Sunday 30 April 2017. Big Wet Finish for 30 Days of Biking

It was 55 degrees F with steady rain falling


as I donned rain gear and went forth for a ride.

Getting the phone out to get a photo was not easy: it got wet pretty fast. But did manage a few, including a white and a pink dogwood (it’s been a great year for them!) in the same shot.


Florida Avenue was wet and green.


At the Japan House Garden, rain pooled under the now-leafy-green cherry trees


The hellebores still looked great in their present manifestation and now surrounded by hostas.


The pond on the far side of the garden looked quite full.


Enjoyed being out connecting with the weather but wished I’d put on the shoe-covers a friend had given me. They were still wet from yesterday and did not keep my shoes bone dry then but would have kept out most of the buckets of water with which my shoes were now filled. Now I know.

Noticed that the word “exhilarated,” which often occurs to me on bike rides, was not what I would have used to describe my state of mind just now. The discomfort of wetness was a bit distracting and looked forward to being out of the wet clothes.

Still, was glad to have fulfilled my 30 Days of Biking pledge with all the other joyful cyclists!


Saturday 27 August 2016. Late-Blooming Blue Flowers and Other Wonders Near Japan House

It was 72 degrees F and mostly cloudy at 6:45 this morning, pavement and greenery still wet with recent rain.

It would be a quick trip this morning on Discovery II to Japan House garden, where I hoped there would be bottle gentians.

On the way my attention was arrested by large white mushrooms, roughly in a ring.

Love those manifestations of mystery.

Did not plan to stop on the path to Japan House, but the helebores, up since at least early February, were so astonishingly vigorous-looking, with their shiny green leaves and their flower-like remains of flowers, I couldn’t resist a photo.


Then to the side of the pond, where I was greeted by an abundance of great blue Lobelia, the blue first cousins of cardinal flowers!


Made sure to get close-ups of the complex flowers.

If you look closely you can see why they and cardinal flowers are congeners.

There also was an abundance of bottle gentian!


Some of the plants looked stressed


But there were a lot of them


and it seemed to be fairly early in their bloom.

Got a view of a clump of sneezeweed near the pond’s edge.


Heard and saw a lot of geese overhead

These days it’s easier to like them in the sky than on the ground.

Stayed just a short time, enjoying the hint of topographic relief


and proceeded on with the day.

Saturday 5 March 2016. Helebores and Snowdrops

This morning at 7:40 it was 37 degrees under cloudy skies.

Hadn’t planned to post this morning: Saturday’s priority is preparing to teach yoga later in the day, and knew that trying to cram in too much activity just leads to frustration.
And the frustration factor seemed to be great this morning. Had earlier this week participated in a wonderful yoga teacher workshop where we worked in depth on intermediate-level poses. Now I had to prepare to teach the basics to older beginners and had to put that exciting stuff to the side, alas.

But tried to surrender to what I had to do, focusing on a point that occurred to me during the workshop: withdrawing tension from (not just “softening”) the face brings stability to the pose. Even beginners might be able to use that.

So, as usual, even such a basic practice left me feeling much more calm and open to the next activity than I anticipated.

At least I could stop and see what the early spring flowers were up to in the neighborhood.

The witch hazel still was aflower

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And the Helebores I've been following remained, looking a little better than last time.


There was a particularly lovely bunch of snowdrops near a well-opened helebore.

There were pink helebores!

And there were purple crocuses tightly closed, under the overcast sky.

Again wondered how could I have passed so many years in ignorance of Helebores. Thank you, Nancy!

Saturday 20 February 2016. Tracking the Helebores

7:22 am, 41 degrees F, the sky mostly gloriously clear. 

Practiced yoga first. Prepped for class last night, now focused on my own practice, my own points of awareness, i.e., where I need to work. Which comes out in my teaching and also is good for my students!

A simple task beckoned: check the neighborhood Helebores, and the ones near Japan House. 

Actually almost skipped this ride, thinking I could catch the Helebores tomorrow. 

But remembered that the image that calls now won’t be the same later. 

Checked a plant in the neighborhood that started (and advanced quite a way) coming up last month. The intervening cold held back its progress. 

But it still was quite alive. 

Meanwhile a neighbor passed on his bike and said, “don’t miss the witch hazel!”  

For which I thanked him. 

And rode on to the Japan House garden, where Helebores had been starting to bloom earlier this month. 

Thought last week’s iced blooms

Would burgeon in this week’s warmth. 

But they were little changed. 


Although I’ve loved and been aware of garden and native plants for as long as I can remember, especially in the early spring, Helebores somehow escaped my notice until quite recently. It was my dear late friend Nancy who pointed them out to me. What strange and wonderful plants they are! They come up early and survive the roller coaster throes of central Illinois winter, though I guess they need continuously mild conditions to really thrive. But nice to have them to show that growth happens even in the small spaces between the cold, grey times.