Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Grey and Blue Sunday Ride

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Rosy acorn on a wet road
Crystalline air of September
Sun wrestling with clouds (and winning)

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Sunday morning is delightfully rainy - perfect weather for knitting - but in the afternoon the rain stops falling. Roads begin to dry, and the cyclist's conscience awakes. ("You haven't been out all week," it whispers. "Weren't your clothes feeling a bit tight yesterday? You really should take a ride.")

It's cloudy and damp. Temps are in the upper 50s and a cold northeast wind is blowing when Iris and I (with Tallulah the Turtle) set out to quell the cyclist's conscience. I'm wearing a jacket for the first time in months, and spend the first several miles wondering whether I ought to have included arm warmers.

The sky is grey and lowering, but here and there a gleam of blue shines through with the promise of clearing later. The marshes are strangely quiet today - blackbirds have taken their song south for the winter, and even the katydids' hum is subdued as they feel the approach of autumn.

I pass a row of tall bushes with stems and branches of a bright, improbable magenta:

Some branches are tipped with sprays of deep-pink blossoms, and some with berries of a fresh, light green (slowly turning here, from red to deepest plum-colour):

Research reveals these to be pokeberries. (How have I never seen them before?)

A wild cucumber vine is tangled up with the pokeberries, its pod already dried and burst open at the bottom for the release of seeds:

At the marsh up the road, the world seems a bit drab and colourless by comparison with the vibrant pokeberries:

Grasses wave against a cloudy sky:

A mile or two later, blue sky suddenly appears to the north...

...though to the east and south (where I am headed) the clouds still look like rain.

A hawk sits in a bare tree (and lets me take several photos)...

...then decides it's time for a break. Off to look for a snack:

Where are those blue skies now? The favourite bend in the road sits under a canopy of cloud:

We pass a clump of goldenrod, and Tallulah reminds me that I promised her a whiff of the yellow stuff.


These flowers grow nearby, and I take several photos before I realise they're asters (closed):

Asters (open):

Some way behind the goldenrod and aster grow these new-to-me deep-blue flowers (which I shoot from a distance as I don't know how solid the ground is):

My wildflower book identifies them as bottle gentians. (Hooray! I knew gentians grew in Wisconsin but these are the first I've seen.)

Back on the bike, we continue on our way, past the sheep farm and the pedigreed pigs, and up a long gradual climb where acorns crunch beneath our tyres.

One perfect little acorn, blushing with modesty, lies by itself on the still-wet road:

To our left is a long view across golden-green fields to the wind farm:

We climb up to the high prairie, turn a corner, and miles later descend again into long valleys filled with end-of-summer fields, where buff turns to bronze under marching cloud shadows:

Speaking of shadows, mine finally puts in an appearance....

The ride which began in cloudy gloom has ended in bright sunshine. Much better than the other way around!

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  1. Enjoy your fall weather. We are still "summering" here. I need to see if we have acorns, since I haven't seen squirrels lately. Guess they are keeping cool in the forest. Linds

  2. Love your photos and descriptions of wildflowers. Thanks for taking me on your ride! Midwest has been a messy mix of temps the last 2 wks - near 100* last week, dropping to 40-60's at night this week with a spot of rain thrown in! I am anxious for fall! Hummingbirds still here and busy at the feeders.

  3. Poke berries!!! We don't have them here, and they are supposed to make fabulous dye when fermented inside a pumpkin!!!

    Clothes too tight, oh does that sound too familiar!! But I might get to do a baby ride this weekend to see how I feel!

    I hope I see as many beautiful sites as you have seen!

  4. Beautiful pictures! You are making me very jealous with your already-fall weather. We are still in summer mode here. :-(

    Soon --- very soon hopefully --- we'll have some cooling breezes and I'll get out on my bike.

  5. Those poke berries are just amazing with their vibrant little blooms and colourful berries. So nice to admire nature on your bike rides!

  6. Love the stories that include Tallulah. And the colors...just fabulous!

  7. Mrs. Micawber, thanks so much for taking along this wonderful ride! Looking at your pictures made feel so free and fresh - open fields, burst of colors! Loved them all!
    The pokeberry is absolutely stunning in its vibrant colors, I've never seen such at my place :)
    You seem having a pleasant autumn like weather there, I can feel it... Here is still hot and I can't wait when it gets cooler.

  8. Wisconsin looks so beautiful with its flora and beautiful golden colours Sue, it made me smile when you mentioned the "cyclists conscience" xxx have a great rest of the week x Penny

  9. What a nice ride! The pokeberries are everywhere in our woods,too. My pockets are full of acorns-I'm going to make some acorn people out of them :) :)

  10. What a ride. I totally love everything about those pokeberries. Then you show me those fantastic blue flowers and they are a fantastic color. (I am after all a blue girl).
    As usual your pictures and descriptions take me on a lovely ride and I enjoy it all from my couch, (Ok that isn't a good thing but I do enjoy it anyway)

  11. Another beautiful ride, I love how Autumn is slowly spreading her wings.

  12. Lovely post, Sue! I enjoy seeing your world through your eyes. There is beauty everywhere. I'm glad that Tallulah didn't sneeze from the goldenrod! Take care!

  13. What a variety of photos Sue, love the colours in the Poke berries and that lonesome acorn is just beautiful.....it makes a great header pic too.
    A lovely post and interesting to see the changes taking place in your corner of the globe.

    Enjoy your weekend,

    Claire x

  14. Ahhh, poke berries. A memory from childhood. My cousins and I use to pick the berries and pelt each other with them. We also would squish them and make ink. Lots of fun when you grow up in the country. I love your country rides.


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