Adventures

Nerds in the Woods 2019, Part III: Sometimes Nature is Soft and Sometimes It is Sad and Sometimes it Slithers

I have grown bored of crayons.  Sigyn, don’t you want to walk around and see what the other booths have on offer?  After all, it might be educational

The Bird Team has a charming display of nests and eggs.

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No, Sigyn, I do not think these will hatch.

There is also a clever bird game. One uses an electric stylus to touch the metal stud of a bird photo and then the stud next to its name, the object being to correctly identify the winged things and get a colored light, not a buzzer.

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Sigyn, of course, has zeroed in on the bright red cardinal, a bird she knows very well.  I have correctly identified the mockingbird, an avian after my own heart.  They really are superb mimics!  I have hopes of training the ones in our home neighborhood to say, “You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny!” whenever the human female appears and to repeat, “Thor is a poophead,” at intervals in between.

The Mammal table lets one trace animal tracks and color them in.  I am reminded of the time I put a raccoon under the hood of the human female’s car.  That was one of my best pranks!  I still laugh every time I think about it.

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Raccoons have such cute feet.  They look like little baby hands.  They have handsome fur as well.

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No, Sigyn, please do not cry!  Of course this fellow was not killed for his skin!  Nor was it taken from his body after his spirit went to join his ancestors in Procyanid Valhalla.  It, um, was just really hot one day and he took it off to cool down and, erm, go swimming.  He…forgot where he put it, yes, that’s just what he did, and he went and bought himself a new one.  So you see, it is absolutely not tragic and you can just go ahead and enjoy petting it.

(Good thing I think quickly and have a silver tongue, else my beloved would be most distressed.)

Let us proceed to the next table.  I have heard that they have live reptiles–and you know I cannot resist a good snake!

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And that is a VERY good snake!  Come to Loki, you sleek black beauty!  The human female can have her plants and Sigyn her crayons and tin buses.  THIS is what Nerds in the Woods is all about!

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Nerds in the Woods 2019, Part II: Scribbles in the Shade

My sweetie would wander about all day, given the chance, but she says she promised to help with the children’s activities at the Native Plant Society of Texas table.

Besides, although the day is fair and breezy, it is more than a little warm in the sun, and some shade would be quite welcome.  (My helmet is glorious, but it is heavy and heats up something dreadful.)

The first order of business is to check out the art supplies.  My sweetie has a distinct fondness for crayons. She enjoys both coloring with them and sorting them out into waxy rainbows.

And, apparently, she also has a thing for bus-shaped art supply caddies. 

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She is completely enthralled by its tinny resemblance to the real thing.

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Tape, hole punch, pencil sharpener…  I just want to know what’s in the engine compartment, which snaps off as its own little tin.

The tyke-friendly art project on offer this year is a little book of leaf rubbings.  Sigyn and I have done these before, but only always single sheets, never a whole book.  I very much doubt that pint-sized mortals will have the patience to complete more than one, but it might be amusing to play with the components.

The process is best accomplished with more than a modicum of help from grown-ups.

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As I suspected, the mini-mortals are coloring with more enthusiasm than finesse, and not all of their efforts are “keepers”.  The sample booklet, however, was produced with a little more care.

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Look Sigyn, it’s a post oak–just like the big tree in the back yard at home, the one that did not leaf out this year and which I have suggested to the human female more than once is probably just choosing its moment to fall onto the house

Whoever brought the art supplies (it wasn’t the human female–she showed up with a list of plants, a sign that reads, “Ask a Botanist a Question,” and a lunch) took great pains with the rubber stamps and colored pencils to produce a beautiful cover.

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All most of the children are managing to achieve with the rubber stamps is blackened fingers.  Keep your distance from my sweetie, you filthy younglings!

The adults running the table are binding the books in a manner similar to this.   Ehhehehe!  It is taking the human female many tries to learn to do it correctly, and I suspect the first few she did will were assembled incorrectly and will fall apart before their creators even get them home.

A fine way to represent your organization, woman.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this new group of Plant Nerds doesn’t invite you back again next year…

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Nerds in the Woods 2019, Part I: Poking at Plants

Longtime readers may recall that Sigyn and I have on more than one occasion accompanied the human female to the annual Nerds in the Woods gathering.  This is a one- or two-day event, during which nerdy naturalists seek to catalog all of the various bloomy, flappy, squiggly, crawly and otherwise organic entities in the local Lick Creek Park.

In the Olden Days, the human female used to head up the plant team.  She spared no efforts, traipsing to remote parts of the part to compile her long lists of herbiage, things with (no doubt made-up) names like “daisy fleabane,” pinweed,” “forked blue curls,” and “rosettegrass.”  Several years ago, I tipped the organizers of the event off to just how hard she worked her fellow volunteers and how tedious she is with her constant bragging about how there are “more plants in the park than anything else, blah, blah, blah…”  So they stopped inviting her.  She volunteered to help out.  They unvolunteered her.  Cue moping, which was more tedious than the endless stream of botanical trivialities.

This year, much to my astonishment and dismay, the local chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas asked her to sit in at their table.  Oh, foolish mortals.  You will now never be free of this tiresome limpet!  Remind me to point and laugh later, when you are ready to stuff socks in her mouth to shut her up,  and remind you that you brought it on yourselves. 

Come Sigyn, let us accompany her.  I know that you are capable of strolling through the woods without nattering on, so for your sake, I will subject myself to a car ride with her.  We can always sneak away from her when we get there.

We are now here.  The NPSOT table is plunked down in the middle of a big patch of this:

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Whatever “this” is…  Do you recognize it, my love?

By Idunn’s little apples!  Sigyn says it is heartwing sorrel, a useful plant to know because the leaves are edible.  I would never have guessed.  My sweetie always knows the best things!  She even says she knows of a good recipe for potato-sorrel soup, something involving heavy cream, chicken stock, potatoes, and this little bit of the wild herbiness.  (You know, once chopped up, one bit of greenery looks much like the next.  I wonder if I could make the human female a pottage of lawn clippings and get her to eat it, telling her it was this?  I bet she’d be half a bowl in before she suspected anything amiss…)

Now the human female is wandering away from the table, tallying up the various species in evidence today.  She and Sigyn have zeroed in on this bright pink posy.

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The human female says it’s a prairie gentian.  It’s not very big, but Sigyn is even less big, so she needs a boost to see the yellow markings on the petals.  There are at least seven species in that photo–it’s a good year for wildflowers!

Come my love, let us leave the human female to her clipboard and census-taking.  While she’s peering at grasses and sedges, let us make our escape.  See–over there?  The electric blue of your favorite, spiderwort.

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The camera scarcely does them justice!

And it would not be spring without the annual Sigyn-admiring-the-scarlet-pimpernel picture.

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Sigyn is making happy squeaky noises at the minuscule yellow Sisyrinchium with the maroon eye-ring too.  She likes the flowers that are “Sigyn-sized.”  Be careful, though, dearest, as some dog-walkers have not heeded the injunction about cleaning up after their pets.  There are fire ants about, as well.

Ah.  No fire ants and no doggie “presents” up here in this juniper tree.  No, nothing but shade and sunshine and a nice breeze and some curious blue-gray berries.

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Yes, dearest, I know they’re not really berries.  They’re “fleshy female cones, each with one to four seeds and a covering of grayish wax. They have traditionally been used to season meat, especially game, and some kinds provide the flavoring for gin.”

What?  I’m not allowed to know botanical facts?  You wound me!  I am a man of many talents and much knowledge!

Also, the human female leaves her books lying about and sometimes I am really bored.

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Blossoms in the Boonies, Part I: A Veritable Plethora of Posies

After a few sunny days, the local wildflowers have finally decided to muster up the effort to bloom.  Today there is a Wildflower Day at the Boonville Cemetery and Heritage Park just north of here.   Of course, Sigyn and the human female have gotten up early to go participate.  I’m tagging along to make sure no harm befalls my beloved.

The human female is on her own.

There are a lot of humans here today.  Some of them are exploring the furnished, blue-hats encircled pioneer cabin that has been restored on the site:

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There is a group of musicians on the porch, playing old-timey tunes on fiddles and dulcimers and other stringy, jangly instruments.  Sigyn says it’s lovely.  I say it’s not loud enough to drown out the human female’s prattling, so it’s no good.

The organizers have given the human female a table of her own, and she’s put up a sign that says, “Ask a botanist a question.”  People are stopping by to talk about native plants, things to grow in their gardens, names of wildflowers, and other matters of botanical nerdery.

I’m having a good laugh, because the human female’s table is right behind the life-sized statue of some historic personage and she has more than once almost bid him good morning and asked him if he has questions.  

Across from the human female’s little bastion of all things planty, the organizers have set up a children’s area.  It is well-stocked with coloring pages, crayons, watercolors, paper, and minuscule chairs.  There is also a bubble-generating machine.  I have directed the chilly breeze to blow the bubbles into the human female’s face from time to time.

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I can tell from Sigyn’s wistful expression that she really wants to join them.  Dearest, you are so cute and portable that I’m afraid someone would swoop down and carry you off.  The human female has brought some drawing paper and various implements of scribing—can you set up here at the table with her?

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See?  The mortal has already begun to doodle a portrait of something she calls yellow star grass.

Oh, you want to draw the tiny corn salad?

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I’m sure she’d give you some paper.

You can probably share her colored pencils as well.  How did the human female’s drawing come out?

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A little stiff, but she managed to get the yellow and green on the right parts of the plant, so I’ll give her that.

By Volstagg’s mighty embonpoint!  The organizers have organized some lunch.

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Let’s see… Mini sandwiches, pickle slices, chips, and a cookie.  It’s Lent, Sigyn, so you and I can remove the temptation of that cookie straightaway…

Munch, munch, munch.

It’s for the good of her soul, after all.

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Big Green Brain Thingies

On a previous visit to the outcrop, Sigyn and I encountered the botanical equivalent of the human female’s brain.

Today, we have encountered the same strangeness again.   There’s a tree near where the car is parked, and it has dropped a number of heavy, green, brain fruits.

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They really do look like brains—or something from another planet (not Asgard–I think I would remember something like this!)

The human female says that there are seeds inside, buried in the sticky gluey fibers.   But what would want to chew through all the brain matter to get to them?  What is the dispersal agent for these things?  They tend to fall off and land right under the tree, which is an inferior reproductive strategy.  (Even I could tell you that.)

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She says that scientists believe that there had to be something at one time that was very large and capable of eating these things without too much chewing, so that the seeds would come out intact in its… um… “poo.”

She says the front runner theory says it was Giant Ground Sloths.  Now she’s just making stuff up.  Odin’s eyepatch, woman!  If you don’t know, just SAY so.

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A Visit To an Old Friend

Last year the human female’s bad trotters kept her off the outcrop that’s home to the rare plant she studies.  But this year, things are a bit better, and we finally have a bit of a break in the rain, so we’re off to see if the Agalinis is blooming this year.

It’s a nice day for a drive.  I can’t wait to get there, because after being cooped up indoors with the human female for ever because of the rain, it’s just more torture to be cooped up in the car with her for another forty minutes!

The landowners aren’t home today, so we’ll have to park on the roadside at the base of the outcrop, walk down to it, and then climb up.  Do you have your sturdy shoes, Sigyn?  I would hate for you to turn your pretty ankle.

Opposite the base of the outcrop is a fence full of yellow camphorweed.

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It smells good in the sun and is not too bad for dangling, though barbed wire and horns do not mix.

On the outcrop, the first thing that has caught my beloved’s eye is this dayflower.  Electric blue really stands out against the greens and tawny browns of the grasses.

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It appears to be a banner year for asters.  There are purple ones and an entire galaxy of white ones.

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The shining goldenrod is right where the human female left it last time she was here.

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Perennials are so predictable.

And,  yes!  Yes, there it is!  The Agalinis navasotensis is in bloom!

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Now that we know it’s in flower, the human female and her colleague will need to get down to business and count* the plants carefully and mapping their positions with a GPS unit. (GPS is Midgardian shorthand for “Gotta Pinpoint Something”).

That sounds like work.  I think I will leave it to them and just relax here on this moss tuffet.

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The Rightful Ruler of Midgard does NOT do fieldwork.

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* Not that I believe for a second that the human female will be of any use once she runs out of fingers

Sooo Many Rescues

We’ve had a nice visit with the new neighbors, but it’s time to be heading home.   It’s beginning to get dark early these days.

Whoa.

Sigyn, are you getting that creepy, “something’s watching me” feeling on the back of your neck?

Sigyn?

Sigyn?

Where did she___?

Munnin’s tailfeathers!  Let go of my beloved THIS INSTANT, you cantankerous, carnivorous corvid!

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Hang on, sweetie!  Loki’s coming!

Whew!  That was much too close for comfort!  All right, Sigyn, let’s just go home and make cocoa–

FENRIR’S FLEACOLLAR!  NOT AGAIN!

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Get your freakish dwarven hands off my beloved, you big lizard, or I’ll Thera your pod into teeny, tiny, bony slivers!

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That is NOT what I meant!

No time for witty insults!   Just…

ZAP!

Are you all right, my love?  I promise, that Saurischian menace will never bother anyone, ever again!

Let’s go home.

I think we need cocoa AND some cookies to go with–

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I give up.

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