Sunday 26 July 2015. West on Curtis Road till It Turns to Gravel

This morning at 5:15, as I was preparing for this today’s ride, noticed it was still quite dark. Shortly thereafter noticed light coming in and through the east windows, and it was faintly pink. Was sure I missed a gorgeous pre-dawn show. 

But did make it out on Rhododendron in time for  the official sunrise time of 5:45. The sky was fairly cloudy and golden toward the eastern horizon but no longer pink. It was 73 degrees F and quite humid. 

Today’s destination was Curtis Road toward White Heath, any amount beyond Rising Road, the limit of my last westward Curtis Road foray. 

Stopped at “my” apple tree and got a shot of the small apples and a bare branch. 

Wondered what exactly causes the apples to be large one year and small the next. Rainfall, perhaps. 

Rode to Windsor Road and turned west, then looked back east for a view of the sunrise.  

Not bad, as they go. 

Rode on Windsor, through the lovely expanse of experimental farm fields to the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration. Was just thinking of how much nicer it would be if it were more managed when there appeared this lovely grove of rose mallows with yellow coneflowers and rattlesnake master in front of them. 
The seed heads if the lead plants still were nice also.  

The place has its charms. 

Rode west on Windsor to Prospect, then south, and west again on Curtis. Thought as I rode about the line between peaceful solitude and loneliness.  So far, Velo du Jour is all about the former, but I know that edge is there. 

At about the 6-mile mark, my hips and knees gave their customary complaint, and as usual it soon subsided and felt like I could go a long way. 


Passed Rising Road (reminded me of the Irish blessing , “May the road rise up to meet you…”) crossed a good-sized stream (Kaskaskia Ditch, I believe) in which a great blue heron waded.     

Was surprised to see a double-pointed arrow sign at county road 600E, but it turned out to be but a slight jog. 

The real problem was that the road was covered with rather fine gravel.


So turned back.  Eight miles out was ok. 

On the way back went north on Rising Road to Windsor and then to First Street and east on scenic St. Mary’s Road. The sports complexes keep encroaching, but there still is at least one round barn left,

and did also see a couple of fenced horses close to the road. And best of all there was the speedy hill near Lincoln Avenue (not photographed but enjoyed)! 


Thursday 11 September 2014. Dear Late Bloomers

Noticed the date of this trip–two huge towers disappeared thirteen years ago today; thousands (millions?!) of people have died from war and starvation since then, and life goes on….

Well, I confess that it’s actually a couple of weeks since I took this ride and can’t remember the temperature or the exact time, though it was pretty close to sunrise, and of course, the photos are of Meadowbrook Park.

McCullough Creek was high after recent rain. Near the rabbit-statue bridge, walnuts were evident in the walnut trees.

Was glad to get a shot of the goldenrods on the south side of the bridge; it’s a good spot to visit and revisit and notice how the scene changes.

The lovely pink halberd-leafed rose mallow was still blooming. I think the relatively wet summer was good for it.

There were slow-moving (with the chill) insects in the stiff goldenrod. Had they spent the night there?

Near the Marker statue were the year’s first blue blooms of bottle gentians! Was happy, as always, to see them, the swan song of the prairie.

Nearby was a nice dense patch of Bidens, another yellow sign of the end of summer.

Saw a delicate stalk of fresh Gaura flowers, one of the species, like compass plants, that were a relative rarity this summer. They were with some holdout Heliopsis, which seemed, in contrast, to have done well this year.

Felt glad to have these late-blooming flowers to ease the transition to the letting-go of fall.

Sunday 14 September 2014. Waning Summer

Did some yoga practice before this morning’s ride and didn’t get on the road till 7, when it still was only 44 degrees F. The sky was clear except for some eastern cloud remnants. The familiar route felt different right after practice–yoga and cycling certainly different kinds of activities.

Nevertheless did not miss stopping at “my” apple tree and getting a shot of a cluster of good-sized, quite red apples still up in the tree with the moon behind them,

as well as ripe and past-ripe appes in the street. They always remind me of the painter Cezanne. Though I don’t think Cezanne was fascinated by their decomposition.

At Meadowbrook saw the sun rise over the mist-softened landscape, like in a story book, or a dream.

The late-blooming rose mallow was in tight bud.

Found a little bunch of asters surrounded by goldenrod, an icon of late summer.

But it seemed it was harder to find this icon than in years past; the asters seem more scarce.

Near the Marker statue, the bottle gentians were really in bloom.

Didn’t attempt to determine how wide an area they covered, but was happy for now to see several plants. Noticed that this year they slightly overlapped the bloom of their cousins the cream gentians.

Nearby, among the yellow Bidens flowers, was a garden spider in its web with a wrapped prey.

The base of the statue seemed to convey a similar theme: death is always close to life.

Heading toward home (on the cool side of comfortable but not miserably cold) along the north edge of Meadowbrook Park noticed lots of sweetly twittering goldfinches. Stopped to observe them (no zoom, alas)

and saw that most of their sound seemed to be coming from several apparent fledglings, vibrating their wings and clamoring to their parents for money, I mean food. It was another sign of the passing summer. Reminded me that even birds can be reluctant to grow up and to be patient (even while sticking to those boundaries) with my own fledgeling(s).