Sunday, May 24, 2015

Flowery May

The Wisconsin spring is following its usual rollercoaster course of temps - 80º one day, 40º the next. Between the hot spells, we've had freezing nights, weeks of chilly rain, and some icily windy days. Though the weather sites say it's been a warm spring, the overall feel has been chilly. (Perhaps this is the psychological effect of being cold when we were expecting gentle heat?)

But the wildflowers are up and out in force - many of them early - so maybe spring has been warmer than it seems. Here are some photos taken on last weekend's (mid-May) rides....

Saturday: Honeysuckle is everywhere, pink and white and pink again, smelling engagingly sweet:

This pine has burst into knobbly bud:

Some miles later, while scanning a ditch for flowers, the Micawber eye spots something white. Closer inspection reveals it to be what I think is wild strawberry:

I'll have to keep an eye on this ditch. Maybe I can catch the fruit when it's ripe. :)

A patriotic barn quilt:

Honeysuckle aren't the only things blooming right now. Of course we have plenty of these:

And by default, these:

Notice the bike in the background :)

Whatever lawn-lovers may say, I like dandelions. They're the first bright spot of colour we get after a long drab winter, and their cheerful sunniness lights up many a waste space that would otherwise be dull brown-green. And they're a good source of food for bees and other wildlife.

Lilac time is drawing to a close. Last weekend, you could already see the blossoms beginning to rust:

("Ahem," says Tallulah. "Weren't you going to say something about how well I match the lilacs? Some witty remark about turtle camouflage, perhaps?" "Sorry, Miss T," say I. "You certainly do blend in well, except for the helmet and shell cover. Just try not to get any brown spots, okay?")

Around the corner from the lilac stands a Favourite Tree in all its glory of delicate spring leaf:

At the willowy bend a few miles on, I see two families of Canada geese. One pair has seven goslings, the other six. The seven-gosling family scrambles messily and hurriedly into the water, refusing to pose nicely. But the six-gosling group lines up obligingly:

The young 'uns are out of the tiny fluffy stage and just entering their gangly pre-teen days. But they're still awfully cute.

Down the road and around another corner, I find a new-to-me wildflower. The blossoms look very like forget-me-not, but copious research reveals them to be Greek valerian or Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum):

As I squat in the grass taking photos, a cyclist pulls up and says, "I'll bet you know where you are, don't you?"

"I do," I say. "Do you?"

Turns out she's out for a long morning ride (about 90 miles - what a gal!) and has missed a turn somewhere. She asks if she can ride back to town with me, as she can find her way home from there. I warn her that I stop for wildflowers, but she's fine with that, so we take off together, talking as hard as we can. It's rare that I get to ride with anyone, so it's a great pleasure when I do run across a kindred spirit.

At the crossroads we say goodbye and wish each other good riding. Perhaps we'll meet again sometime on a winding country road.

~ ~ ~

Sunday: Thunderstorms have been forecast, and I sit around all morning waiting for the heavens to open. In the afternoon I fall asleep, and wake a few hours later to blue-and-white skies. Hooray!

I do like a late-afternoon ride, when the sun shines levelly across the fields, lighting up the trees and barns.

Dame's Rocket is already out in force - about two weeks earlier than usual:

I've set myself a goal this year to record every wildflower I see - with photos where possible, but otherwise as a written list which I'll combine with this year's Riding Diary. (I've missed logging some of the flowering trees, but hope to do better from here on.)

The first Canadian anemone are beginning to peek up like stars from the shady verges:

Here are some unknown tree buds about to burst open:

(When I see the blossoms a week later I realise it's probably dogwood.)

Today I discover a tiny clump of another new-to-me wildflower. It's Blue-Eyed Grass, a beautiful, miniscule member of the iris family:

Each blossom has a lime-green flower-shape at its center:

Two new wildflowers in two days - excitinger and excitinger! (I need to get out more.)

Golden Alexanders are just coming on, those tiny yellow first umbellifers of the year:

And the Wild Geranium is just beginning to spread its rosy loveliness in the shady ditches:

At the top of a hill, I see another new flower:

These are found on a tall tree-like shrub with leathery leaves and an abundance of creamy blossoms. I have no idea what they could be, though the leaves make me think of bay. An arduous Internet search Sunday evening finally yields a name: Autumn Olive or Spreading Oleaster (Elaeagnus umbellata). Another invasive plant with lovely flowers - and later in the year it will be covered with dark-red berries.

Shadow shot:

Miles on, these sweet-faced creatures watch placidly as I stop to take their photo:

I think they're Jersey cattle - not a common breed in these parts.

Up hill and down, past the first barn quilt I ever photographed years ago (and still a favourite):

Fields and trees bask in the warm sun under wide spring skies.

What a blessing to be able to ride out and see all these things. The year is a banquet of beauty, with new courses appearing continually on its table. What will it serve up next week?

Something lovely, I'm sure.

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


  1. Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos. After all that sure if good to see those lovely colors and all that green. Blessings to you sweet friend. :)

  2. Oh it's a wonderful, wonderful time of year isn't it, it makes the heart sing. The honeysuckle is lovely, fantastic to see the different varieties. I'm glad you had such a lovely ride. And very impressed with the 90 miles woman, wow! CJ xx

  3. This time of year is fabulous! I love all your wildflower photos and your last picture with those wonderful coulds is a smasher!

  4. How fun to be out and about and see such wonderful countryside! I love that red barn with the stone foundation.. what a vintage treasure! I wish we had a stone foundation on ours! It was informative to see you identify the flowers.. the one that I think you mis-identified is the one you thought might be a dogwood.. there are too many flowers on those stems to be one. Great flowers you found - and a new friend! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  5. I enjoyed taking this walk with you. What a lovely part of the world!

  6. You make the most beautiful photos on your rides. I love that barn with the patriotic quilt. So apropos for this weekend. :-)

  7. Such lovely colourful shots of the beautiful and flowery month of May - even goslings and their parents too! For some reason, I love the last two shots: the barn quilt (unusual name) and the scudding clouds! A perfect time for your bike rides!

  8. Such lovely photos you have taken. Oh yes, May is one of the most beautiful months of the year. I love this spring green and all the flowers that come up so soft. Your rides seem to be an overwhelming joy. Have fun! Viola

  9. Lovely rides, I bet that was fun having company for some of the way! I think your season must have taken-off faster than ours, we still feel very behind usual. Juliex

  10. I'm impressed with the variety of wildflowers you have. We always take a wildflower book to England with us and try to find as many different one as we can.
    As to my foot, I have a heel spur and plantar fasciitis so it's going to be a long slog.

  11. Oh we are so on the same weather page in my town north of Chicago. I WANT warmth and humidity. I swear I will not complain. My irises are blooming. My roses are budding. Fireman and I saw some pretty wildflowers but not en masse, while on our trail ride last week.
    I do think of Tabulah turtle when I'm riding.....

  12. Dear Sue, I cannot begin to tell you how much I have loved every single photo in this post. What a glorious time I have had along with you and the incredible beauty that surrounds you. What you have shared with us is just magic. have so brightened my day. I hope that you believe that because it is truly true. It is, in fact, a banquet of such beauty..all that Mother Nature offers us each and every season. Oh, it makes my heart sing.
    xoxo, Ellen.

  13. Beautiful flowers pictures. Dandelions are a favourite of bees so don't cut them down!

  14. It's always a pleasure to come riding with you Sue, your knowledge of wild flowers is very impressive and your photo's are lovely. How nice to meet and chat with a fellow cyclist. I'm looking forward to the next trip. :)

  15. Six petals on the blue-eyed grass... hmmm, thank you for the inspiration!

    That truly was a lovely ride, both with scenery and with unexpected kindred soul! We should all be so lucky!!!

  16. Fabulous post Sue. I was particularly taken with the new to you wildflowers, and the cows, what sweet face hey have.

  17. What wonderful flowers, thank you for posting them. x


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