Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Two Rides

I have so many blog posts bouncing around in my head - crochet posts mostly, but others too - yet somehow they're just not getting written, or finished. This is partly due to time constraints, and partly to a tedious habit of perfectionism that can sometimes almost paralyze my creative output.

But here's something I can write about without having to think too hard....

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Though still summer by the calendar, the thermometer says it's fall. Nights have been cool - some very cool indeed, in the upper 30s. We've yielded to the inevitable: put on socks and long pants, rooted out the jackets and scarves, and added blankets to the bed.

Daytime temps are still moderate (for the most part), allowing me to ride in shorts and jersey. The air continues clear and lovely, with the bright blue skies peculiar to autumn.

A week ago Monday: a morning ride, and a favourite barn.

Around the next corner, wild sunflowers are thick on the verge. Have you ever seen anything so cheerful?

A mile or two later, I am on the lookout for some pale blue asters, which always bloom first on this particular stretch of roadside. And here they are, right on schedule:

They're quite small, and delicately lovely:

More miles, then up, up, up a hill, across the top, and ready to descend the other side, into a favourite valley:

And that's all the photos for this particular ride.

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Sunday, late afternoon, Tallulah and I hit the road. A strong cool wind is blowing, but the sun is still warm enough for shorts and bare legs. I will make vitamin D while I can....

"I hope you realise," remarks Tallulah, "that I'm breaking the wind for you."

"Thank you, Tallulah," I gravely reply. "I do appreciate it. And I think perhaps 'blocking the wind' would better express your selfless action."


A favourite bend in the road:

Shadow shot!

Riding at this time of year has a sort of valedictory feel. Nature is winding down, bringing a sense that colder weather is coming, that the cycling days are limited. Between last Monday's ride and today's, there's a marked difference in the number and appearance of wildflowers. Cool nighttime temps have killed off many varieties; even the ubiquitous goldenrod has suffered. I feel the urge to photograph all the flowers I can, while I still can.

Thus it is that I stop in the middle of a steepish climb to shoot some mysterious white blossoms growing in a shady spot well away from the verge. I've seen them here for a few weeks now, but have been reluctant to pause for a photo due to the aformentioned steepness of the hill. Today I figure I'd better shoot while the shooting's good - who knows when the frost may come?

The wildflower book identifies them as White Snakeroot. A member of the aster family, this plant contains a toxic chemical that can cause a sickness in cows, which can then be passed on through their milk to humans. (Apparently this sickness has is no longer a concern, thanks to modern feed and processing capabilities.)

At the top of the hill is a tempting stretch of wildflowers that have escaped the chill breath of pre-autumn, including thistles still vibrant with colour...

...and one or two perfect red clover blossoms. I'm very fond of red clover, a humble wayside flower that has an exotic beauty when viewed up close:

A lone Salsify, gone to seed, shows lovely delicate bones:

This Queen Anne's Lace has already curled up for the long winter's nap:

It's not just flowers that survive on this sunny hilltop: skeeters are busy stinging through my shorts (little buggers) while I dally amongst the blossoms. So it's back on the bike and down the hill, so fast the skeeters can't follow. We fly across the valley and up another hill, then turn onto the high prairie, where clouds march in formation across a September sky while drying corn stands to attention below:

Soon we turn another corner and head back down to the lowlands, through stretches of wood where the shade is cold, making me long for home and warmth. I'm working out a crochet problem in my head as I go, and the miles fly by. Roast chicken and potatoes for dinner tonight....

A good ride.

Two good rides, in fact. :)

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