Saturday 23 June 2018. Catching up with the Bloom at Meadowbrook, and Catching a Little Rain Just South

It was 64 degrees F under cloudy skies at

7:00 this morning (just before which spotted this perfect exoskeleton of a nymphal cicada) as I went to the garage expecting to take Rhododendron to the KRT to St. Joseph.

But Rhododendron was not in the garage; after a very brief moment of panic remembered that my husband picked me up from my job assignment at Clark-Lindsey yesterday and I’d forgotten to load the bike in the car.

So the plan changed from the KRT to a circle of Meadowbrook and maybe a ride south on Race Street. l drove to CL and parked in the lot: unlocked my bike, and headed east along Windsor Road for a counter-clockwise circle of the park.

The spiderwort still were plenty evident, but they bore lots of brown seed heads, indicating that more of their bloom was behind rather than ahead of them.

But false sunflowers,

purple coneflowers, black-eyed Susans

yellow coneflowers,

and compass plants

were just beginning their bloom.

Farther down the path, at the viewing platform, the apparently expanding (compared to previous recent years) patch of lead plant was in mid-bloom,

as was the Baptisia.

Framed by lead plant blooms was this new inflorescence of rattlesnake master.

Decided that lead plant is much more spectacular in detail than from a distance.

Noticed that wild quinine, also in mi-bloom,

was more abundant than I remember from previous years.

Noticed a patch of pasture rose already full of green hips.

All along through the prairie, the common milkweed still was full of fragrant pink spheres of flowers, but didn’t stop to photograph them till I saw this one next to an early Monarda bloom.

Noticed that the wet place where the irises and cardinal flowers appear (in their respective times) was quite grown up with willows.

Tree swallows (there were three, all flew at my approach,and one returned) perched on a bird house.

Continued on and crossed McCullough Creek (which was quite full) at the rabbit statue bridge,

opposite my usual direction of travel.

Did not go straight out to Race Street but continued north on the path and exited near the “wonky Christmas tree,”

which looked like it had been trimmed (or had grown) since I observed it last.

Turned south on Race Street toward the open farm fields, where there was incredible corn!

Light rain began to fall before I reached Old Church so turned back

Was surprised by two deer, right next to the road.

They were completely unperturbed by my stopping to photograph them.

Then returned to the CL lot, packed the bike into the car and headed home, somewhat better synchronized with the season.

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Saturday 9 June 2018. Dodging the Rain

It was 69 degrees F and partly cloudy at 5:45 this morning as I headed for my job assignment in Savoy.

Stopped for a photo of the yellow cabbage roses on Race Street,

which made a beautiful picture, even if the plant appears beset with disease

Alas.

Headed west on Windsor Road, stopping near the Polinatarium to look east and view the sunrise,

one of the joys of being an early riser.

Near Neil Street, at the sign for the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration, stopped to catch the very first tiny blooms of the lead plant.

Arrived at work in plenty of time and, as always, enjoyed my shift.

But about half an hour before it was time to go, the sky opened up and the rain that I was convinced would wait till I got home arrived in abundance. And continued to fall past my clock-out time.

So I sat in the lobby of my workplace and watched the rain outside, checking the radar on my phone periodically.

After twenty minutes or so, decided to venture out into the now very light rain, at least to the Starbuck’s on South Neil. It seemed to be clearing up some as I rode and considered makings break for home, but then there was a clap of thunder, and so reverted to the Starbuck’s plan. About half a block away the rain fell more heavily, and I got fairly wet.

As soon as I walked in the barista said the hand dryer in the bathroom might help. I accepted the invitation, and in fact, it helped a lot!

Then I hung out and had a spinach feta egg wrap and coffee and worked on an older blog post.

Soon the rain subsided, and after a pleasant time of writing headed back homeward, passing on the way this little “waterfall,”

Rode homeward on St. Mary’s Road and stopped to see a horse near a recent puddle.

Then stopped briefly at the prairie planting on Florida and Orchard and saw one of the many handsome pairs of milkweed beetles.

and proceeded, dry-shod (and dry-clothed), toward home.

Saturday 31 March 2018. Slow Spring

This morning I got to see the dawn: purple, pink, orange, gold-yellow.

Saw the sun-disc at 6:47.

It was reflected in the front entrance to the yoga studio, where I attended to the first order of business, yoga practice.

This year the spring is coming very slowly, as if reluctantly. But the morning light, colorful today, is coming earlier, right on schedule.

After practice, the drama of the sunrise had faded, and the sky was filled up with grey, warm spring-weather-delaying clouds.

On the way home, noticed a pair (about 20 feet apart) of mallard ducks standing in front of someone’s house. Looking for a place to nest? Then noticed a cat in the window watching the duck(s).

Did not feel like suiting up to continue the bike ride in the rain so put Rhododendron away in the garage and walked to the local coffee shop to write.

Noticed the stump of a recently cut tree.

The sawdust was remarkably orange

Continued my observations au pied; it was so nice to see more color:

hellebores,

new bloodroot,

Scilla coming up among sweet gum balls.

daffodils,

purple crocuses,

pale lavender crocuses among ivy leaves.

I am grateful to witness how, slowly but surely, spring unfolds again.

Sunday 18 June 2017. Dark Clouds but No Rain

It was 71 degrees F and cloudy with a 12-mph WSW wind at 6:25 pm as I took Rhododendron out toward south First Street.

Rode south on Race Street, reasonably comfortable though feeling the somberness of the clouds.

Did not stop before Windsor Road except to examine the bike for the source of a light banging sound, but could not make it happen when I got off and spun each wheel independently. It was annoying but didn’t seem to impair the bike’s performance so just rode on.

Stopped at the linden tree on the corner of Race and Windsor.

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Was not sure whether it had not yet fully bloomed or whether it was mostly done blooming, but it didn’t exude the perfume I remember from past years.

Headed into the westerly breeze on Windsor, noticing dark clouds ahead.

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Observed how the diminished light and color pressed on my mood. The expression “like a wet blanket” came to mind.
There was some current pain in it (everyone has his or her list!), a little fear that the clouds would deliver discomfort-inducing rain or even electrical danger, but also some broody comfort, a little space to allow that pain before going back to face the slings and arrows that caused it.

Nevertheless decided to limit the ride (oh waste of extra daylight and free time!) to checking the lead plant at the City of Champaign “Prairie Restoration.”

The lead plants were starting to bloom,

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lax stewardship notwithstanding.

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And didn’t notice any plague of beetles, either. There is hope for that place, I think.

Thought again that I was missing a chance to get in good ride, but really felt averse to being far from home in a storm, and was not sure that the banging, knocking sound was not the sign of some kind of trouble with the bike.

Then riding north on First Street happened to look look at my right Keen sandal, which had a plastic knob at the end of loop of the elastic lacing, and saw that it was banging on the bike frame. Mystery solved!

So on the way back stopped at Japan House garden

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Where amazing, durable hellebores contributed to the design of the hosta planting.

Also stopped at the prairie planting on Florida and Orchard, where the summer bloom was beginning to build.

There were post-peak spiderwort

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and Penstemon

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Black-eyed Susan,

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common milkweed, in a big way(!)

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false sunflower, sporting either milkweed or box elder bugs,

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and lovely blue vervain.

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Made it home without getting wet, satisfied enough with the ride.

Saturday 20 May 2017. Meadowbrook Before the Rain

It was 54 degrees F and cloudy at 7:00 this morning, with the wind from the east.

Missed the sunrise, but it was not spectacular because of the low cloud cover.

I’ve been slowed down by various things lately and really was ready to ride. Not only do I miss observing the word from the bike but I’ve come to take the physical activity for granted and don’t like having less of it. Even so, a long ride was not in the cards.

Thought, paradoxically, as I aimed Shadow south on Race Street that time demands can turn even a bike ride (or yoga practice, fo that matter) into something I “have to” rather than “want to” do. Usually, if I take some effort to re-arrange my thoughts and re-focus, it’s at least partly possible to restore the the joy to the once completely joyful activity. Makes me wonder whether I can bring that attitude to other things that have to be done and infuse them with more joy.

It was good to see some of my favorite neighborhood perennials in bloom:

Cabbage roses,

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A very fancy Clematis,

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and Asian poppies

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which seem to exude the very spirit of my late friend Nancy, who loved them so much.

Rode south on familiar Race Street and crossed Windsor Road with little waiting at the traffic lights. I think the city traffic authority must have adjusted it. It no longer seems to disturb my enjoyment of the morning ride. At least not lately.

Rode right to the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek

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the banks of which are becoming quite lush, then crossed over and rode just far enough to spot a blooming spiderwort.

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Considered taking the rest of the loop, but heeded the raindrops and distant thunder and headed back.

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Not long after, there was electrical activity and lots of rain.

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

It was 55 degrees F with steady rain falling

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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.

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Florida Avenue was wet and green.

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

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

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

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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 25 March 2017. Burned Prairie and Curtis Road

It was 60 degrees F and cloudy this morning at 7:50 as I topped off Rhododendron’s tires and headed out for, in accordance with the wind direction, parts south and east.

The ride was smooth and swift and was not strongly drawn to stop and photograph until, close to Windsor Road, it started to rain.

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Didn’t have to wait at all for the light to change at Race and Windsor. Maybe they’ve worked out the timing, or maybe I just got lucky.

Meadowbrook was beginning to show green from a distance.

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Got the customary shot of McCullough/ Davis creeks from the Rabbit Statue bridge.

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Over the bridge, around the corner and on a little way noticed that a section of last year’s growth had been burned away,

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leaving the ground charred and almost bare and affording a view far into the middle of the prairie. Was glad to see this bit of prairie management. Hoped it would reduce what seemed to be disease in some of the prairie plants.

Saw a beaten path from the toward Davis Creek and followed into the water.

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In the creek was an abundance of filamentous green algae. Near the stream, rocks and logs were covered with soft green moss.

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Back along the path, most of the prairie still was pale gold.

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Red-winged blackbirds perched on old compass plant stalks and on the tops of bird houses.

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and announced their presence.

Noticed how much easier it was to ride with the temperature at 60 than it was when it was in the thirties!

Rode on to Windsor and turned east into its bordering sidewalk and then to Philo Road and eastward on Curtis Road.

There was a southeastern breeze that required some extra exertion, but knew it would mean ease on the way back.

Rode downhill pretty much all the way to High Cross, not much encumbered by the cross wind.

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Turned back at High Cross Road.

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The way back was indeed uphill, which made me think that a route for the future (especially with a west wind) would go out Curtis and back another way, at least between High Cross and Philo Road.

And then, at Philo Road the path went downhill again. Hooray!

Saw a nice roadside tree just before Race street.

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Back near Meadowbrook noticed in the tree plantation across the street that a lot of the trees looked poorly, which may have been why there has been so much cutting. Maybe it was not that someone wanted the area cleared.

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The rain stopped.

And back in the neighborhood there were golden daffodils among copious blue Scilla and early manifestation of Virginia bluebells.

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Oh, welcome, this leading edge of extravagant, profligate springtime!

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