Saturday 16 July 2016. Yoga in the Park!

It was 70 perfect degrees under a perfect blue sky this morning at 8:30 as I approached the Vine street entrance to Meadowbrook Park, yoga mat secured to Discovery II’s rack.

It was my day to teach Yoga in the Park!

On the way, stopped to observe the purple and yellow coneflowers, common and sometimes stricken with wilted petals but here shown in their glory.

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Although I’ve been through this park hundreds (at least) of times, today was new. Usually Meadowbrook Park is “my” haven of solitude; today it was full of people, and I was grateful to be among them. Felt embraced by and ready to extend a spirit of welcome.

Led 50 people as best as I could! It was not the kind of class I, especially as an Iyengar teacher, would have taught in the studio, but I watched the students I was able to see, stuck to poses not likely to produce dangerous mistakes, and made as much eye contact as possible.

Felt my energy start to lag a bit toward the end, but we all survived, and I think with some enjoyment!

On the way back got a photo of a red-winged blackbird scolding me for coming too close to his territory.

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Was full of joy and gratitude (and a bit of post-excitement fatigue), eagerness for practice, an awareness and need to let go of the pumped ego. Ready to take the next step into the unknown.

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Saturday 1 August 2015. Weaver Park and North High Cross Road. 

At 5:35 this morning it was, according to the phone weather ap, 61 degrees and clear, the just-past full moon getting close to the western horizon. But the air felt warmer than 61 and didn’t bring a jacket. Hoped I wouldn’t get cold.  

  

Today the destination was north High Cross Road, by way of Washington Street and Weaver Park. 

Thought this sign at the entrance to Weaver Park was humorous, if a bit sad. 
  

At edge of the “buffalo-wallow” pond caught the clear western sky behind a group of three of the “Sylphium sisters”: cup plant (S. perfoliatum), compass plant (S. lacineata), and rosinweed (S. integrifolium)
  

And prairie grasses were starting to bloom: the first big bluestem, I believe,

and, I’m guessing, switchgrass (Panicum virginiana–there actually is a group called “panic grasses,” must be a story behind that!). 

  

It really is time for me to get serious about distinguishing at least the common prairie grasses beyond big bluestem and Indian grass.   

Zoomed in a little to the pond, largely covered with water lily (I guess) pads and cattails. 

  

Saw these pads move, clearly, but didn’t spot the creature responsible for the movement. 

Then cut across Dodson Drive and east on Main, across University through the Beringer subdivision and North on High Cross Road. 

Passed the site on the northeast corner of the bridge where I used to follow the breakdown of a possum road kill and stopped to see whether any evidence of possum bones remained.  None did, only new garbage. Could probably have found some with a bit of effort but overruled that notion and went on. 

Out in the country on High Cross Road, the air was cooler than it was in town.  The temperature reading this morning must have come from outside of town. The change was pleasant. The ride was pleasant. It was not high exhilaration but reasonable comfort, with an awareness of how much better it was than so many other possible states or situations. 

Rode on and stopped at the edge of Brownfield woods for a shot of pale jewelweed 

  

and Joe Pye weed. 

  

Joe Pye weed (another provocative name with a story I don’t know) for some reason doesn’t tend to make me stop and photograph it, but got pulled in by this amazingly full clump. 

Continued north on pleasant High Cross Road and had to document the absurdly vigorous corn

with its absurdly tidy edges and extremely close proximity to the road.  Welcome to the  central Illinois, the icon of fertility!    

Thought the sight of morning glories on corn stalks had gotten mundane and not make me want to stop, but these were hard to resist. 
  

Then High Cross jogged where it crossed Leverett Road, and on the other side of Leverett was greeted by a male red-winged blackbird that hovered over me and made a cheep (complaint or warning, I guess) I hadn’t previously associated with red-wings. 

  

And it followed me a while. It was fun to imagine that this bird was trying to tell me something or was sent to protect me, though I think it simply didn’t like my being in its territory.  

There also were a number of dickcissels, those “mini-meadowlarks” with their distinctive call, in this area. 

Rode as far as county road 2200 N and turned around.  The red-winged blackbird near Leverett Road hovered over me when I passed through its territory again. 

On the way back saw spiderwort (a different species than the prairie one, I think) at Brownfield Woods. 
  

Also saw American bellflower, another favorite, which had completely escaped my notice on the way out. 

  

Returned via Main Street and stopped at the wildflower garden across from Weaver Park to see the royal catchfly. 
 

Was glad for the miles and the colors of summer!

Monday 19 May 2014. Close-Up With Deer and Birds

It was 45 degrees F at 5:23 am, the sky cloudy but with gaps and some thin places. The slightly more than half moon was high in the sky and fuzzy.

Near the horizon there was color! First noticed pink behind tree silhouettes and when more of the sky was visible, purple, golden peach, and turquoise. Very nice!

Sped across the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek in Meadowbrook Park and proceeded directly to the soft path through the prairie to see if there was anything left of the shooting stars. Stopped before I got there because there were deer in the path. Two small ones (does, I presumed) walked across the path and into the prairie on the east side; a larger third one, also antler-less but likely a buck, stopped in the path and faced me directly. Not a “deer in the headlights,” this one. Took a bunch of photos with my “dedicated” (i.e., not the iPhone) camera, but since I haven’t yet figured out how to send the pics via wireless connection to the phone, just made a sketch from the camera shot.

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Could have gotten him to move, I think, if I’d confidently and smoothly advanced, but decided to show him some respect and turned back the other way.

Farther along saw a make red-winged blackbird with mostly white epaulettes on the ground next to the path. He let me get rather close, and I took some photos. He gave the “Star Trek” call and then flew to a dry stalk farther away from the path. (See sketch.)

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Wondered if he was ok. Molting, perhaps?

Also got a decent shot of a male goldfinch, one of those bright yellow little vehicles of joy.

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Tuesday 28 May 2013. Somber Morning on the Prairie, with First Iris

It was 64 degrees, or thereabout, and cloudy.  Sped on Rhododendron toward Meadowbrook Park.  Felt a little insensitive today to the visual details along Race Street, but did enjoy the feeling of going fast without much effort.

At Meadowbrook took the standard clockwise loop from Race Street.

Stomped through the soggy ground a little away from the path on the southern edge of the loop to see the first open blue flag iris blooms of the year.  Always feel like I’m trespassing when I walk

First MB Iris 2013

off the trail to get closer to a subject, but what choice do I have?  Especially with no zoom.

Farther along the big loop, saw some old prairie clover and also old Baptisia pods.

Old Bush Clover, Old Baptisia Poda

Stopped at the Freyfogel Overlook (observation platform) to get a view of the interior of the prairie.  A deer was striding, apparently alone, away from the others, eastward, rather close to the platform; then a smaller, though already not much smaller, deer appeared

Large Fawn? Following Doe

following behind her.  Heard a red-winged blackbird say, “Mom!” in the same place where I’d heard it last year.

The Penstemon are starting to open.  Most of the spiderwort (flowers of which only last a day) were only part way open.  It’s not the

Spiderwort and Penstemon 28 May 13

time of day alone that governs when the flowers open; I’ve seen them open or closed early in the morning.  I wonder what it is that does govern the exact time of opening.

At the north edge of the park along Windsor Road stopped to get a wide shot of today on the prairie.  The wind made it hard to photograph the taller, light grasses.  One kind had what seemed to me an unusual, broad inflorescence.  I wonder what these early-

Prairie Wide Shot w:Waving Grasses

blooming grasses are.  Could they be native?  My cursory digging on the internet did not turn up any information on spring-flowering prairie grasses, except for June grass, the pictures of which looked nothing like this one.  Grasses are challenging.  I am committed, however, to be more on top of the summer prairie grass species this year!

In this day of muted enthusiasm it was funny to think of this second year of close observation “au velo.”  There is so much to anticipate!  Will the anticipation increase my appreciation of what I’d seen before, or will it set me up for disappointment if the “show” is not as good as last year’s?  There’s one way to find out….