It was 38 degrees F under cloudy skies at about 8:00 this morning as I headed toward the Kickapoo Rail to Trail intending to ride its entire length to St Joseph.
Even though the temperature was above freezing, I dressed carefully: down coat, fleece hood, and felted mittens. Cycling is an activity that adds heat to some areas of the body but distractingly subtracts it from others.
Rode out on East Main Street past the little grove of oaks across Main from the Dart plastic factory, a place where I regularly used to see a fox,
but haven’t the past several times I’ve been by.
Stopped at the Main Street edge of Weaver Park to get a glimpse of the winter version of horse nettle fruit and compass plant leaves,
Monarda seed heads,
and yellow coneflowers.
Then proceeded to where Main Street ran into University Avenue, the head of the KRT.
Headed east on that straight line and settled into the rhythm of pedaling.
In a shrubby stretch on the north side of the trail saw more cardinals than I’m used to seeing in one place, a “flock” of them, though they dispersed when I stopped to get a photograph.
Noticed a pile of old railroad ties on the south side of the trail,
evidence of the trail’s former (rails) life.
Passed Full’s Siding, with its towering, humming grain storage structures.
Felt enveloped by the landscape, close with the birds (saw juncos and woodpeckers in addition to the cardinals), the bare shrubs, the expanse of brown and black soil, the grey clouds.
Noticed nests in the bare trees and bushes, including this one topped with golden fluff
There was a strong smell, like sewage, which wasn’t exactly pleasant but which was of the outdoors and for that reason not completely unwelcome.
Light rain fell.
Rode as far as the Pioneer Seed facility just outside of St. Joseph.
The rain seemed to fall a bit more heavily now and didn’t want to have any more distance riding back in it than necessary.
On the way back saw a hidden “Christmas ” tree.
Noticed the seed head of a plant I didn’t quite recognize but that seemed like an unusual growth form, with a broad, flat stem.
Farther down saw that the once-green, erect spade-like leaves of prairie dock now were brown, bent down and curled, transformed with a different kind of beauty.
The rain had disappeared and felt like I could have reached St. Joe, but still was SO full with contentment to have been out on the KRT, “au vélo,” glad to have gotten the physical and especially the spiritual exercise.