Monday, August 5, 2013

Sunny and Cloudy: Two Rides

We've been having a strange spell of weather here in Wisconsin. After a positively cool snap last weekend (in which we all wondered uneasily whether autumn was coming early), temps have moderated a bit. But it's still not very August-like.

Saturday Afternoon gorgeously blue-skied and white-clouded. Several miles out from town, a field of sunflowers (almost hidden from the road) is in full bloom:

I would like to climb over the brush and get right in amongst them, but the deerflies are too many for me.

Swallows have been gathering for a few weeks now - the telephone wires are covered with long lines of them (though they inevitably scatter as soon as I pull out the camera, and by the time it's turned on and focused most of them have gone):

Tallulah is tucked into her basket under the handlebars...

...enjoying a front-row view of the open road.

Slight detour to visit a favourite group of birches:

Across the road from the birches, feathery asparagus dangles tiny bell-like blossoms which will soon turn to seed:

And Joe-Pye weed is just coming on to bloom, its fuzzy red stalks and rosy buds looking very springlike against the bright blue sky:

A car passes, then slows down, and the driver leans out to ask me: "What are you looking for?" I smile and wave my camera at him. "I'm photographing wildflowers." He nods in comprehension and drives off.

Back on the bike, I round the corner and startle a ... (blogger pauses to look up collective term for blackbirds - apparently there are three: cloud, grind, merl)...

...a cloud of blackbirds who are busy in a field of corn (up to no good, I am sure, from the farmer's point of view, but jam for the passing cyclist-photographer who happens to have camera in hand).

Up a hill, down a grade, past familiar houses and woods. Suddenly it hits me: I can take my time! I don't have to hurry! I'm not training for anything - just out for some pleasant exercise.

On the strength of this we stop at our favourite marshy corner. There are some photo-worthy flowers on either side of this bridge, and Iris looks well against the bridge railing:

To one side, Black-Eyed Susans dance in the wind against a background of spotted knapweed:

On the foremost blossom is a bonus bug, which I didn't notice until the photo-editing stage. He's striped in chocolate and yellow, and matches the flower perfectly:

We re-cross the bridge for a look at the Queen Anne's Lace that grows in the shade on the other side, and Tallulah (after several failed attempts) succeeds in posing on one of the blossom heads.

"Can you make me all misty and romantic-looking?" she asks. "No, but I can guarantee that the focus will be wrong somewhere - maybe that will do," I reply.

The next shot is dreadfully twee, but I had to include it:

As long as we're on a roll....

Back on the bridge, I look over the rail and notice a strange intermittent sparkling of the water. A host of minnows floats beneath the surface, and every so often a group of them will rise together and (I presume) poke their noses out just for a second, creating a quick, magical, glittering flash. Then they sink back below the water as if nothing had happened.

I stand on the bridge for several minutes, watching the small miracle happen again and again, and wishing it could be captured on camera.

Finally we climb back on the bike and strike out for home. Several miles on, we pass a gorgeously thick patch of heliopsis, glowing like the heart of summer:

And a few miles later we're home, happy and full of fresh air.

Sunday Afternoon cloudy and grim and very different from Saturday. Though I carry the camera, I anticipate few photos.

Then I pass a patch of milkweed with bumblebees hugging the blossoms. One flies off at my approach, but the other is intent on its work and pays no attention to the camera just centimetres away:

(I wish I had that same power of focusing on the job at hand to the exclusion of all else. It would come in very handy at home during those periods of would-be creativity when the crochet muse is battling the distraction of Mr. M's comings and goings.)

Miles go by with nothing worthy of a photo. Then a fat woodchuck crosses the road, sees me, and runs panicking into the grass at the other side:

A windmill peeks out from soft-needled pines. Someone is having a bonfire below, and the smoke rises between the trees:

A handsome wooded hillside looms; time for a short (but steep) climb.

The road leads through dim shady woods, dark under the grey sky.

Just as the trees open out, the sun appears. On my left is an incredibly green, glowing field. Two deer stand there: a doe and her fawn. By the time I circle slowly back, the mum has run off but the fawn remains to stare at me:

At the top of the climb and around a corner, the country opens out:

Then down a quick winding descent, and turn right to cross the valley floor.

What's this?

Around the corner stands a scenic barn which marks the start of the Rustic Road...

...the thought of which is very tempting. But it will take me way off course, so I make plans to come back another day and enjoy it in full.

I'm passing through Amish country now.

Bright barn, with fresh steel roof:

And haystacks behind:

The clouds roll in again, and I'm getting hungry. Time to make tracks for home.

We pass a cheerfully-decorated barn:

Then finally are on the outskirts of our village, where purple loosestrife is blossoming in marshy ground. One last photo stop...

...then home and dinner.

Two good rides, made more so by the hint of approaching autumn and the realisation that the cycling season may soon be drawing to a close.

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


  1. Cycling season coming to a close 8-( I am bummed to hear that! Thanks for sharing the luscious countryside. I always enjoy your postings.

    1. It's not of course ... but when we have cool weather and gloomy days it's hard not to be a bit Eeyore-ish about it.

      Thanks Sue! How is your weather in Mo?

    2. Humid and gloomy - UGH! So I am Eeyore-ish about blow-up pool season --- grkids not able to splash around in pool because it's cloudy/almost rainy. We love to be outside but too humid for Gramma so making the best of it inside for now.

  2. I love this post so much. It's like riding along with your and Miss T. So much fun.

    The flowers are beautiful. I have always loved wildflowers and you capture them so perfectly. I can tell you are an artist just by looking at your photos!

    Blessings always

    1. It's all due to Picasa and judicious cropping.... :)

      Thanks so much Vicki. I love wildflowers too, and would never have started photographing them and learning their names if not for this blog.

  3. Yet another lovely ride. I do so enjoy going with you and envy Tallulah riding with you all the time. How kind of that motorist stopping to help you look for .....whatever....very chivalrous! I loved all the flower photos and bugs but the best of all has to be the photos of the bee! How wonderful to capture it just like that! I look forward to discovering the secrets of the Rustic Road! Joan

    1. Thanks Joan - I was tickled to get those bee photos. I had the camera right on top of him and he never seemed to notice!

      I look forward to going back and exploring that Rustic Road - and you may be sure I'll take my camera along. :)

  4. Such beautiful sights to see in Wisconsin, I loved it so much when I lived there for a short time. Every day brought something beautiful to see. Thank you and Miss Tallulah for taking us along.

    1. Thanks Mere - I am so grateful to be surrounded by such beautiful countryside and so many lovely growing things. :)

  5. I've never seen a bug with a "racing stripe" before. So cute.

    Your pictures are BEAUTIFUL! Love that big, fat bumble bee doing his (her?) thing.

    Glad you had two good rides.

    1. That bug is cute, isn't it? I don't know what kind it is but thought it fun that it matched the flower so well.

      Thanks for commenting! :)

  6. You make me so green with envy because I haven't been on my bike for a month now. Your barn and flower photos are so beautiful and inspiring. I hope you have plenty of riding weather left. After all, we need photos of your new jersey and shorts! (And the auto fill in my phone thinks I'm mistyping a state name!!!)

    1. I too hope there's plenty of riding weather left - there probably is - I was just being gloomy like the grey weather we had Sunday. Summer's going by so darn fast....

      If it makes you feel any better I envy your wildflower hikes! :)

  7. It seems too soon to be talking about Autumn Sue!!
    Another lovely picturesque post.
    Love the field of Sunflowers, the Bumble bee doing it's thing, the barns and stooks of hay.......
    I certainly hope there are many more rides to be had before the weather cools too much.

    Claire x

    1. Thanks Claire - and you're right, it's much too soon to be talking about Autumn. Sufficient unto the day.... :)

  8. The weather has been iffy here too.....I know I've heard more than one say, I wonder if that was summer. Mind we certainly need the rain, not very often you hear a welsh person say that! Great pics on both days despite the weather change, it must be good to enjoy the ride for the sake of the ride ow, with no agenda as such. Love the flowers, the fish and the barns!

    1. Thanks Faith - and yes, it was great to realise that serious training is over and I can just take my time! Hope you have some more warmth and pleasant sunny weeks coming to you. :)

  9. You have outdone yourself on the photos this ride Sue. I must confess that any shot with Tallulah just makes me smile. Love the barns. The wildflowers are so pretty.
    Thanks for taking us riding with you.

    1. Tallulah's so darn photogenic that I am rather jealous. :)

      Thanks for all your kind words! :)

  10. Well, even though I can't ride a bike, I feel like I was right there with you on your rides, Sue. Your posts are wonderful gifts I enjoy opening. [ After your comment that you thought you counted nine bees on the lavender on my blog photo, I went back and counted again...with a magnifying glass, and finally thought I saw nine as well :) But there were sooooo many it was both an amazing sight and sound. I was a bit anxious about the possible danger of us being stung, but their hum-buzz was rather soothing to hear. ] I was really excited to see the wonderful bee photos you were able to show in this post!!! Well done!!! And Miss T has endeared herself to me once more. Thanks so much for posting, Sue!
    Gracie xx

    1. One of those bees was pretty blurry - I saw 8 for sure but kind of assumed there were many more I wasn't seeing. :)

      I used to be very scared of bees but now I realise they have something better to do than to sting me - the flowers are much more tempting than could possibly be.

      Thanks Gracie!

  11. How lucky we all are. Two absolutely gorgeous rides filled with such beauty. I cannot pick a favorite photo..they are all amazing. Thank you for brightening my day so much.

    1. You're very welcome, and thanks so much for coming and commenting! :)

  12. Hi Tallulelah and it was great to see your bike in this post! Its so pretty. Love all the sunflowers

    1. Thanks kathy! And my bike thanks you too ... it's 28 you know, which is about 150 in human years. :D

  13. Beautiful rides, and definitely now you get to take your time! I went for a ride on Sunday with a friend who's a stronger biker than me and it was not as much fun as when I can set my own pace, LOL.

    1. Definitely not as much fun, or as relaxing! But sometimes it's good to be challenged (I guess). :)


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