Sunday 14 May 2017. Mother’s Day at Meadowbrook

This morning at 5:30(!) it was 61 degrees F under clear, calm skies as I rolled Shadow out to head to Meadowbrook Park.

All around me was business green, interspersed with the orange-red of poppies, the purples, blues, yellows, and maroons of irises, and the bright whites, pinks, and deep reds of peonies.

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Though the bloom was further along than I expected.

A patch of irises in two shades of blue-violet bloomed Monet-perfect.

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A little way down Race Street, the spruces that shelter the fall Amanita mushrooms were putting out pale green shoots: a promise of health and growth.

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Caught another cluster of blooms in a neighborhood garden, including yellow irises.

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At Meadowbrook Park, saw the sun come up!

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Even caught the sun rising over McCullough Creek at the rabbit-statue bridge.

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Was grateful to be there, like I used to do so frequently but lately have managed so seldom.

Not far from the bridge and after the path turned east, saw lots of tender green foliage and fresh, new spiderwort in bloom.

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Blackberry brambles put out their white flowers.

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In the recently-created little pond along Davis Creek was a trio of Mallard drakes, preening and grooming vigorously.

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Stopped at the Freyfogle Overlook and found a bold tree swallow guarding its south edge.

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On the way out stopped to photograph the long shadows around the “wonky Christmas tree.”

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It was Mother’s Day, a day that brings up so much emotion on all sides: my Mom, my kids, their birth mothers, myself…. But my thoughts presently were unfocused, absorbed into the beauty of the morning.

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Wednesday 8 June 2016. Home from Crystal Lake Park via the Boneyard Riverwalk

At 6 this morning it was 53 degrees F, the sky clear.
Rode to Crystal lake pool and saw a goose family. Apparently their recruitment still is strong, despite last year’s talk of goose management.

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Before getting to the pool stopped to look at the bridge over the Saline Branch

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beneath which the fairly high water rushed.

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Then on the way back through the park liked how the morning sun came through the oaks.

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At Broadway south of University Avenue caught a nice view of the Boneyard Creek in public works project I’ve tended not to like much looking from Race Street.

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This was a much better place from which to see it, and it was fun to wind downhill along the creek and look into the water,

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though some parts were almost a little scary.

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Saw fish in the water,

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mallard ducks, and when I came to the last curve before going up to Race Street saw a great blue heron fly away.

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You might be able to see the wings of the heron in the upper right quadrant of the picture.

Glad I took the detour.

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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,

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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.

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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.

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

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

Sunday 6 July 2014. White Prairie Clover

At 5:38 this morning it was 64 degrees F and cloudy, last night’s heavy rain still in evidence. Well, it doesn’t look like there will be a drought this summer; maybe there will be too much rain. Optimal conditions (which of course are not nearly the same for all organisms) are a narrow window.

Decided on a quick trip northward, at least to check the progress of the construction on the Boneyard Creek at Race Street and see what was blooming in front of the Lincoln Bindery.

Happy to report that things seem to be happening on the Boneyard at Race Street.

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And was pleasantly surprised by a group of mallard ducks coming around the bend to the west side of Race.

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They looked like they might have been a group of siblings, just recently fledged.

Rode though the dark woods on Coler to the little prairie-let in front of the Lincoln Bindery, where the purple prairie clover was doing well, as I’d observed at several other local sites. There was quite a bit of the white species as well, though it was well into the course of its bloom.

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Compass plant was starting to bloom here, though there were few (compared to previous years) flower stalks.

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The Baptisia were bearing large green pods.

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Decided to head back and get in a longer yoga practice, so rounded the corner between Busey Woods and the cemetery and flew down that lovely hill, paying attention to the headstones on the hill to my left. Thought it would be a good image for my last thoughts: giddy flight, underdround the peaceful remains of those who’d already gone, and the soft green woods.

Saw a large group of Crystal Lake Canada geese on the usual corner, between the park and Jimmy John’s. Got a quick shot of them before heading into the rest of the day.

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Wednesday 30 April 2014. The 30th-Day Ride to Weaver

It was about 3:30 pm when I got on Rhododendron for the last ride for 30 Days of Biking 2014. It felt colder than the phone weather ap’s 48 degrees F, maybe because of the north-northwest wind. Was glad I wore the glove-mittens.
Had wanted to make a slightly more spectacular ending to 30 Days of Biking but settled on a revisiting of Weaver Park.

Once again loved riding on the bike lanes on Main Street. Wonder how long it will be before I don’t think of them as “new.”

Stopped for a shot of the little grove of oak trees across from the Dart plant. 20140430-232348.jpg
Weaver Park looked empty in the wind as I walked Rhododendron through what I thought was a shortcut to the purported buffalo-wallow pond.

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Next time will stick to the path even if the distance is a little longer.

Took a while of gazing out in the pond to see the ducks, at least a pair of mallards and also a pair or two of non-mallards (blue-winged teal, as I was later able to identify!). Also something swirled in the water close to shore but was not able to identify it.

On the way back took a photo of one of the bordering trees

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and was surprised by a vulture flying low from out of its branches, then out near the pond and around a couple of times.

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Felt refreshed with this visit to “wild” Weaver, a perfectly good finish for this year’s edition of 30 Days of Biking.

On the way home got a photo of a spring bulb garden I’d often admired.

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And tomorrow will be the start of the National Bike Challenge!

Sunday 16 March 2014. March Wind

As soon as I woke up this morning could hear the wind; “howling” was the word that came to mind.

At 6 the sky still was quite dark, but by 6:45 it was plenty light, mostly cloudy but with a rosy glow just above the eastern horizon. The temperature was 30 degrees F.

Destination was my favorite, Meadowbrook Park, but felt this morning like going by a different route and headed south on Vine Street.

Stopped at Blair Park to photograph the ash tree with the “bifurcated” trunk,

20140316-082431.jpg which, so far, is still there. It looks like work has been done (cabling) to maintain it. Maybe it will escape the ravages of the emerald ash borer, and maybe not. Alas, life gives no guarantees.

Judging from the paths of the flying late-fallen oak leaves, the wind was coming from the east, or the northeast. A wind from the east always throws me off; our weather generally comes from the west and moves to the east, with some influence from the north or the south, so isn’t that backward? What happens to make an east wind, some kind of back-up? Of course, tornadoes come from air in rotation…. That season is coming; hopefully there won’t be too much to say about it! Well, today’s wind still made a lot of sound in the distance but wasn’t interfering so much with my progress at this point.

It was lovely to see Meadowbrook pop in front of my eyes at the end of Vine Street. Decided to take the big loop in the reverse of my usual direction. Funny how going the other way on a familiar path can make it such a different experience.

First stop was the large cottonwood near the Windsor/Vine bridge, to observe lichens. Lots of orange today.

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Took a photo of McCullough Creek above the bridge. The water was quite clear; the surface ruffled some by the wind.

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Stopped for a shot of Baptisia pods rattling in the wind.

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They are especially eye- (and ear-) catching amidst the flattened prairie grass. The grass in the middle of the prairie was especially flat: had it been that

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trampled by deer or was it the way the snow had piled on it?

The red-winged blackbirds were active and vocal all along Davis Creek and out into the nearby prairie.

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Surprised a small group of mallard ducks under the rabbit statue bridge as I approached. Alas, they quickly swam upstream and did not pose for me.

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McCullough/Davis creeks were full of water.

Felt the brunt of the wind on the way home, though it was intermittent, if gusty. It was the kind of wind that could suddenly knock a cyclist off her bike, so tried to brace for it. Felt protected and warm by the appropriate clothing, and with no particular aches or pains, nor any noticeable fatigue. It was good to be out this morning, when I felt like a match for the March wind.

Friday 11 July 2013. The Water at Meadowbrook and Lots of Blooming Milkweed

The morning, at just about 5, was delightfully cool (62 degrees F) and clear; the breeze was from the south.

Even though I’m still behind on this blog, had to go to Meadowbrook and see what the prairie was like. Seemed like such a long time since last visit: only a few days, but it was so brief. Went with questions: what did the lead plant look like? Had the royal catchfly started to bloom? What were the compass plants doing?

On Race, across the street from the park saw the shape of a large bird in a tree. Passed it wondering whether it was a hawk or owl, so went back for another look. Was hard to tell in the dim early light, but thought it might be a great horned. Its wings and head looked dark with contrasting light breast feathers. It took off when I stopped to look at it. Thought the wings looked shorter and broader than a hawk’s, and it flew into the trees, so concluded it probably was an owl.

Had intended to make a camera-free trip, but just really missed the prairie flowers and wanted a record of how they had changed.

Stood on the bridge an saw those wide ripples on the water that meant some creature was stirring, but couldn’t identify it.

Then followed the creek downstream, where the camera first came out. Wanted to document the beaver-chewed alders and the increasingly “stream-y” McCullough Creek, post-beaver dam. There was so much leaf growth and so little evidence of the once flame-colored chew marks. Was then surprised by the tight group of adult-sized brown Mallard ducks: the source of those ripples upstream, presumably the family I’d seen below the bridge several times before.

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Saw what seemed to be water trickling from the ground right across the stream from where I stood. Another spring?

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Rode through the lush summer woods along the bank, the “short loop.” Parked Rhododendron and walked toward the small wooden ridge across McCullough Creek and the soft path.

Checked but didn’t see any deer bones in the water where I’d seem them before. There was a pile of sticks across the stream, flotsam, I think, rather than beaver work. Just upstream was still the tiny “waterfall” I’d seen in winter. It was the proverbial babbling brook.


The soft path was flooded, first time I’d seen so much water there.

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Walked a short distance past the flooded part of the path and saw the light of the rising sun on several common milkweed plants. They were in almost-full bloom, most with a pair or two of handsome orange and black milkweed beetles. It might just be where my awareness is landing, but it really seems to be a good year for common milkweed.

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Maybe it’s all the water.