Wednesday 21 June 2017. Sunrise on the Solstice at Meadowbrook

It was 64 degrees F at 5:15 this morning of the first day of summer and the longest day of the year!

Was thrilled (and amazed) to have gotten myself going early enough to be heading to Meadowbrook Park on Rhododendron ahead of the phone weather ap’s promised 5:23 sunrise.

Did as little as possible (alas, no Pranayama!) to get out to witness the Solstice sunrise at Meadowbrook.

Sped to the park and caught the sun at the rabbit-statue bridge.


Over the bridge and around the corner looked to the north out into the prairie and saw a thin layer of mist on the ground, which enhanced the atmosphere of the sunrise.


Tried not to tarry on the path but noted spiderwort, the occasional lingering Penstemon bloom, black-eyed Susans, false sunflowers, lots of purple coneflowers in early bloom, and emerging Baptisia, with its stately white spikes of blooms that play tag-team with the Penstemon’s white flower spikes.

Got another view of the sunrise over the little bridge across Davis Creek


and a sunrise view of a handsome Baptisia spike.


But the flowers in which I was most interested on this solstice ride were the lead plant at the Freyfogle overlook.


Which, against the slings and arrows of insect attack,


were well into their micro-gaudy deep blue-violet and orange bloom.


On the bird house to the north of the overlook were perched unmoving tree swallows, and in front of them (not pictured, alas, you have to trust me), a bright yellow and back goldfinch,


that amazing stimulator of human endorphins. (At least for some humans. If you’re reading this you probably are one–try focusing on a goldfinch for a moment next time you get a chance and see what happens.)

Felt like I stood firmly and with joyful awareness on the summit of the year. Hooray! Let the summer begin!


Sunday 21 June 2015. Summer Solstice, with Clouds

This morning of the longest day of the year (and Fathers’ Day) it was 70 degrees F and, surprise, surprise, cloudy at 6:00. Wonder if I would have had better success at being up and, (this was the hard part) out the door for the precious extra daylight of this time of year if the sun had been visible on the horizon. Even with the delay caused by the clouds it just was hard to attain escape velocity any sooner than at the habitual time. Which still is early enough to enjoy the light and open space of a morning bike ride.  So enjoy, already.

The iPhone weather ap said there was a 100 percent chance of storms at 6 am, which threw a wrench in my plans to put on some miles this morning. Oh, the uncertainty! So settled for staying close and focusing on the flowers just coming into bloom at the Florida and Orchard prairie garden and on a quick trip to check on the lead plants at the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration on Windsor Road near Neil Street.

Planned to take Rhododendron, but found that, incredibly, the front tire was soft!?! Thought I’d solved the problem of the previous repeat flat (glass embedded in the tire, which I removed, for crying out loud!). It wasn’t flat, but neither was I going to just fill it up and ride. Time for a visit to the bike shop.

So off on Discovery II I went, stopping for a shot of the new apples on “my” tree.

At the Florida Avenue prairie garden, the dominant color was green, followed by the yellow of black-eyed Susans and false sunflowers.

Less than exciting, after the drama of the abundant spiderwort and Penstemon, of which there still was a little.

On closer inspection, there were Monarda,

swamp milkweed

(as well as common milkweed and butterfly milkweed, not pictured), vervain,


and milkvetch

as well as hordes of mosquitoes. The speed with which I was covered with itching bites made me marvel at the methods to which creatures resort to sustain themselves and how absurd the concept of theft is to them. Made me consider that the mosquito is as unconscious of the suffering it causes me as I am, most of the time, of the suffering caused by e.g., my purchase of goods, e.g., perhaps this nifty iPhone, made by underpaid workers. Of course, the mosquito is not equipped with the means of consciousness that I am. Funny how the long chain of steps between me and suffering can muffle that consciousness.  

So didn’t stay long, even though the diversity of flowers was tempting.

Rode on down Florida Avenue and turned south on Fourth Street, which only recently had been continued to Windsor Road. It was quite a lovely road that swayed pleasantly and, I’m sure, intentionally back and forth on its way to Windsor.

Then turned west on Windsor and was delighted to see the lead plants in mid-bloom around the sign for the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration.

Was glad the photos I’d just cleared (out of phone space!) let me take a few shots.

especially the one showing several clusters of spikes.

Was glad after several years of missing the bloom here I finally caught it!

And maybe next year I’ll be out for the solstice-time sunrises.