Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Monday Ride

Every year at about this time, the inner Mrs. M begins to dread the approach of autumn. All it takes is a glimpse of these...


...and summer seems all but dead already.

Why do I associate goldenrod with fall? I have no idea. Yet its appearance every August fills the Micawber soul with sorrow. I try to ignore the yellow peril as it spreads across the countryside, covering marsh and field, but resistance, of course, is futile. Summer will end (blogger emits tiny hiccuping sob). Fall will come. And after that, the seemingly never-ending cold of a Wisconsin winter. It happens every year. We're doomed.

All the more reason to ride while I can. :)

~ ~ ~

A warm and sticky Monday morning, but there's a strong wind blowing to mitigate the dampness of the air. Though rain is in the forecast, for now the sun shines brightly.

A few miles out of town, small peach-tinted blossoms peep out of green bushes on the far side of the verge. Usually these bushes are hidden by tall grass, but the verge has been freshly mown, giving a glimpse of the tangled growth beyond.

The flowers remind me of tiny speckled orchids. The wildflower book identifies them as Spotted Touch-Me-Not, or Jewelweed. Don't they look exotic?

More signs of impending autumn:

Much better to focus on this cheery orange milkweed, or Butterfly-weed:

(Why do so many of the most beautiful wildflowers have "weed" in their name?)

Miles later, a trio of birches guards the entrance to a shady drive which rises from the road and curves tantalisingly out of view. Where does it lead? I wish I could explore it....

The road climbs up towards the high prairie. If you were sitting on my handlebars and looking back over your shoulder, here's what you would see:

(Red-faced rider, green and gold cornfields, telephone wires stretching away into the blue distance. Not to mention the orange jersey and the purple helmet. Very colourful.)

At the top of the road I have to stop for a photo of the corn, which is taller than I am:

Across the road I spy some orange Hawkweed. This is one of my favourite wildflowers, but I've hardly seen any this season (though the yellow variety has been extremely prolific). I love the fringed, flame-coloured petals with the sun at their hearts, the burgundy-tipped buds, and the bright yellow stamens:

The hawkweed is growing in a large lawn which surrounds a rather nice barn:

Though the lawn has obviously been recently mown, the hawkweed plants have been spared. I think whoever lives here must be a kindred spirit. (Either that, or hawkweed grows really, really quickly.)

Around a few corners, then it's time for a shadow shot:

I had thought the swallows were already gone, but here on the high prairie some remain. They swoop and swirl over the road, or sit on the wires above the ripening corn:

This is the time of year when wild sunflowers and their many cousins smile from the roadsides and shine out from the tall grass:

Miles on, the Queen Anne's Lace is still going strong. I'd never noticed until today that its buds can be pale pink:

Here the verge is covered with QAL:

In the few miles left to go, I think of the flowers I've seen this season, and the ones I've missed. Every summer is different; a variety that takes center stage one year may be barely visible the next. But what a blessing to live, and be able to ride, where so many wildflowers thrive; to learn their names and their various haunts. When autumn comes and the flowers have gone, I'll still remember where they stood. Here was a glorious stretch of Queen Anne's Lace, I'll think, and there a huge patch of wild bergamot. On this road the blue flag iris grew; on that hill I saw the bittersweet. Up there is where I found an apple tree in bloom, and across the way a carpet of violets. The daylilies were nearly solid along this stretch; remember the wild geranium in that wood? The familiar roads will blossom with the ghosts of April and May, June and July; and when spring comes again and the flowers return, it will be like meeting old friends.

A good ride.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


  1. Whenever we walk out on our property, I always wish you were along to identify the wildflowers. Do you recommend a good book? Linda@Wetcreek Blog

    1. I was given a little book called "Wildflowers of Wisconsin" by Stan Tekiela - it's not complete (no book could be), but it's pretty thorough. If I can't find what I need in the book I consult a website that is devoted to Wisconsin wildflowers.

      The National Audobon Society puts out a line of wildflower guides that look pretty good - you might try the one appropriate for your area. :)

  2. Your life is so different. Here I wait for fall and winter. Summer is SO oppressively hot that it's hard to do anything enjoyable outside.

    I love seeing all the beautiful flowers and trees on your path. I'm sorry your winter will be so hard, but I know you'll truly appreciate the warmth when it comes back, just like I wait for the cool.

  3. how many miles so far this year??? You are amazing. Love those barns

  4. Hawkweed, Butterfly-weed and Jewelweed are all new to me...and not at all weedy to me either! Your photos are beautiful, Sue. Our QAL is thriving as well In regard to you comment on my last post, I have to confess I have let God know that I think having Scrabble, knitting, crocheting, painting, photography...in heaven is worthwhile :) xx

  5. What a beautiful cycle ride. We're going to get our middle boy a new bike, and then (once the biggest's leg is better) we'll all be able to go for rides together. I can't wait. The flowers you found are beautiful, and the jewelweed is exquisite, like an orchid. The swallows have been gathering here too, they can feel the season turning. That's a beautiful shot in your header now, I love coneflowers. CJ xx

  6. Yes, Goldenrod says autumn to me too! However, I love the autumn season and prefer it to summer which is often too hot for my liking! This summer over here was rather wet with heavy rains, humid heat and very changeable. I like the Hawkweed shot! Autumn colours in all their vibrant glory!
    Enjoy your cooler autumn bike rides!

  7. Your pictures of these beautiful wildflowers are gorgeous. I envy you a teeny tiny bit. The summer here in the Northern part of Germany seems to be already over. It is quite cold and there is no day without rain. I started to bake - today some Cinnamon rolls - to get some warmth and good smell into my kitchen. Enjoy your rides in the sun! Viola

  8. I love this post. I often have conversations like this with myself as the seasons change. It helps me hold onto the things I love about each time of the year. You have such a beautiful place to ride and I always enjoy seeing what you see.

  9. Nice post with beautiful flower pics! I'm not sure which flower I like the most. Late summer and early fall are the best months for the things I like to do. Although the signs of change have been around, the inevitability of winter begins with the first hard freeze at lower elevations. What helps me with the cold is a quiver of outdoor winter activities.

  10. Such lovely wild flowers. I always love tagging along with you on a ride. :)

  11. What a lovely ride. I adore orange hawkweed too - they are such a warm colour. And, having read Anne of Green Gables (following our wee chat a few months ago), I now understand references to kindred spirits! I absolutely loved the book and am enjoying the luxury of working through the rest of them. Juliex

  12. Lovely pictures, I always enjoy riding along with you and seeing the lovely scenery unfold. It doesn't seem five minutes since the beginning of Spring and here we are with Autumn rapidly approaching I dread the cold weather too. :)

  13. Okay, this is weird ... but that last paragraph gave me goosebumps, which means I LIKED IT! Very well said and heart felt! :) Awesome ride! I can't remember the last time I rode a bike but would love to take a bike ride with you. I do find it rather strange the plants that are considered weeds that bloom so beautifully, some considered invasive, or noxious, so we rid the lands of them to plant something we think is more beautiful and which much be controlled. Anything around here that wants to voluntarily grow, I'm all for it. There were so many gorgeous wild sunflowers in Colorado. I just loved seeing their bright, colorful, golden faces every day. :) Have a terrific Thursday. Tammy

  14. Such beautiful flowers growing wild along your chosen path.
    It is true before we know it Summer will end and then Autumn shall arrive.
    Last Winter was harsh here too and I know you love to ride so it does restrict ones outdoor movement.
    But then you can enjoy your stitching by the fire and dream of gardens lying beneath the snow and trails not yet travelled.
    Love the selfie!
    Susan x

  15. Your photos are fabulous! What a scenic ride! Looks like a lot of fun! It's interesting how the thoughts of Fall coming can be sad for some yet delightful for others. It's my favorite season but I live in a very different climate. Fall, for me, means cooler days but beautiful weather. It means nights that are cooler and easier for sleeping. And, I love the way the light looks in the fall....so warm and beautiful. But, if Fall meant the disappearance of beautiful flowers and good weather that I could go outside and enjoy and the coming of days that are cold, gray and snowy...it would not be my favorite season. I would be sad. So great that you're savoring it and capturing it in gorgeous photos. Awesome!

  16. Your bike rides are very much like my walks over Arabia Mountain, I look forward to each season and welcome the flowers and all the changes. xx

  17. No signs of Autumn here. I miss Wisconsin in the Autumn, it is the most beautiful place to be.

  18. One of my pals from the Great White North complained to me yesterday because they've already had their first frost... So I guess I can't complain that our nights are getting just a wee bit cooler and our days are so short now, it's dark when I get home from work. Boohoo. But at least we won't have snow for another month...

    I do the same reminiscing on my rides, although now flowers and plants are thought of as experimental dyes instead of weeds or whatever, and more often, I'm remembering the wildlife I saw here and there.... Wonderful post! I love your wildflowers!

  19. Let us hope for a long and warm and colourful fall! :-)

  20. Last Monday as you were taking off on a lovely ride, I was trying to pass Physical therapy so I could leave the hospital. On Saturday I twisted my ankle going down the basement steps, fell the last couple of steps. It took an instant but in that instant I broke my ankle in three places, Has plates and screws put in Sunday. No weight bearing for 6-8 week. Really need to ride with you now.

  21. What a beautiful ride. Thank you so for showing me the glory of Wisconsin wild flowers. Weeds, fallen leaves and dried grasses are tops on my list.

  22. I too prefer the orange hawkweed to the yellow, it's such a rich colour.

    Hopefully you will enjoy a mild Wisconsin autumn before the cold Wisconsin winter closes in.

    Lovely floral post a Sue.


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