Saturday 27 May 2017. Out Yankee Ridge Road via Lush Meadowbrook

It was 64 degrees F at 6:20 under cloudy skies this morning as I got Rhododendron the road bike out for a long-awaited spin!
The nice people at Neutral Cycle put the pedal crank back into is working position, replaced the cables and brake pads, and reduced the number of speeds to five (really, who needs more than that, at least in central Illinois?) by removing the rusted-out front derailleur.

Was amazed by Rhododendron’s speed and smoothness and didn’t stop until Windsor Road, where I did not wait long to cross.

Made the customary stop at the rabbit-statue bridge.

img_8688

Then sought blue flag irises, which I found, more abundant and widespread than I ever remember seeing them.

img_8698

img_8702

And of course there were spiderwort

img_8728

and Penstemon.

img_8694

Pasture rose provided a pink counterpoint to the greens, white and blue.

img_8732

At the Freyfogle overlook was lead plant, with its festive-looking foliage.

img_8744

The clouds broke up enough to reveal some blue sky and cloud-shapes over the land.

img_8739

Saw dew-beaded spiderwebs.

img_8711

The flowers and foliage at Meadowbrook this morning were spectacular and particularly uplifting, at least to this observer!

Then rode along Windsor road on the “sidewalk,” (which I see more as a multi-use path) to Philo Road and east on Old Church, then south on Yankee Ridge Road.

Here is Yankee Ridge at Old Church Road, viewed from the west

img_8747

as ever, a place of quiet. I think of it as a bit of sacred silence, accompanied by its stark and subtly beautiful view.

Wanted to go on

img_8754

but time limitations prompted me to turn back at the road that is paved to the east but is wet and unpaved to the west.

img_8756

Returning home rode into a north wind (which explains the ease of the trip out) and just wanted to get back!

img_8760

The fog blew toward me and I was sure it would rain even though the phone Ap assured me it wouldn’t. There was nothing to do (as is so common in so many aspects of life!) but hunker down and press on.

After some discomfort just settled into it as if I were lost, but not in a bad way, just absorbed in the present. And made it back with some satisfaction.

Advertisements

Saturday 23 August 2014. Treasures in the August Fog

This morning at 6:20 there was fog all around and already 73 degrees F. Finally the summer seems to have arrived, as if brought by the returning U of I students. Since my arrival in Urbana as an undergraduate 40 years ago (almost to the day!), I think I can count on one hand the number of times it has been cool during the third week of August, no matter what else was happening during the rest of the summer.
The fog was another deterent to heading out in the country on Rhododendron, the road bike: safety in the limited visibility was a concern; also knew that Meadowbrook Park would be full of gorgeous fog-enhanced images, not to mention the red cardinal flowers and royal catchfly.

One crazy image that caught my attention early in the trip, next to “my” apple tree, was a fresh, full iris flower. 20140823-085130.jpg
Was it really unusual or are there late-summer-blooming irises I don’t know about?

And had to take a picture of bunches the apples, some quite red, on the tree.
20140823-211704.jpg
The fog was not too dense to ride through comfortably, but it made just about any scene into a lovely, mysterious image, for example, the view of Davis and McCullough creeks upstream from the rabbit-statue bridge, with a tiny dab of red from the cardinal flowers.
20140831-214011.jpg
Today was the day to go down and get really close to the cardinal flowers, though a lot of vegetation stood between me and them.

20140831-214457.jpg
Carefully bushwhacked all the way into the damp but not running bottom of Davis Creek, and the trouble to get there was rewarded: cardinal flowers, up close!

20140901-081729.jpg
Got a shot with surrounding vegetation, especially goldenrod for contrast.

20140901-081956.jpg
Looking back toward the bridge, could see a large dew-defined spiderweb in the foreground. Also there were visible spiderwebs on the bridge; could have spent the whole time shooting nothing but spiderwebs! So didn’t include but a few in this post.

Up above the wingstem and elderberries and walnut trees

20140904-090125.jpg
heard a good variety of bird song (really need to get some good, small binoculars) and a kind of low-pitched knocking sound–a large woodpecker? Remembered that such a sound once turned out to come from a beaver, but this was definitely coming from quite a ways up in the tree. Perhaps just a squirrel.

Down a little way along the path was a web occupied by a garden spider.

20140904-090220.jpg
Out in the prairie, little beads of dew clung to every surface.

20140902-093035.jpg
Loved especially the way they lined up along the grass stems.

Saw some delicate spikes of pink Gaura, a lovely counterpoint to all the yellows of late summer.

20140902-154722.jpg
Was amazed again by the abundance of cream gentians in a spot where I hadn’t noticed them in previous years, among the partridge peas. Made me wonder how they disperse and how long the plants live. Noticed yet another example of the tip of the plant having been nipped off.

20140902-154836.jpg
At the head of the soft path to the middle of the prairie was a compass plant in bloom, fresh and lovely but much shorter than what I saw in previous years. So it wasn’t the drought that limited its growth; last year they were already less abundant than the year before. On the other hand, it might be that this year’s bloom was determined by last year’s moisture levels. We’ll see what happens next year.

20140902-155015.jpg
Farther along, a stalk of Indian grass, its flower-top coated with tiny dew drops, leaned out into the path. It and the big bluestem, which seemed to have about concluded their bloom (already!), brushed their little water droplets against my arms as I passed, like a greeting.

20140902-155203.jpg
Saw a very tightly woven spiderweb with a tiny spider in the middle.

20140904-132900.jpg
Got a shot of bush clover among the gentians with fog in the background, looking very handsome in its shades of white and reddish-brown.

20140904-133017.jpg
the slim, leaning, bending bush clover stalks also looked nice near the purple of the ironweed.

20140902-155457.jpg
Noticed some freshly-blooming spikes of Baptisia (which starts to bloom fairly early among the prairie flowers), a little amazing among the late summer grasses.

20140904-134949.jpg
Found some remaining royal catchfly, fewer in number but still boldly visible in flaming scarlet, set off by the white of the cream gentians.

20140902-155402.jpg
Then turned back the way I’d come, passing the thicket with tall trees with undergrowth beneath them. At the top of the trees were quite a number of robin-sized birds, some of which I think were robins but at least one other (it had a grey or brown back, a grey head, and distinctively white breast feathers) that was not. Besides this magical world of fog and its condensation on spiderwebs and plants where I could happily have stayed much longer was one of birds I’d barely touched and about which, without binoculars, I could only wonder.

Heading home was glad not to have missed what I did see and content enough to let go of what I didn’t.

Thursday 26 June 2014. Brevity: Fog, New Flowers, and Spider Webs

It was 66 degrees F at 5:20 this morning, under a good layer of fog. Alas, again, not much time, but it was wonderful to have this dramatic weather filling full the little space there was.

20140627-082626.jpg

Some linden trees still had fragrant blooms, but many were finished.

Noticed the mighty dark-green corn rising from the fog in the field to the west.

Near the rabbit bridge over high McCullough Creek heard lots of energetic bird song that I couldn’t identify but that seemed unusually sweet.

20140627-105507.jpg

Saw the summer prairie’s first Monarda in the fog.

20140627-105555.jpg
Knew there would be spiderwebs out there, strung with beads of condensed fog, and sure enough, there they were, though the memory of a beautiful foggy morning last summer kept pushing certain expectations of what I should find. For on thing, it seemed harder this morning than last year to get the webs to stand out.

20140627-105638.jpg
But found plenty of webs. Was focusing on one when it broke before my eyes–startling, actually!

20140629-084256.jpg
Made me think of spiderwebs, there all the while but usually hidden (especially from unsuspecting prey) and now revealed, so precise and strong in their design yet so easily dismantled, like a Tibetan sand painting.

It was hard not to stay for endless photos of the marvels, but had to keep to the limited time, and remembered how brief the fog would be, and the spider webs, the flowers, each in its turn, this life, really. Reluctant to let go of any of them. All so brief! But reminded myself that every little moment was huge and eternal; it was good to be here at all.

Saw the soft outline of the ears, head, neck, and back of a good-sized deer through the fog back in the prairie.

20140629-170623.jpg Trust me on this one; no zoom. It stayed still and aimed toward me as I came around the southeast corner of the path.

Walked Rhododendron slowly and receptively along the path toward the Freyfogel Overlook, perfect preparation to catch the little patch of my first blooming Meadowbrook purple prairie clover of the year. There is hardly a more photogenic flower!

20140627-081332.jpg
Got shots of more dew-heavy spiderwebs, including some among the spiderwort.

20140629-084834.jpg

And of course made sure to see the lead plant.

20140629-085016.jpg
Saw the first new yellow coneflowers with drops of water clinging to the emerging petals.

20140629-085221.jpg
Was amazed at how many species had started to bloom since the previous Saturday!

The trip reminded me of a beautiful postage stamp: a lot of beauty in a small space.

Wednesday 31 July 2013. Beaded Spider Webs and Cardinal Flower Debut

It was 70 degrees F at 6:30 am, with fog and light drizzle.

Had a ridiculous “argument” with myself about whether to take Rhododendron and get it wet or take the car to Meadowbrook and have a long walk, which I haven’t been doing much with all the bike riding….

Actually decided first to take the car, but then had to go back because I’d left the iPhone on the charger and just could not let all these beautiful photographs go untaken! When I got back just decided to not worry about rust and take the bike after all. Did worry about whether all the wonderful fog would be gone by the time I got my act together to make it to Meadowbrook. Oh, the self-imposed obstacles to peace….

But even with the delays, Meadowbrook was a foggy wonderland! It would have been worth the trip for the water-beaded spider webs alone! Decided to park poor, wet Rhododendron and walk the big loop to maximize observation of the enchanted landscape.

Again wished for a fancy camera; did see a guy stalking the spider webs with a large camera and tripod.

Took lots and lots of spider web photos. Here are a few.

20130805-213143.jpg

20130805-213247.jpg

20130805-213337.jpg

20130805-213423.jpg
Stopped to look at McCullough/Davis creeks from the rabbit bridge and noticed a small but clear bit of red: cardinal flowers!!

20130805-213906.jpghad to go down through at least some of the vegetation to get closer! As I wondered how I would get across the stream to see it, noticed, on my side of the stream, two vigorous plants with tiny red buds! Contented myself with a couple of shots;

20130805-214324.jpg
would be back for more!

In addition to the beaded spider webs were leaves and stems decorated with beads of water.

20130805-214659.jpg

20130805-214827.jpg

Got really absorbed in the seemingly endless ways water could condense on and cling to thin surfaces. A taste of Samadhi, perhaps?

br />
20130805-215932.jpg
Back home, wiped Rhododendron down with a Shamwow (or the Aldi version thereof). This awesome trip was worth the work, though I really want to take care of dear Rhododendron and not subject it to too much more wet weather.

Wednesday 31 July 2013. Beaded Spider Webs and Cardinal Flower Debut

It was 70 degrees F at 6:30 am, with fog and light drizzle.

Had a ridiculous “argument” with myself about whether to take Rhododendron and get it wet or take the car to Meadowbrook and have a long walk, which I haven’t been doing much with all the bike riding….

Actually decided first to take the car, but then had to go back because I’d left the iPhone on the charger and just could not let all these beautiful photographs go untaken! When I got back just decided to not worry about rust and take the bike after all. Did worry about whether all the wonderful fog would be gone by the time I got my act together to make it to Meadowbrook. Oh, the self-imposed obstacles to peace….

But even with the delays, Meadowbrook was a foggy wonderland! It would have been worth the trip for the water-beaded spider webs alone! Decided to park poor, wet Rhododendron and walk the big loop to maximize observation of the enchanted landscape.

Again wished for a fancy camera; did see a guy stalking the spider webs with a large camera and tripod.

Took lots and lots of spider web photos. Here are a few.

20130805-213143.jpg

20130805-213247.jpg

20130805-213337.jpg

20130805-213423.jpg
Stopped to look at McCullough/Davis creeks from the rabbit bridge and noticed a small but clear bit of red: cardinal flowers!!

20130805-213906.jpg</a Had to go down through at least some of the vegetation to get closer! As I wondered how I would get across the stream to see it, noticed, on my side of the stream, two vigorous plants with tiny red buds! Contented myself with a couple of shots;

20130805-214324.jpg
would be back for more!

In addition to the beaded spider webs were leaves and stems decorated with beads of water.

20130805-214659.jpg

20130805-214827.jpg

Got really absorbed in the seemingly endless ways water could condense on and cling to thin surfaces. A taste of Samadhi, perhaps?

br />
20130805-215932.jpg
Back home, wiped Rhododendron down with a Shamwow (or the Aldi version thereof). This awesome trip was worth the work, though I really want to take care of dear Rhododendron and not subject it to too much more wet weather.