Sunday 21 January 2018. To Thawing Meadowbrook in Fog, with Lesson

Got out on the road on Shadow at about 7:30 this morning, after applying some lube to the chain. The temperature was 41 degrees F under clouds and fog but no wind to speak of.

The streets were wet but clear; small piles of snow remained along their edges from last week’s snow-fall and low temperatures. In other words, they were not interfering with passage “au vélo.”

Checked “my” apple tree and found a few fruit still attached.

Riding south on Race Street, stopped to get à view of the enveloping fog.

The wintry fog made me think of death and funerals. So far in my life I’ve never arranged a funeral and wondered whether it would be worth learning how to do it before it was necessary, like a scout project, to be prepared. But did not make a decision.

Stopped again just before entering Meadowbrook Park to see the fog through the pine planting,

a doorway of mystery.

Stopped at the rabbit-statue bridge to check the state of McCullough Creek.

Which was melting but still with some ice.

Stopped to get a view of thistle remains against the foggy winter prairie

and of the of the path receding into the fog.

Across Douglas Creek, the fog lent drama to the forms of the bare trees.

Saw a particularly full raindrop hanging from a budded twig near the path. After a bit of struggle was able to focus the iPhone camera on it,

and was reasonably pleased with the result: an inverted microcosm.

Stopped then at the Prairie Viewing Station

which previously I had carelessly referred to as the “Freyfogle Overlook ” but henceforth will use its official name. Really have to work on tightening up accuracy in the blog. The more integrity the better!

Got a view of old compass plants

old goldenrod

and Baptisia pods.

At the Windsor /Vine bridge

noticed wet, uneven ice on the path leading to the bridge. The smoothness of the ride so far had given me confidence to traverse this small patch of ice, which I don’t think would have been a problem if my way were straight ahead. Unfortunately, I had to turn slightly to the right to get over the bridge, but my momentum kept going forward, the bike slid under me, and I went down.

It was a minor, slow-speed, not entirely unexpected fall, but a nearby friendly golden retriever was concerned, and she and her owner hurried over to make sure I was ok. We were joined by two other concerned passers-by, but soon all were convinced I was fine.

Headed home across Windsor Road, enjoying the amazingly responsive traffic signal, and with renewed respect for the laws of physics.


Saturday 27 May 2017. Out Yankee Ridge Road via Lush Meadowbrook

It was 64 degrees F at 6:20 under cloudy skies this morning as I got Rhododendron the road bike out for a long-awaited spin!
The nice people at Neutral Cycle put the pedal crank back into is working position, replaced the cables and brake pads, and reduced the number of speeds to five (really, who needs more than that, at least in central Illinois?) by removing the rusted-out front derailleur.

Was amazed by Rhododendron’s speed and smoothness and didn’t stop until Windsor Road, where I did not wait long to cross.

Made the customary stop at the rabbit-statue bridge.


Then sought blue flag irises, which I found, more abundant and widespread than I ever remember seeing them.



And of course there were spiderwort


and Penstemon.


Pasture rose provided a pink counterpoint to the greens, white and blue.


At the Freyfogle overlook was lead plant, with its festive-looking foliage.


The clouds broke up enough to reveal some blue sky and cloud-shapes over the land.


Saw dew-beaded spiderwebs.


The flowers and foliage at Meadowbrook this morning were spectacular and particularly uplifting, at least to this observer!

Then rode along Windsor road on the “sidewalk,” (which I see more as a multi-use path) to Philo Road and east on Old Church, then south on Yankee Ridge Road.

Here is Yankee Ridge at Old Church Road, viewed from the west


as ever, a place of quiet. I think of it as a bit of sacred silence, accompanied by its stark and subtly beautiful view.

Wanted to go on


but time limitations prompted me to turn back at the road that is paved to the east but is wet and unpaved to the west.


Returning home rode into a north wind (which explains the ease of the trip out) and just wanted to get back!


The fog blew toward me and I was sure it would rain even though the phone Ap assured me it wouldn’t. There was nothing to do (as is so common in so many aspects of life!) but hunker down and press on.

After some discomfort just settled into it as if I were lost, but not in a bad way, just absorbed in the present. And made it back with some satisfaction.

Sunday 19 February 2017. Signs of Life

This morning at 8 it was 47 degrees F under cloudy, foggy skies as I wheeled out Shadow for a ride, at least to Meadowbrook Park. Been trying to get back to a little mileage in my rides, though still am working on shaking off the fatigue of a tenacious winter virus.

The first sign of early spring greeted me on the pavement of the street just around the corner from my house:


Silver maple flowers! They are very early bloomers, but they mark the beginning of a process that soon will clothe the landscape in vegetation.

The fog lent a bit of drama to the familiar path to Meadowbrook.


At the park, enjoyed speeding downhill toward and over the rabbit-statue bridge, Shadow’s smaller-than-road-bike (26, as opposed to 27-inch) wheels easily handling the sharp turn left on the path.

Then doubled back to get the customary shot of the confluence of Davis and McCullough creeks.


Just past the little bridge over Davis creek saw a pair of ducks in the fenced-off pond.


Loved the softness of the fog

punctuated by the sharp stalks of last year’s compass plants.

Then cut over to the “short loop” along McCullough Creek and stopped at a years-old beaver-fallen tree.

Noticed also the recently scraped bark of the tree seedling (sapling?) in the foreground, presumably the work of a deer.

Along McCullough Creek noticed a lot of dead (standing and fallen) trees.


I think some of that is intentional riparian management, but it reminds me that there seem to be so many diseased trees around these days.

Everywhere I look
I see dead and dying trees:
Climate change at work.

Farther along, in the Meadowbrook sensory garden, pussy willows (don’t think they’re native) were in their early stages of bloom.


Also, there were some winter aconite (also not native) blooms emerging from beneath the mulch of fallen leaves.


Then got back on Race Street and rode through the fog a little while south. Turned back at Curtis Road and stopped at the sign welcoming travelers to Urbana, just above where Race Street crossed McCullough Creek.


Likely there will be more cold weather ahead, but the rise of green and the other colors of plant growth is not far away.

Wednesday 17 August 2016. Glimpse of Summer Fog

It was 70 degrees F and cloudy at 7:07 this morning, with a bit of distant fog. Am behind in my posts and had intended to make yoga practice and not a bike ride the first item on the morning’s agenda, but the fog was fleeing and did not want to miss it.

So headed south on Rhododendron to Meadowbrook Park. Stopped to get a shot of a ginkgo tree with fog behind it.


At Meadowbrook, sped over the rabbit-statue bridge and around the bend (did use a bit of brake) and looked for fog images.

Besides the fog, the prairie bloom was muted with maturity (and perhaps disease?)


but so far there still were flowers, like these cup plants,

not to mention the giant ragweed.

Noticed a swamp milkweed covered with aphids.


It was a picture of destruction, but not without its own strange beauty.

Saw early goldenrod with dew-beaded remains of a spiderweb nearby.


Knew there was not much time but did go as far as the “upland” cardinal flowers site and get a distant shot


as well as a shot of big bluestem flowers that were not quite fully in bloom.

Did not examine it (or others of its kind) to see whether it was early or late in its bloom.

Saw a beaded, mostly intact spiderweb


and knew there must be lots more of them, jewels of condensed fog out there in the rest of the prairie, but, alas, had to leave them undiscovered and make my way back to the day’s demands.

Turned back


but did stop to see some nice clusters of wingstem


in front of the dense streameside growth
and, back at the rabbit-statue bridge, the glorious, if partly hidden, riparian cardinal flowers.


Was grateful to have made it for this visit, another example of how a short time of awareness is WAY better than none!

Friday 6 May 2016. Sunrise on Green Meadowbrook

It was 45 degrees F at 5:45 this morning, the sky clear, at least on the horizon.
Rode south to Meadowbrook Park, not especially focused, then saw a group of large deer on the mown grass among the ornamental trees

There was some mist on the ground that reflected the sun.

As always, the view of McCullough and Davis creeks from the rabbit-statue bridge was an attraction

but it seemed especially lush and brilliant in today’s slightly foggy dawn.

The air was so fresh and so fragrant! Couldn’t put my finger on the source, but it was lightly sweet and delicious.

And the sunrise from down the path was quite photogenic.

Farther down a little way was the spot where I knew there were irises about to bloom, but didn’t want to wade among the possibly tick-infested willows to get close enough for a good photo. Settled for this iPhone-zoom shot.

Thought I could pick out buds. Must devise a strategy to get close to them!

Crossing the little arch bridge over Davis Creek got another nice view of the sunrise

Noticed quite a few tree swallows, flying with their pointed, glossy wings and sitting defiantly on on various perches (Glendy, did you notice the correct spelling?) along the path, like this pair on the sign at the entrance to the soft path through the prairie.


Down and around to the Freyfogel Overlook, there was a tree swallow tenaciously stationed on a corner of the structure.

Not wanting to disturb it, I bypassed the ramp and stairs and climbed to the platform to get a shot of the blue and clouds and line of trees in shades of light and medium green–past the yellow-green and densely-flowered stage.

It seemed like a transition I’d never caught before at quite this stage.

Was glad see the brave swallow unmoved as I left, glad my proximity hadn’t forced it away from its post.

Saw lots of golden Alexanders blooming in the prairie near Windsor Road.

Have to remind myself that they are native and early-blooming because they don’t pull at my attention the way other flowers do.

Away from Meadowbrook and back in the neighborhood noticed that the many-soft-greens-in-the-morning-light phenomenon was all around!

Sweet middle of spring! And I got to see it!


Sunday 1 May 2016. Foggy Ride to the Southwest

It was 53 degrees F at 6:35 this morning, with cloud skies and fog.

It was a morning just to ride.

Which turned out to be west on Windsor, with a stop at the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration Project.

img_5991 Looked for signs of lead plant but a cursory examination revealed only last year’s remains.

Rode on west and stopped where Windsor crossed Phinney Branch,

img_5996 which was full of rushing water.

Turned west on Duncan Road. Was a little nervous about riding in the fog with no bike lane, so got on the sidewalk. Until it ended.

Fortunately did not have far to go before arriving at Curtis Road with its marvelous bike lanes.

Saw a number of mallard ducks in the ditch and in flooded fields next to Curtis.

img_6003 They all were drakes. Made me wonder whether the hens were off laying eggs in protected areas.

Stopped at the crossing of Curtis over the Embarrass River for a shot of the high water and the very green banks.

Stopped a little way on to catch the tiny shoots of corn that recently had appeared.

Close to home, looked down Race Street to see a foggy tunnel and the path to the rest of the day.

Friday 29 April 2016. Welcoming the Season of Light

It was 48 degrees F and mostly clear at 5:45 this morning, the sun due to rise before 6. It’s time again to be up and out to witness the world revealed by this extra portion of light.

Headed south on Rhododendron for a quick loop around Meadowbrook Park. Close to Windsor Road there was fog (mist?) on the ground.

Did the mandatory shot of McCullough Creek from the rabbit-statue bridge.

And also got one looking over the bridge and into the “prairie ” at the south end of the park.

There was quite a bit of low fog at Meadowbrook Park, thickest in the middle of the prairie. Thought that in years past it was common to see deer in such mist. Then there one was. Then thought it was common for there to be more like than one deer, and then there was another. Not to say these rides are becoming predictable.

Got a couple more sun-and-fog shots like this one.

Then, just over the little bridge over Davis Creek, in the area undergoing “restoration,” there was a group of deer, so picturesque by the stream, under the tree, with the fog for atmosphere.

It was like we all were there expectantly welcoming this soft, foggy morning, this unfolding warm season.