indoor Climate Spiderwort

compare to the wild parsnip.

Zizia in Prairie Garden, Close

As expected, I did feel wonderful at the end of the ride.  Just love, love the extra light this time of year, clouds and fatigue notwithstanding.  Now to get a little farther out of town!