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.

Advertisements

Thursday 14 June 2018. Sunrise on the KRT

It was 61 degrees F and partly cloudy at a little after 5 this morning as I departed for the Kickapoo Rail to Trail bike trail and points east.

At last I made it I made it out before sunrise! At last I had a bike ride! My early hours have be taken lately with other activities, and this was my first time out for days, as well as on the KRT since any native prairie plants had started to bloom.

Oh, the early morning sky!

Saw not one but two foxes, neither of which photographed well enough to bother trying to show the dots to indicate their presence.

Stopped at the edge of Weaver Park, where there were lots of orange butterfly milkweed in bloom

as well as other other early summer flowers I didn’t take time to photograph.

At the beginning of the KRT trail, stopped to view the sunrise!

Was glad to see it after having missed it for so long.

Soon after passing Walmart rode through the little wooded stretch that still was a little dark.

Got into the soothing rhythm of pedaling straight ahead, on and on through the subtly changing landscape. Got a view of the corn with clouds above.

Central Illinois!

Rode as far as Full’s Siding then turned back.

Saw fewer prairie flowers than I expected (no spiderwort to speak of!?). But this feral hollyhock was striking.

Near High Cross Road and the beginning of the trail I turned back to see the sun well clear of the horizon but still low in the spreading clouds

Stopped to get a view of the weedy but stately mullein.

And returned home to take up the rest of the day.

Saturday 9 June 2018. Dodging the Rain

It was 69 degrees F and partly cloudy at 5:45 this morning as I headed for my job assignment in Savoy.

Stopped for a photo of the yellow cabbage roses on Race Street,

which made a beautiful picture, even if the plant appears beset with disease

Alas.

Headed west on Windsor Road, stopping near the Polinatarium to look east and view the sunrise,

one of the joys of being an early riser.

Near Neil Street, at the sign for the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration, stopped to catch the very first tiny blooms of the lead plant.

Arrived at work in plenty of time and, as always, enjoyed my shift.

But about half an hour before it was time to go, the sky opened up and the rain that I was convinced would wait till I got home arrived in abundance. And continued to fall past my clock-out time.

So I sat in the lobby of my workplace and watched the rain outside, checking the radar on my phone periodically.

After twenty minutes or so, decided to venture out into the now very light rain, at least to the Starbuck’s on South Neil. It seemed to be clearing up some as I rode and considered makings break for home, but then there was a clap of thunder, and so reverted to the Starbuck’s plan. About half a block away the rain fell more heavily, and I got fairly wet.

As soon as I walked in the barista said the hand dryer in the bathroom might help. I accepted the invitation, and in fact, it helped a lot!

Then I hung out and had a spinach feta egg wrap and coffee and worked on an older blog post.

Soon the rain subsided, and after a pleasant time of writing headed back homeward, passing on the way this little “waterfall,”

Rode homeward on St. Mary’s Road and stopped to see a horse near a recent puddle.

Then stopped briefly at the prairie planting on Florida and Orchard and saw one of the many handsome pairs of milkweed beetles.

and proceeded, dry-shod (and dry-clothed), toward home.

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

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.

Wednesday 9 May 2018. A Decent Ride, with Shooting Stars

At 5:40 this morning, the temperature about 58 degrees F, the skies mostly cloudy and a moderate wind from the south-southeast, I headed toward Meadowbrook Park, hoping to find shooting stars (flowers, that is).

A swim would have been nice, too, but didn’t want to miss seeing the first showy flowers (if you don’t count the golden Alexanders), the shooting stars.

Stopped on the way to check for mushrooms under the stand of spruce trees,

but there were none.

At Meadowbrook saw the sunrise over the confluence of McCullough and Douglas creeks.

Then a little down the path saw the sunrise through the young walnut leaves

A little way down saw at least two of what I’m pretty sure were eastern kingbirds . But got no photos.

Walked Rhododendron on the unpaved prairie path and saw golden Alexanders and blackberries breaking bud.

And then, in the place I’ve seen them for ten years, at least, there they were in all their glory: shooting stars!

They beg to be photographed!

Walked down the path a little way and looked to the right (north). Almost missed the pink shooting stars; they were rather low to the ground.

Saw one plant and at first and thought that was all there were. But then more seemed to materialize.

Trump or no, a world with shooting stars can’t be all bad.

Retuned to the paved path and stopped to get a view from the prairie overlook.

It’s getting green, but so far no floral display.

But already the tree swallows had returned to the nearby bird house,

a comforting recurrence.

Checked the lead plants near the overlook ,

the buds of their compound leaves were just starting to swell and reveal their structure.

Then rode on through Meadowbrook, east on Windsor and south on Philo. Saw an indigo bunting to the west side of the road, but was not fast enough for a photo.

The ride toward Old Church Road was effort-full: uphill and into the south wind!

But at Old Church turned west,

and the ride got easier.

Stopped at the Barnhart Prairie Restoration

and was glad to see the bike rack, though couldn’t imagine being far enough from you bike there to worry about locking it.

Then a dark shape swooped in front of me:

It was a turkey vulture, riding the wind.

And then headed home.