Sunday 1 July 2018. Sunrise, a Ride East on Old Church, and Lots of Compass Plants at Meadowbrook

It was 73 degrees F under partly cloudy skies at 5:15 this morning as I headed south on Race Street on Rhododendron.

Wanted to, and did, catch the early summer sunrise!

Wondered about everything that was blooming at Meadowbrook but first headed to Old Church and East toward Yankee Ridge.

The corn was almost supernatural looking with its ears and tassels on this first day of July!

Stopped to see spiderwort along the Barnhart Prairie Restoration.

A spike of Desmodium (tick trefoil) rose above the purple and yellow coneflowers

Culver’s root blooms were sent off by the erect spade-shapes of prairie dock leaves.

Then continued east and got a view from the “summit ”

of the Yankee Ridge moraine. Almost as beautiful as looking out over the ocean. Perhaps.

Rode in to Meadowbrook as far as the garden plots and then dismounted and walked Rhododendron toward the Art and Billie Spomer prairie.

McCullough Creek was full and “babbling” under the little wooden bridge.

The path into the prairie was flanked by lush vegetation.

In the path of the rising sun were many dewy tall compass plants,

heralding the splendor of the emerging summer prairie bloom. (My, those compass plants were abundant!) So much to see, on another day.

I’ve gotten out of the routine of longish bike rides so was feeling some fatigue. So it goes.

Still, was extra glad to have been out communing with the landscape.

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Sunday 24 June 2018. All the Way to St. Joe on the KRT

It was 64 degrees F under clearing skies at 6:20 this morning as I rolled Rhododendron down the driveway to head to St, Joseph on the Kickapoo Rail to Trail. The weather ap indicated fog, but by the time I got rolling it had pretty much cleared, leaving dew drops on the vegetation and spiderwebs.

Rode east on Main Street and stopped at Weaver Park to catch the bloom there:

Saw lots of lavender-pink Monarda,

some yellow

and purple coneflowers,

horse nettle,

and the stately foliage of cup plants.

Along Weaver Park saw branches of elm; survivors of the mid-century devastation?

Rode straight eastward out on the trail, feeling the rhythm of the rotating pedals.

Here at some things I saw but wasn’t able to photograph:

Singing dickcissels

Swooping goldfinches

A thirteen-lined ground squirrel (!?!)

Two black butterflies

Two monarch butterflies

One or two groundhogs

Noticed that the black-eyed Susans looked pristine and free of disease,

which may be why I didn’t pass them by as I often do and stoped to get a photograph of one.

The soapwort were abundant and lovely, not native, but fresh and of just the shade of pink my sister Vickie would have loved,

some accented with the foliage of prairie dock and common ragweed (which are native.)

Sumac on the south side of the trail made a handsome border for this bean field in the morning light.

There were mullein (not native) with beautiful, fuzzy, dewey foliage.

Saw a flower that might be another exotic but it caught my eye.

[Later looked through my handy Wildflowers and Weeds book and came up with moth mullein (Verbascum blatteria).]

At Full’s Siding stopped to check out the clever book- exchange.

Have to remember to bring something next time.

Saw post-fog dew-beaded spiderwebs among the (non-native) chicory.

Crossed the Salt Fork on the lovely wood-surfaced, metal-sided bridge.

Stopped for a view of the St Joe Post Office.

and of a coffee shop I need to come back to try.

On the way back stopped for the scene- punctuating red hollyhock.

And for more beautiful pink soapwort.

Spiderwort (native!) was abundant but couldn’t get close to it without getting down into the vegetation.

Headed back home after another soul-filling passage (and ready for the next one) on the KRT!

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.

Saturday 2 June 2018. Notes on This Beautifully Cool Morning’s Commute

It was 55 degrees F (!) and mostly clear at 5:33 this morning.

Decided I had time to stop at Meadowbrook Park on the way to my job assignment in Savoy.

Without stopping at the rabbit-statue bridge, crossed over McCullough Creek, turned the corner, and got a look at the sunrise.

Then took the “Texas exit” (across grass) back to Race Street.

Saw a deer rather close to the road

apparently not perturbed by my staring at it for a photo.

A little farther down Race Street smelled strong skunk odor.

Then the landscape opened out,

which is always a thrill (and this photo does it no justice!), especially around sunrise!

Rode west on Curtis Road to Prospect. Had a little time to see the sunken pond there, with Coreopsis

an early yellow coneflower,

and plenty of Penstemon.

After work, on the way back, stopped at the prairie planting on Florida and Orchard, above which appeared an indigo bunting!

(the bluish blip a little below and to the right of center).

In the “prairie-let” were the requisite-for- early-June spiderwort and Penstemon,

the Penstemon, again, in full (probably brief) bloom. The false sunflowers were beginning to bloom;

more than one bearing a nicely contrasting box elder ( I think) bug.

More riding would be better, but every moment outside on the bike is good

Friday 1 June 2018. To Work with a Stop at Meadowbrook, and Back

It was 67 degrees F and partly cloudy at 5:43 this morning as I rolled Rhododendron down the driveway on the way to my job assignment in Savoy.

Thought about how fast the mid-to-late spring garden flowers (like peonies, irises, and poppies) had come and gone. Now the summer flowers were beginning.

Wanted to stop on the way at Meadowbrook Park to check on the the spiderwort and Penstemon before the hot weather finished them off, and also wanted to get back to my poor neglected blog, even if time constraints prevented long, leisurely rides or descriptions thereof.

After reaching Windsor Road turned east to view the nearest corner of the prairie.

Indeed, there were spiderwort

and Penstemon.

These latter looked like most of their buds had opened in unison.

Rode west on Windsor Road and stopped at the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration to check the progress of the lead plants. Their incipient inflorescences were well into development.

Then had another enjoyable 3-hour day at my job and made my way (stopping on the way back at FM Avionics for fine coffee, fine granola, and a fine lavender-glazed donut) and then back home.

Wednesday 23 May 2018. Early Spiderwort and Earliest Penstemon at Meadowbrook

This morning at 5:20 it was 58 degrees F under mostly clear skies as I rolled Rhododendron down the driveway, destination: Meadowbrook Park. Wore my feather-light cycling jacket, that, with a bit of positive attitude based on the conviction that it would soon get warmer, kept me comfortable enough.

Was delighted to be rolling south on Race Street before sunrise, in the quiet, calm, pristine morning, all the more because the opportunity to do so has become rarer that in the past. Marveled at how pleasant it was to be riding in comfortable temperatures with good light.

Stopped a little way down Race Street at the stand of spruce trees to check for mushrooms, but there was no sign of them. This utter (visual at least, they certainly are there in some form, underground) absence is part of their mystique, part of the wonder of when, suddenly and abundantly, they do appear.

Crossed Windsor Road at my now-favorite, very responsive, traffic signal.

Rode straight to the rabbit-statue bridge, over which I coasted at high speed and had to (chose to, anyway) apply the brakes at the turn.

On the other side of the bridge saw a low blanket of fog resting over the landscape.

Then turned back to get a view of Douglas and McCullough creeks, with the sun coming up behind them.

Then back over the bridge and down the path where there were more good views of the sun rising over the misty prairie.

Looked in the wet area a little way down the path for blue flag iris, in early bud last week. There they were, well into their bloom,

a few close to the path, and the large patch farther away.

Noticed that the area had been “managed” to allow reasonably easy passage from the path. Still, the ground was wet and was glad I’d worn closed shoes and Smart Wool socks.

Thought as I proceeded along that there still were no spiderwort to speak of, but just then, there they were.

And to the left of this one was a Penstemon in bud.

It was the opening of the grand procession of the prairie bloom, and what a privilege it was to be there to witness it!

Rode on past lots of spiderwort, some receding golden Alexanders, and plenty though less dramatic blackberry blooms

on the way toward the prairie viewing station. Stopped for a moment to listen to the song sparrows and to the red-winged blackbirds, which today seemed to say, “talk with me!”

Just about every patch of spiderwort beckoned to have its picture taken, but I resisted many of them.

Was going to look over the prairie from the viewing station but saw what looked like an occupied sleeping bag and opted to pass today. Didn’t really sense danger about it, but you never know, and anyway didn’t want to disturb the person. Did stay close enough to get a photo of the lead plant,

which seem to be spreading.

Watched one of the many red-winged blackbirds

a little while before moving on.

Had thought about riding on at least to Yankee Ridge, but still wanted to time to swim and was very satisfied with what this short ride had revealed. So headed back homeward along Windsor Road. At almost the farthest corner of the park saw Penstemon starting to bloom!

And now to follow their progress.

Wednesday 16 May 2018. The Last Shooting Stars and First Spiderwort at Meadowbrook

It was 57 degrees F under mostly clear skies this morning at 5:35 when I brought out Rhododendron for a ride to Meadowbrook Park.

It was wonderful to be heading out so early to Meadowbrook. Lately I’ve been biking to my work assignment in Savoy, and that has been lovey, but haven’t felt like there has been enough time to linger over the landscape or stop for photos.

So was happy to be heading south on Race Street for the purpose of observing.

Stopped to see a planting of peonies just starting to bloom.

I love the varieties that this gardener chose.

Made another stop at the grove of spruce trees where Amanita muscaria mushrooms have burgeoned in the past several years.

They’ve seemed to occur mostly in the fall, but I’ve also seen them here in the spring. No mushrooms were visible today, however.

Noticed that the growth tips of the spruces were in a variety of stages of development; wondered whether that meant anything about the health of the trees.

At Meadowbrook was about to take my customary counter-clockwise loop around the park but saw a man having an interaction with a large dog and decided not to distract them, reversing the direction of my trip.

There were plenty of golden Alexanders and some wild geraniums blooming, but so far the prairie was mostly green.

Rode along McCullough Creek and heard high-pitched frog-song, eerie and beautiful.

stopped to listen a while.

Saw ducks below the Vine St. bridge

and deer crossing the path into the prairie,

Saw a mourning dove and tree swallow on the prairie viewing station.

Checked out the progress of the nearby lead plants,the leaves of which were beginning to emerge and take shape. Turned onto the unpaved path to check on the shooting stars. It took some searching to find these last blooms. Their seeds looked to be well along in development. Walked along the path a little way searching for the pink shooting stars, on the way seeing tree swallows interacting then spotting my first of this spring’s spiderwort. Caught a view of a well-defined shoot of compass plantand finally found a couple lingering pink shooting stars.

On the way back saw a shrub with goldfinches–the yellow birds of happiness!

It was a joy to be among them under the sky, among the tree swallows, the deer and frogs and red-winged blackbirds. The joy was noticeably therapeutic; could feel the weight of various difficulties lift a bit. Was again amazed by and grateful for the medicine!

Then looped back toward the rabbit-statue bridge. where the walnuts seemed to be doing fine, but lots of other trees, for whatever reason were not. Alas. Rode to the end of Meadowbrook through the grove of haws and crabs.

And then back homeward and off to the pool for a swim.