Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Gusty Ride, with Pictures & the Three Great Things

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Scent of woodsmoke warming the air
Rich brown soil in a fresh-plowed field
Bittersweet glowing scarlet and orange

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Well, it finally happened. We got our first snow this week. I am thankful to say that it melted right off, but it's a sign of things to come. Today's weather was surprisingly mild, with heavy cloud cover, temps in the low 50s, and a strong, gusty west wind which veered around to the south about halfway through my ride. Last night the government graciously returned the hour they stole from us in the spring, so it was a little darker than usual by the time I finished.

A hard frost a few nights back has leached most of the remaining autumn colour from the landscape, leaving it full of soft fawns and beiges. What leaves were left on the trees have been discouraged by the cold and are dropping fast, revealing more and more bare branches. The countryside seems wider and emptier now without the heavy foliage.

I stop to take a picture of milkweed pods, when this tractor approaches, so I decide to snap it first. Even after living here 19 years I still love seeing farm equipment.

Here are those milkweed pods. They look rather exotic, I think.

Now that most of the flaunting foliage is gone, smaller treasures are being revealed. This is the first of many nests I see today. It's very small, no more than 4" across.

And a few bushes down, I see these lovely red berries. The sun comes out and lights them up just as I'm getting ready to take their picture.

Another nest in a thicket of branches.

The cattails are beginning to look like sheep in need of a shearing.

Hiding in the ditch but now exposed: a tree trunk covered with fascinating mushrooms.

Here's another nest. This one is quite large and I'm pretty sure it belongs to a squirrel or two.

Birch bark backed by the beautiful red stems of an unknown plant. These stems shine brightly all winter long and add colour to an otherwise vanilla landscape.

I take a short detour to visit these larches. A few weeks ago they were greeny-yallery, and now they're pure spun gold.

And ... a nest! Probably a squirrel's.

A favourite scenic spot. The weeping willows are finally yielding to autumn and are beginning to turn  yellow. Just here I catch the scent of woodsmoke coming from someone's stove.

Across the road and a bit further down, this field which in the summer was amber with wheat is now black with freshly-turned earth.

My favourite bend in the road. I have an unexplainable love for those trees on the right. I've passed them countless times this year, watched them leaf out and grow heavy with green, and now they're bare again.

These birds are swooping and dipping over the fields in marvellous clouds of coordinated chaos, taking off from the trees and then landing again.

I love this line of paper-white birches rising up out of the dry grass.

A few miles on, an old tree trunk covered with vines.

A bit of goldenrod gone to seed.

And what do I spy behind the goldenrod bushes? Bittersweet! Formerly a protected species in Wisconsin, it's now fair game for anyone who can find it. I never knew it grew in this spot until now. Another treasure revealed by the dying-back of the larger plants.

Detail of a tumbledown old shed. The cornfields behind it can be glimpsed through the crack around the door.

Last week these trees were full of colour. Now only the stubborn oaks are hanging on to their leaves, and most of them are turning from red to brown.

Sometime during the week the beehives below have been wrapped in dark material, no doubt in preparation for winter. Their glorious background is fading now.

Another favourite view, looking northeast. The clouds are beginning to pinken as the day draws to its close.

Looking back, I am startled to see the moon rising. I probably missed some good shots earlier when it was closer to the horizon... I try to remedy the omission.

And in the other direction, the sun is sinking in glorious splendour.

So glorious that I have to take another picture to show off the trees in lovely silhouette against the dying of the day.

Home again, and just in time to catch the last burst of rose in the west.

A very good ride indeed. Windy, but warmer than I expected and full of beauty. How I love this place and these weekend rides.

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  1. Love the photos. You have an artist's eye. Thank you for sharing them.

    KA, Minnesota

  2. So much to see, where to start...

    I like the glowing berries, the rising moon and the setting sun.
    I like how I'm starting to recognise sections of your routes, like your favourite bend and the willow trees, and it's pleasing to see them as the seasons change through the year.
    And I like being able to follow a fellow crocheting cyclist's bike rides even though we're so many miles apart.


  3. Another lovely ride, between you and Andamento I have had a lot of exercise this week! The 'Bitersweet' plant looks quite similar to our 'Spindleberry', I shall have to research it to see if they are related.

  4. I can see why you love your surroundings. The farm equipment is so very cool. The last three photos with the clouds...breathtaking! Good to see that you had no dog issues this time.

    Enjoy your week, Sue.

  5. Beautiful photos. I love the cattail and milkweed - I've heard of them but didn't know what they looked like. Your part of the world looks lovely. Juliex

  6. Hi, Mrs. Micawber! Thanks for the visit. It took about 70 pictures of the falling leaves to get the ones I posted in Currents. Sheer numbers gave me a few good shots.

    I love this post! What a beautiful area, so artistically shared in your pictures. Love bittersweet and those other red berries. Winterberries, maybe? And the red stems by the birch might be red twig dogwood - I've seen it growing in fields in central Wisconsin. Even when cut and added to arrangements, they keep their color for a long time. I have a bundle I get out about this time of year, and it must be 8 years old by now.

    I will be back to visit again!

  7. Hi Sue, Thanks so much for cheering me up this morning. I don't think the sun has risen for the past few days (!) and I'm having an attack of the winter glooms so your beautiful photos have lifted my spirits. I'm struck by how similar your corner of Wisconsin looks to Norfolk, strange when we are so far apart. It would be lovely if you could join in the Reasons to be Cheerful. The Linky is live from midnight (UK time)on Thursday to midnight Sunday each week. Look forward to seeing you there! Penny x
    P.S. that scarf is gorgeous!

  8. You do live in such a beautiful part of the world! Our trees are still pretty leafy, but it is getting colder and damper. I would prefer snow and blue skies!

    PS re your comment I am a freelance editor (and do proofreading as well) - hence the copious quantities of words I deal with!

    Pomona x

  9. I'm with Anne! Love seeing your route through your eyes. I, too, am hampered by darkness while trying to get in a few more miles this late in the year, but must keep pushing. Your sunset photos are so spectacular! The sky seems on fire! Oh, and we've had four snowfalls so far, two heavy. So we have very few leaves left now.

  10. Beautiful photographs, so evocative of the last days of autumn.

  11. Thanks for the beautiful ride. What gorgeous surroundings and views!


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