Monday, September 9, 2013

Cloudy Ride

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Glimpse of a shady forbidden wood
Asters like pale lavender stars
Soybeans turning from green to gold

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After a brief brush with Autumn, the weather has gone back to feeling quite summery. But the angle of the sun, and the early changing of leaves here and there, remain to remind us that the warmth is temporary.

Sunday is cloudy and damp, about 70┬║, with a mild east wind of 9-10 mph. If there's a cycling equivalent to dragging one's feet, it's what I am doing today. A bursitis flareup, achy muscles, and horrible allergies have sapped my enthusiasm for exercise of any sort. Today's ride is undertaken in the spirit of "I don't want to do it, so it must be good for me." :)

A tree at the edge of town  - bigtooth aspen? - is also feeling stressed. Its leaves have all turned brown round the edge:


(I remember this tree doing the same last year.)

Tall shrubs on this road are dotted with red and black berries. A Google search reveals them to be Buckthorn:


As with many flowers and shrubs that particularly catch the eye, Buckthorn is considered an invasive species.

A few miles on, the road is fringed with lovely dried grasses that bend and sway in the breeze (especially when I'm trying to snap their photo). I think they may be wild oat:


Cheery clumps of asters have popped up all over. These have blossoms about an inch wide:


Goldenrod usually grows in a jostling crowd, but I pass a few snobbish plants (with particularly impressive blossom heads) standing on their own. Here's the biggest of them:


On the next plant but one, a bee crawls very slowly over the tiny flowers. He doesn't seem to mind the camera poised an inch away; is he drugged with the scent? (Actually I'm not sure goldenrod has a scent.) Or maybe he's tired from a long week of pollen-collecting.


Creeper on a wire gate:


Sheep barn - but where are the sheep? (Inside taking a Sunday nap, one presumes.)


Just up the road from the sheep barn is our egg supplier's house, where live the pedigreed pigs destined for gustatory fame on the tables of Madison's finest restaurants.


There are five of them in the barnyard, and when I stop to take their photo, they all crowd up to the fence, as close to me as they can get, and stand quietly looking at me. (Perhaps they expect a treat, but all I have for them is kind words.)


Adieu to the piggies and on up the road, past a favourite oak:


Then a sudden stop, for I spy tiny apples growing at the edge of a thick wood:


Adorable apples, about 1-1/2" in size, with a rosy blush on their cheeks. I thought I knew all the wild apple trees hereabouts, but this one I have never noticed until now.

More surprises on this road: what I always thought was honeysuckle turns out (after more Googling) to be grey dogwood. Just now it is loaded with miniscule white berries on coral-like red stems:


The orange berries on the left have me completely stumped. An evening spent combing the internet yields no matches (Pyracantha seems closest, but the fruit looks wrong). Any botanists out there who can help?

Climbing towards the high prairie, looking back on cornfields under heavy grey skies:


And one last shot of a soybean field, caught in the act of turning gold:


A damp cloudy ride, but I'm glad I took it. A few months from now we'll be snow- and ice-bound, and then I'll be pining for the open road. I should enjoy it while I can, right? :)

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28 comments:

  1. I love your bike ride nature posts so much. I feel my pulse slow as I relax and read the beautiful words and look at the gorgeous photos. You should be free on the NHS!

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    1. Thanks Joann - what a very sweet comment. :)

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  2. Hello Sue!

    Now, I've never heard of a snobbish plant before but I'm chuckling now. It's a great image.

    I completely understand your temporary lack of enthusiasm about cycling. I crave my cycle rides and swimming sessions (and yes, I am anticipating the depth of winter frustration, silly me) but during TWO WEEKS I could not muster the energy to do either due to my old friend anemia striking again. This weekend I was glad to get back into my routine with jellylike legs ;-)

    The physical and mental satisfaction afterwards is more than worth the effort.

    Happy week to you!

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    1. Merci, Stephanie. I'm very sorry to hear about the anemia and hope you are feeling much stronger now. You are right about the exercise - the ride ended much better than it began. :)

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  3. Ah yes, the last bit of summer. What a wonderful ride in spite of the challenges. Hope you feel better...allergies can be a bear!

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    1. Thanks Astri, I do - the allergies this year are something fearful. Though I'm not ready for summer to end I AM looking forward to the death of the ragweed. Death of the Ragweed ... good name for a play. Or a band. :)

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  4. Two wheels what a wonderful invention the bike.

    Love to read your posts of cycling in the country.

    Allergies are the pits, especially when the weather is so lovely, no humidity.

    Christy
    Lil Bit Brit

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    1. Amen to that! The humidity is back now, but we're dealing with it. Thanks for commenting! :)

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  5. So sorry for the negative health issues, Sue, but the result of your cycling in spite of them is delightful! When I was visiting my niece's farm in Nebraska several weeks ago I missed getting photos of their pigs, but your pig pictures are perfect :) As a matter of fact you have so many perfect photos in this batch I am especially celebrating your cycling-photo-shoot efforts. Thanks!
    Gracie xx

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    1. Thank you, Gracie ... I think my best photos are all from bike rides. It's a good incentive to get out there and ride! :)

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  6. Well done for getting out. I love the goldenrod - it isn't something we have over here. Juliex

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    1. Thanks Julie - the goldenrod is especially thick this year, and there are many varieties - even a white one.

      :)

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  7. Beautiful pictures! Now, aren't you GLAD you exercised????

    (I know .... some days it is really TOUGH to get going. Today was one of those days for me.)

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    1. Yes, I'm glad - it helped loosen things up! Hope your day got better. And thanks! :)

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  8. Yes, we can feel that autumn is creeping into the corners of our sunlit world! I do love the lighting at this time of the year.
    Those Golden Rod on your bike ride are just beautiful, complete with buzzing bee! I find they are more sleepy looking now too! I had to laugh at the muddy pig's snout peeping through the fence!

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    1. The pigs are so friendly - I think it's because they are raised kindly and with lots of human interaction.

      The lighting is so lovely in September and October, isn't it?

      Thanks Sandra! :)

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  9. Love your pictures Mrs M - especially the bee picture. It amazes me how fluffy they look!

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    1. I know - so soft and furry and stroke-able looking.

      Thanks Michelle! :)

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  10. Wish I could help you with the orage berries identification, but I am like you, I type in so much in a search engine, that someone monitoring me might think I am from another planet! HA!

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    1. I spent HOURS on this and it's so frustrating not to have found an answer! But I learned several new plant names and some botanical terminology, so the search was not completely fruitless.

      (Botanical pun!) :)

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  11. ORANGE, I mean! A spider bite woke me up at 2am and I have been awake since then!! AHHHH!

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  12. I think those aspen leaves have a designer feel to them! As others have said, your photos are outstanding! I admire that you are able to get out there right now on the cusp of the season. I hope I can see and capture such magnificent views in three weeks and six days!

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    1. Fingers crossed, and counting....

      You're not kidding about the cusp of the season. The rot is setting in already - I did a 12 mile ride the other day and was so ashamed of myself. (I promised myself that this year I would never ride less than 15 miles. Ah well.)

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  13. I really enjoyed your ride. I love how every single season has something beautiful to reveal. I also love this line: "caught in the act of turning gold" ....it sounds like a perfect line for a poem. Love it!

    Blessings always

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    1. Thanks V! Almost used it as one of the 3 Great Things (those lines at the beginning of the post) but it felt too long, so I stuck it in the text instead.

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  14. Ah Wisconsin in the beginning stages of Autumn, so beautiful.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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    1. You know you are welcome to come visit any time and enjoy it too! :)

      Thanks Mere.

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