....We cannot make bargains for blisses,
Nor catch them like fishes in nets;
And sometimes the thing our life misses
Helps more than the thing which it gets.
For good lieth not in pursuing,
Nor gaining of great nor of small,
But just in the doing, and doing
As we would be done by, is all....
(from "Nobility" by Alice Cary, 1820-1871)
By far my favorite amenity of all the recreational facilities at Rend Lake, the bike trail offers miles of paved surface for bicyclists as well as for us slower moving bipeds.
There are always curiosities to be discovered along the trail, some etched in place for all time (or until someone fills them in), like these tracks left in wet concrete by one of the many deer populating the area,
or left behind at the side of the trail, most likely by a large tractor disking up a nearby field. At first we thought that an animal or pack of animals had attacked the fawn, but a predator would not have left the carcass out in the open, neatly deposited next to the trail, and certainly would not have torn the head and front legs off the body. We noted some tractor tire tracks and a bloody trail leading up to where the body was found and surmised that the fawn was too frightened to run away from the tractor and got caught underneath where the blades did their deadly work. Yesterday evening when we walked by this same spot, the body was gone and so was any blood stain from the concrete surface of the trail.
This vine has always been a familiar sight in southern Illinois forests but is now becoming popular in a more domesticated version.
The wild version of the grapevine threatens the health of many mature trees like this one. The vines grow up the tree, using it for support but can end up weakening it by girdling the tree, damaging its bark, and essentially choking or starving it to death.
On a healthier note, we found some Hibiscus moscheutos growing near the disked field at the edge of the trail.
Some sort of beetles were enjoying a sip of dew on the flower.
This plant belongs to the family of mallows in the order Malvaceae. The mallows have been used extensively in the past for their healing and softening properties.
After lunch we drove a bit farther south on I-57 and then a little east on I-24 to visit Ferne Clyffe once again. We had walked about four miles in the morning so we decided to just take a leisurely stroll around the lake instead of tackling the trails in the cliffs surrounding it. Here I found another swamp-loving plant, marsh milkweed, or Asclepias incarnata. The Latin name suggests the legendary healer appearing in the flesh.
The monarch butterflies seem to think this plant is something special. I can tell you the smell was heavenly.
The lake from this vantage point, halfway around it, looks like silver.
Bald cypress trees adorn this side of the lake, seen from about three-quarters of the way around it. I did see a few knees sticking up close to the water but was afraid to get close enough for a photo. We could see tracks left there by snakes.
I think this columnar, flower-bearing stem belongs to a fine specimen of Lamb's ear or Stachys. The leaves are soft and silvery and supposedly distasteful to deer.
Not too many miles from Ferne Clyffe, Bella Terra Winery lives up to its name which means "beautiful land."
The vines here, a domesticated version of the ones we saw at Rend Lake, appear to be well-tended and healthy. They dominate the landscape which appeared to be pasture at one time. The cattle and horses seem to have done their work exceedingly well, spreading fertilizer for the new kid on the block, wine grapes.
I'm not sure what this particular variety is called, but my husband grabbed a small cluster as we were walking to the car and pronounced them to be quite sweet and tasty.
After leaving Bella Terra, we saw a sign for another winery close by, a fairly new one by the looks of it.
Windy Hill Winery might be a little short on class but has its own charms.
We found a quiet place to sit on the covered front porch and watch dozens of hummingbirds feeding on sugar water. I actually found this spot more relaxing than the other winery which hosted a DJ with his karaoke machine. It was kind of funny, though, watching the performers there stumble up to the microphone, full wine glasses in hand. Their first attempts sounded fairly good, but they sounded more and more off-key as they consumed bottle after bottle of the tasty stuff. I think they were probably more accustomed to drinking large quantities of beer. The wine goes down pretty smooth, but it can sure sneak up on you.
These hummers were a bit shy when we first sat down but got used to us and the camera after just a few minutes. I guess their appetite overruled their fear.
My beloved puts up with a lot of...well, you know, "fertilizer" from me. He never lets the wine or me sneak up on him.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
--Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1855-1919--