The last few weeks have been a mini-rollercoaster of weather - from extremes of hot humidity to a week of chilly socks-and-sweater days and where-are-the-extra-blankets nights. Now it's warmed up again - Summer's last gift before Autumn officially kicks off next week.
Life has been extra-full, with magazine projects (and an article!) due, extra hours spent covering for a co-worker on leave, and a brief but extremely painful dental interlude which put everything else on hold for a few days. All this has left very little time for cycling, but last Sunday I was finally able to get back on the bike.
It's been two weeks since I've ridden, and I can't wait to see what's blooming as Summer winds down into Fall. The brief week of cold weather has discouraged the goldenrod and finished off many of the other late-summer flowers, but I'm counting on plenty of aster.
And here are the first, thronging the roadsides in palest lavender:
A favourite silo:
A tiny, brilliant knapweed blossom shines from a recently-mown verge:
Lichened bridge railing over a brown stream flowing between almost-autumn-tinted banks:
Frilly white patches of Queen Anne's Lace...
...mixed with one of the many varieties of wild sunflower (another member of the Aster family):
Across the road, some deeper lavender aster (these are Azure Aster or Prairie Heart-Leaved Aster, Aster oolentangiensis Riddell):
And at the end of this road, the loveliest aster of them all (in my opinion) - Smooth Aster (Aster laevis var. laevis), like tiny bits of sky fallen into the ditch:
A few miles more, and we reach a favourite marshy corner. Next month, these black waters will reflect the fire of maples turned red and gold by frost, but today, the reflections are still mostly green:
At the edge of the water blooms an Evening Primrose:
Around the bend, the cornfields are turning from green to gold under the deep blue sky:
More asters grow here - a very large, deep-pink variety (I think these are New-England Aster, or Aster novae-angliae):
At our feet, Tallulah notices a humbler plant - it's Burdock, bearing prickly blossoms:
Back on the bike, it's time for a shadow shot:
We pass a favourite shed, and snap a photo to remember it by (in case it falls down over the winter - it's slumping a little more each year):
A few miles on, I see several pairs of turkey buzzards flying over the fields and woods to my right. I turn down a side road for a closer look, and soon they begin to circle overhead, back and forth and around, getting a little lower each time. They're huge, dark, and a bit sinister. (In fact they remind me of the flying Nazgul in Lord of the Rings.)
One by one, they begin to land in a tree about 25 yards away. They're facing me, and obviously watching to see if I'll move. There are nine in all (just like the Nazgul - this is getting creepy).
It's rather unnerving to be watched by these huge carrion birds. They make me think of desert treks across endless sands, of men fainting for lack of water, collapsing under the pitiless burning sun as the circling buzzards descend to peck and tear at their....
High time I moved on to more cheerful places and thoughts! By now there are five birds in the tree - all staring straight at me - and the other four are preparing to land. I resist the urge to look over my shoulder as I pedal away.
Miles on, I spy yellow blossoms growing in a marsh. It's too late for kingcups - what can these flowers be?
They're obviously a member of the vast Aster family, but growing straight out of the water. I'm not sure I've ever seen that before. Research identifies them as Nodding Beggar-Ticks, or Nodding Bur-Marigold (Bidens cernua). Another one for the wildflower list! :)
Only a few miles to go now. I stop for one last aster photo - a very tiny variety, similar to Daisy Fleabane.
(But are they asters after all? I just found a link which suggests they may be False Aster or White Doll's-Daisy, Boltonia asteroides.)
So many flowers, so little time. The wildflower list continues to grow - as of today the total is 135. It's bound to slow down soon; we usually get our first frost before the end of September. But for now the sun is shining and I'm looking forward to the weekend and the chance to ride again.
I hope the sun is shining for you too, wherever you are.
P.S. The next installment of Binding Off Knitted Projects with a Crochet Hook will be up in a few days. :)
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