Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Rides and Magazine Projects

How can the year be so far advanced? And what happened to Spring? Here in Wisconsin, we seem to have leapfrogged into Summer, complete with warm weather, thunderstorms, and intermittent torrential rains. The trees are fully leafed out, their once-myriad delicate tints now merged into a solid canopy of green.

Life in the Micawber household is slightly less frenetic than it was, for which I am very grateful. There's time now to breathe, to fold laundry and do dishes, to cook, to ride. Time to obsess over take pictures of wildflowers....

Here are some photos from my last three rides.

Sunday before last: It's a gorgeously hot day, and Tallulah and I decide to ride over to the Wisconsin River. We see plenty of wildflowers along the way:

Dame's Rocket

Clockwise from left, Leafy Spurge, Oleaster, Large-Flowered Trillium

I was very excited to find the Trillium pictured above, having never seen one before (except on the cover of my wildflower book). I thought they only grew in the woods, but this one was plunk in the middle of a sunny ditch. The flowers were nearly as big as my hand, and highly visible from the road.

These horses seem like old friends; I've been riding past their pasture for years now:

The ever-alluring bend in the road:

Irrigation equipment:

More Dame's Rocket, including a blindingly white variety that is surprisingly prolific this year:

I like the rooflines on these farm buildings:

We reach the river. Iris the bike leans against a tree while Miss T and I head down to the water's edge, she to watch the ripples, I to eat a banana.

It's good to see the river again, to feel the sun on our backs and hear the happy shouts of boaters.

On our way home we pass a favourite field, the grass mown in sweeping curves around two splendid trees:

A very satisfying ride.


Two days later I head out for a short ride. Though time is limited, the wildflowers are too beguiling to pass by....

Top: Hoary Puccoon; bottom left, Wild Geranium; bottom right, Balsam Groundsel

Also blooming on this ride were wild columbine and three varieties of honeysuckle (not pictured).

I'm learning to tell the difference between dogwood (four-petalled blossoms, leaves smooth-edged) and elder (five-petalled blossoms, leaves serrate):

Red-twig Dogwood (left); Elder (right). Both beautiful!

Another lovely bend in the road:

A good ride; short on miles but long on flowers.


Monday, Memorial Day: I've been waiting all weekend for a chance to ride, and finally it comes. The afternoon is hot and sunny (as opposed to the rain we usually get on Memorial Day).

Wild white roses are springing up everywhere:

I like the wonky door on this shed:

Amish draft horses taking the afternoon off:

Power, old and new:

What about the wildflowers? (I can hear you wondering.) There were plenty of those too:

Left: buttercup (top), Daisy Fleabane (bottom); center, unknown.
Right: Golden Alexanders (top), Black Medick (bottom).

(Also seen but not pictured: bladder campion, 3 varieties of clover, cow parsnip, hoary alyssum, butter-and-eggs, Dame's rocket. I really need to start a 2016 wildflower list.)

The locust trees are blooming right now, sending waves of sweetness on the breeze:

How about some wild grass, just as a break from flowers? Although there are locust blossoms in the background.... :)

Another good ride. Here's to many more of them!


Have you seen the Love of Crochet Summer 2016 issue?

Photo copyright Love of Crochet/Julia Vandenoever

That's one of my projects on the cover (blogger coughs modestly while kicking herself for not posting this weeks ago when the magazine first came out).

It's a lacy poncho made of join-as-you-go 3-round motifs, with removable ties that allow it to be worn as a top.

Also in this issue are my Tidal Shawl, an elongated half-hexagonal shawl with a simple, fast-growing dc body and a lacy border copied from an antique table runner:

Left and upper right photos copyright Love of Crochet/Julia Vandenoever

And the Just-Enough Purse, a small bag worked in center single crochet with a fun row of flowers around the top:

To see all the patterns in Love of Crochet Summer 2016, visit the Ravelry page here. To order your own copy, visit the Interweave store here.


And that's all she wrote. See you in June!

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Apple Blossom Time

...is nearly over; after a week of rain and wind, these darling buds of May have mostly fallen from the trees. But on last Sunday's ride, the countryside was full of their beauty:

Yellow torches of winter cress were lighting up the verges...

As were dandelions, those cheery harbingers of sunshine to come:

The past few months have been so frenetic, there's been little time for cycling. Plum-blossom time has come and gone, so I felt lucky to find this little tree still blooming:

The sweetest flowers have the shortest lives. But the garlic mustard is always with us:

Tallulah and I had planned our route around the flowers we hoped to see. There's a certain stretch of roadside which is royal with violets every spring, and this year it didn't disappoint us:

"Look at that sea of purple!" says Tallulah. "I wish I could dive into it!"

Tallulah gets her wish

A few hundred yards further is a marsh where kingcups grow. Miss T, who for a turtle is strangely averse to water, sat safely in my pocket whilst I navigated the tussocky ground for a close-up:

We turned to climb up the bank to the road, and there, hiding in the grass, were the first tiny stars of Canada anemone (try staying that 10 times fast):

Back on the bike, we headed around the corner and down the next road. Some small white tufts that looked vaguely like clover blossom proved on closer inspection to be Pussytoes, a fuzzy little flower of the Aster family:

A little farther on, we found the flowers we were most hoping to see:

Greek Valerian or Jacob's Ladder

Last spring I first discovered them growing here, and have been looking forward ever since to seeing them again.

Several miles later, at a favourite willowy bend, Mr. and Mrs. Canada Goose shepherded their adorable offspring into the water and away from the strange human with a camera:

Shadow of same, back on the bike:

We passed maple trees decked with dangling blossom, putting out ghostly fingers of leaves:

At the next corner stood more wild apple trees, all glorious in white:

Where's Tallulah?

This is the time of year when Nature layers beauty upon beauty, tint upon tint. Leaf and blossom, pink and violet and burgundy, glow between the fresh emerald of new grass and the soft sapphire of the sky, while a thousand shades of green glimmer from the treetops:

A Favourite Tree seemed glad to see us again, as we were to see it:

Across the road, in the flickering light and shade of the woods, we saw a miracle of blossoms clustered around a mossy trunk:

Doesn't it look like something out of Lord of the Rings? The forest glades of Ithilien come to mind....

Around the corner and down the hill, we're firmly back in the Wisconsin countryside.

It was good to get out on the bike, to feel the sun on my skin, to ride familiar roads, and find flowers and trees I remember from other years blooming still in the same places, adding new beauties to the store of memory.

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Thank you all for your kind comments on my last post. My sister is slowly (so slowly) getting better, though some difficult decisions lie ahead for her. My dad continues to need help and care. Blogging and cycling have to take a back seat right now, but I hope some day to be able to do more of both.

How is May treating you?

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