Sunday 23 April 2017. Brownfield Woods with Woodland Phlox, and Sighting the Fox

It was 38 degrees F under clear skies at 6:05 am, the sun about to come up. Rolled Shadow out of the garage to head east and north, per the wind direction. Have learned my lesson that even a reportedly small wind velocity can make a difference when it’s blowing straight at you. Also, had been wanting to visit Brownfield Woods (to the east and north) to see the bloom of the Dutchman’s britches but never managed that. Now it was time for woodland Phlox and didn’t want to
miss that, too.

Headed out Main Street, past the little grove of burr oaks.

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Noticed a good-sized reddish, furry creature lounging under the oak trees that didn’t seem especially perturbed by my presence. It seemed to be the Sunday morning fox right around where I’d seen it on several Sundays in the past, as if waiting for my visit. Marveled at the “bushiness” of what appeared to be its tail. The only feature I wasn’t sure about was its face, which could have been a cat’s. A very large cat’s. After I took several pictures and so had been staring at it for a while, it got up and ambled back away from the street and toward a line of trees and the sound of a multi-breed chorus of barking dogs.

Rode on Main Street until it ended at University Avenue, crossed University and rode through the Beringer subdivision. Checked the ponds but saw no ducks.

Crossing the I-74 bridge was very glad to be wearing the felted mittens I’d just finished making

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Saw not one but two dead possums along the road that paved the bridge. No pics of that for the blog. Remembered the possum remains I used to observe (described in older posts) at the north side of the bridge that had taken years to decompose and be grown over. Didn’t plan to follow these the same way but made a note to look next time I come this way.

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Was happy to reach Olympian Drive and turn back.

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It was kind of disappointing to look back and notice how I’ve been taking fewer and shorter rides than I used to. But no use not enjoying where I was then! And where I am now, reflecting on it.

On the way back –tailwind!–stopped for shots of woodland Phlox.

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This seemed to be a good year for them,

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and today appeared to be the peak of the bloom.

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Oh, lovely stars of blue! Was especially glad to have caught this bloom because of having missed the Dutchman’s breeches.

Butterweed, which bursts yellow in seemingly random patches of sometimes great abundance in farm fields and near streams

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provided a striking yellow contrast.

Saw the fox (was convinced for a while that it was a cat but the ears decided the ID) again on the way back.

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Thursday 12 May 2016. On the Way to and from the Edge of Trelease and of Brownfield Woods and in Between

At about 6 this morning it was 62 degrees F and mostly cloudy.

Set off on Rhododendron for east Washington Street. Noticed that the tree leaves, increasingly of “business green” were closing into a canopy over stretches of Washington.

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Thought I would go at east as far east as Cottonwood Road, and then decide how far north to go.

Noticed where Washington Street opened into the countryside that along the south side of the road, on the edge of the field (the one that’s for sale) full of butterweed there was what looked like wheat (winter wheat, apparently, already in seed) growing alongside the road.

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Then, not far along in a flooded corner of the field, saw three or four shorebirds wading.

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I think they were two different species: pretty sure one was a killdeer, and the other some kind of sandpiper I’d seen before. But they were too far away to ID with any certainty.

Turned north on Cottonwood, that very quiet country road. Proceeded north over the I-74 bridge, where a fair amount of traffic passed beneath me. Rode to Trelease woods, and noticed quite a few woodland Phlox plants with several flowers each.

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Made me think that last week there would have been an incredible mass of blue woodland Phlox flowers here.

A little way down was a lovely mass of delicate pink wild geranium flowers.

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Rode north on Cottonwood to Oaks Road, at the southwest corner of which intersection was a puddle and the sound of frogs.

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At first when I stopped, the sound paused, but after I stood quietly for a while, it resumed, and actually got quite loud. Oddly, I could not actually see a single frog, close as I was. Their cammo was doing its job.

At High Cross Road turned south, stopping on the edge of Brownfield Woods,

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where there were more woodland Phlox.

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Also in bloom was Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum),

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the flowers of which are not especially eye-catching (just my opinion) from a distance but lovely when viewed up close.

On the way back felt some wind resistance and actually felt more tired than usual at this point on the trip. It wasn’t largely distracting from the enjoyment, but did wonder about my plans for increasing mileage through the summer. No doubt the coming (?) warmer temperatures will help.

Was glad to get back and glad for having gone out.

Sunday 24 April 2016. Fog and Phlox

It was 46 degrees F this morning at 6:15, the sky thinly cloudy and scattered fog spread close to the ground.

Had rather a slow start, the sun already risen, though the clouds and fog completely obscured its shape and exact position.

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Was not completely enthusiastic about the trip, even though a momentary contemplation of not doing it felt absurd (during 30 Days of Biking, no less!?!). Could not decide which direction to ride, and then just found myself going north. Direction established, felt at least a degree of calm, of serenity.

At the long-under-construction but inconspicuous crossing of Broadway over the Boneyard Creek was a curious pile of metal, etc., including erstwhile bikes.

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Rode on past Crystal Lake Park and the country fairgrounds to Bradley Avenue and north on Lincoln. At this point noticed my early hesitations were fading, and the ride clearly was becoming more enjoyable. It was good to be pedaling on relatively quiet (but not deserted) Lincoln Avenue on a Sunday morning.

Stopped at the water-filled pit on the east side of Lincoln, north of I-74,

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Wound around “new” north Lincoln and followed the urge to turn east on Oaks Road,

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and then north on Willow, which passed the marked Centennial (as of 1966) farm

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Turned east on Ford Harris Road and rode to High Cross, then south. Saw large vehicles in a field that made me worry about development of the open spaces out here.

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Closer inspection suggested that the project was drainage. Might be for agricultural purposes, but maybe it’s the first step to building on the land. Alas.

Proceeded to the edge of Brownfield Woods

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(note the 30 Days of Biking spoke card).
Was happy to see the Trillium

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and especially the woodland Phlox

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some of which mingled with stinging nettle.

And of course it was lovely to see them along the stream that goes through and along Brownfield,

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Felt like it was a good trip, though all told wasn’t quite 15 miles. It’s getting to be time to wake up with the sun and stretch the distance. Definitely broke through the fog, inside and out! Nothing to do once again but be grateful.

Tuesday 28 April (Day 28 of 30 Days of Biking) 2015. First Shooting Stars

It was 57 degrees F and mostly sunny at 12:30 this afternoon when I took Discovery II out for a ride to Meadowbrook Park to see whether the shooting stars (Dodecatheon meadia, prairie flowers) had yet made their appearance.

Rode south in Race Street, succumbing again to the urge to photograph “my” (because I like it) apple tree. The last, really attenuated, shriveled apple was still there, but the real attraction was the incredible bloom.

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And, happily, the blossoms were abuzz with bees. Very likely there will be apples this year!

The flowering trees along Race Street were full of blooms and the tree leaves were still small and light green–loved the prolongation of early spring that the cooler temperatures provided.

At Meadowbrook got off of Discovery II near the garden plots to walk toward the soft path through the prairie. Stopped at the little wooden bridge to get a view of McCullough Creek, with the little waterfall over the fallen tree.

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Then walked in to the middle of the prairie, which still was dominated by last year’s flattened, bleached plant remains, with green shoots and small leaves just starting to be evident among them.

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Was not sure the shooting stars would be up yet. For sure their bloom was not past!

Spotted some leaves on the left (north, more or less) side of the path that could have been shooting stars, and sure enough, they were.

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But it looked like some creature had eaten their tops–the first prairie plants must make good eating for winter-hungry animals.

Nearby, though, were more plants, with whole leaves and buds, and then also an open flower!

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Looked to the left and right as I proceeded along the path to check for plants in other places and found some on the left, between the first patch and one on the right I’d seen for several years. The first one was pinkish, this last was white.

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I apologize for the blurry photo, but it seems like I always have had trouble getting shooting stars clearly focused. still, it was a happy event to see them.

Back on the paved path, took a turn into the short loop and on to the the Richardson wildflower walk, where the woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) were just starting to bloom.

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The phlox with their gorgeous blue asterisks of flowers were as pleasant to see as the shooting stars, though they are much more common and don’t provoke quite as much anticipation and detailed following of their distribution and development.

Another spring woodland flower I found in bloom a little way down the path was Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans), the blooms of which also were a beguiling blue.

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Noticed two plants of them, fewer than there were last year and many fewer than in years previous. Repeated observation of nature makes one aware of change and loss (ask any botanist!), of how it never is quite the same from one year to the next. Like all of life, one can never take the scene for granted or expect to see it again but only appreciate what is here now.

On the way home stopped to take in the glory of crab and apple trees, fully loaded with fresh blooms, against the blue sky.

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They were in shades of pink and also white.

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Knew they would not last long, but was grateful to be awake for the beautiful, eternal moment.

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Saturday 10 May 2014. Woods and Open Country on High Cross Road.

This morning at 6:40 it was 54 degrees F under partly cloudy skies, the air mostly calm.

It was lovely to be out in the quiet morning with the sun coming up!

Today’s destination was High Cross and Ford Harris roads, by way of Main Street.

Saw a solo mallard drake in the ditch in front of the little oak grove across Main from the Dart plant.

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Farther along, on High Cross Road, stopped to check the possum bones on the northeast corner of the bridge over I-74. Knew they probably were not much different than the last time I was there, but couldn’t resist getting an update photo.

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Saw a deer shoot out from a thicket at high speed to the open field on the other side of High Cross. Hoped there weren’t lots of others, and there were not, except for one.

At the edge of Brownfield Woods were generously scattered blue woodland Phlox, fresh and just before the peak of their bloom. Phlox are the kind of flowers of which one feels compelled to take lots of photos: they are lovely, and it’s hard to capture their beauty.

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Noticed that they grew among stinging nettle and poison ivy an was careful not to hunker down too freely with them.

Also saw some pawpaw flowers on the other side of the barbed wire fence around Brownfield.

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In the way back, especially, noticed and enjoyed the subtle rolling of the spring Illinois fields, most still black or covered with last year’s stubble; a few with tiny corn plants emerging. The clouds near the horizon prolonged the drama of the sunrise over them.

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Liked how stretches of uphill and downhill alternated pretty evenly. I think High Cross is one of my favorite local bike routes.