It was 64 degrees F under thickly cloudy skies at about 6:15 this morning as the New and Improved Rhododendron (especially the new freewheel and chain!) and I headed to Meadowbrook Park.
Saw the wondrous cardinal flowers from the rabbit-statue bridge,
but did not go down to see them close-up.
Close to the banks, cup plants were in bloom.
Rode over the bridge, around the corner, and down the path to look for cardinal flowers in the wet willowy area where they had been in some (not all) years past, but saw none.
But then noticed two spikes of cardinal flowers on the other side of path,
close enough to view without walking in at all!
Then a little farther east, on the south side of the path, was a profusion of pink, purple, and blue-violet flowers: swamp milkweed (some aphid-bearing),
and blue vervain.
Farther down the path were tick trefoil,
which was not as abundant as I’ve seen in past years, victims of insect herbivory, it seems, Monarda, and a spike of American bellflower.
Later focused on the yellow flowers, Sylphium species: compass plants (S.laciniatum)
and even the occasionally prairie dock (S. terebinthinaceum) bloom,
in addition to the cup plants (S. perfoliatum) farther
back: four tall, robust, sandpaper-leafed, yellow-flowered Sylphium “sisters!”
Also in yellow, a little more distantly related and more delicate, were tall Coreopsis.
Interspersed was bush clover,
Hidden lower among other foliage saw the first buds of this year’s cream gentians
The list of common native flowers observed this morning still is incomplete; they are so many now! I will just mention: common milkweed with maturing pods, Baptisia with green pods, and remaining though past peak rattlesnake master, purple coneflowers, yellow coneflowers, false sunflowers, and Culver’s root.
Then headed away from Meadowbrook Park, east on Windsor Road.
Corn to the left of me, soybeans to the right, here I am, central Illinois!
Rode next to the creek, a little tributary of the Salt Fork that paralleled Windsor Road for a while.
As I did a month ago on this route, stopped to photograph the exotic but lovely pink soapwort blooms.
There was the sign to warn of the dangerous hill
but still couldn’t tell exactly where it was.
Central Illinois, alright.
Looked down at the crossing of another little tributary where I’d often seen wood ducks before,
Did see some nice swamp milkweed.
Rode as far as the junction with Homer Lake Road
and this time instead of doubling back headed left, toward east Washington Street. On the way passed a small clearing at the edge of a cornfield, seemingly devoted to burning things.
It’s been there since the first time I remember passing it in 2011 or so. It makes me think “little Gehenna.”
Back in town, on Washington Street, I pass the Brookins baseball field (it may be called something else), northward across which is the shaded area where my friends from the Champaign County Nursing Home and I have popcorn, brownies, and coffee on nice days.
Back home, there was a Cooper’s hawk in the dead ash tree behind our garage.
Made me wish my phone camera had a better zoom.
If I had to compare this time with my ride of a month ago, I’d say it was slightly less magical (that time has not been displaced!) but it had its own particular, considerable delights.
Especially remembered from October!