Fresh cooling breeze from the north
Red-tailed hawks in a bare tree
Lilies orange and creamy-white
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After ten long days of intense heat - the final four of which were over 100º, with brutally high humidity - the weather has moderated at last. Whew! (We were about ready to cave in and buy a window air conditioner.)
I was so happy to see the thermometer reading this morning, I had to take a photo:
|Forty degrees cooler than Friday. Woo hoo!|
Despite the mild weather, I remember my resolution of last week and make an effort to start earlier than usual. By the time I set out to ride, it's a balmy 75º, with light clouds trailing across a relieved blue sky, and a pleasant wind bringing refreshment from the north.
Turk's cap lilies, exotic and vividly orange, are growing along a marsh just outside town:
An elderly lady rides slowly by and sees me taking photos. She smiles and says, "Beautiful, aren't they?" "Gorgeous!" I reply. Her husband follows on his own bicycle, with a small white dog in the handlebar basket. I wish I could take his photo, but don't like to ask.
Around a corner and down a bit, wild phlox star the ground under the roadside trees:
Tall bushes line this section of road. Some of their leaves have already turned yellow, and tell a tale of heat and drought and stress.
I'm thrilled to strike a patch of wild chicory, one of my favourite wildflowers. I love the delicate lavender-blue blossoms...
...and so, apparently, does this bee. (I feel as though I'm witnessing a private moment here - he's so very involved with this blossom.)
Look at the beautiful blue-and-white stamens. An altogether lovely flower.
Some miles on, I pass an old barn snuggled under a woody hillside...
...then a field of corn which is drying out due to lack of rain.
Shadow shot! The clouds are thinning, and the air is warming up.
I ride down a long parti-coloured road.
This barn could use a lick of paint, but I like it anyway:
A cat's cradle of power and phone lines:
Another appealing barn - also in need of paint. The soybeans in this field seem to be doing pretty well - no curling or other signs of stress.
A shoal of little clouds floats overhead.
I pass a section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail - a thousand-mile footpath that winds through Wisconsin and highlights the path of ancient glaciers through the state.
Two red-tailed hawks perch in a tall bare tree. I wonder if they're mates.
|Oy! Mate! See any fieldmice down there?|
And here's another barn in need of paint. (I sense a theme developing.)
I pass a grand driveway entrance, rather ranch-y in style. All it needs is a sign. ("Lazy W" would work well, I think.)
Somewhere about the halfway point of my ride, the road crosses over a lazy brown river. It seems a good time to take a break, so I park Iris against the bridge railing and wander down the riverbank for a photo of the bridge.
A bit further down, a large clump of cheerful heliopsis grows at the foot of an old fence section.
This stand of trees seems to be a popular neighbourhood for some form of nest-building bird or beast:
A pair of sandhill cranes stands just off the road, cooling their toes in the marsh. Full of Sunday relaxation, they let me take several photos.
I pass an old abandoned mill. The wheel was still in place until just a few years ago, but after a tragic drowning there it was removed.
Water still splashes through the millrace:
For many miles the road has been gradually descending, but what goes down must come up. I climb a long winding grade that offers at its peak a good view of the valley I've left behind.
Another climb, and a pause for a drink of water. Just next to the road is this fascinating, rather Alpine-looking wildflower:
Just up the road, wagons of hay bales shine brightly golden in the sunlight, making me think of Rumpelstiltskin. (Surely one could spin gold from these?)
The sun is growing ever hotter, and I'm beginning to look forward to being home. About 10 miles to go now.
A picturesque tree stands at the division of two fields:
Here's the expensive secret to a lush cornfield: irrigation.
This piece of equipment makes me think of a duck (or possibly a brontosaurus):
At last I reach the edge of town, and pull in to the boat landing at the local lake. The water looks incredibly cool and refreshing. Boats and jet-skis cross and re-cross my field of vision.
It's a good day for waterskiing...
...and for water lilies. This end of the lake has lilies...
...upon lilies. Thousands of them, shining creamy-white in the sun.
Monet would have loved it.
Only a mile and a half to go. I get back in the saddle and back on the road. One last shot of the lake, with Queen Anne's Lace in the foreground, rushes and the snowy host of water lilies behind, and a blue Wisconsin sky over all...
...then home, to a welcome shower and an even more welcome meal.
31.2 miles, and a very good ride indeed.
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