dangling

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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Whirlwind Getaway, Day 2, Part One: Do We *Really* Want to Be Outdoors?

Ugh.  No relief from the heat.  If anything, it is hotter than yesterday.  Large City to the North is not friendly to Frost Giants.  The humans have no consideration for me, though, so we are off.  Time to get going!  Things to do!  People to see!  Double ugh.

But first:  breakfast!  The human female’s preoccupation with waffles— and difficulty with them—has been documented here before, from her slap-dash approach to toppings  to her inability to fill a waffle iron completely.  She is at it again.  The inn at which we are staying has two waffle irons, one of which makes the standard round waffle at which she fails so spectacularly, and another which produces conjoined quadruplet wafflettes.  The female, self-righteously believing she is saving a few calories, has opted to only make two.  And eat them plain.  They don’t taste as nice that way, but at least I’m not forced to look at one of her Jackson-Pollock masterpieces.

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Our main activity for today is a visit to the Botanical Gardens.  I hear they are very fine, especially one sub-garden which has been groomed in the style of a garden from the other side of this realm.  We shall begin here.

The human male, who has lived in foreign parts, says this is a lantern.  I do not see how that can be correct, as there is no bulb and no cord.  Nor is there a reservoir for kerosene or other combustible.  Obviously it is a rustic little rain shelter, for use should inclement weather arise.   Or possibly, a very fancy bus stop.  Luckily, we have no need of either today.

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There is a series of pools and falls running through the garden.  The human female has purchased some fish food to feel the finny denizens of the pools.

But I have let these most persistent waterfowl know that breakfast is served.

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The fish are coming, but the ducks are faster, so likely the fishies will go hungry.

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Once the ducks are distracted elsewhere, the feeding frenzy can begin.  Don’t get too close to the edge, Sigyn!  One of those gaping mouths could suck you right in!

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It is not only ducks and carp who appreciate a good fish kibble.

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Apparently, there is a lot of eating going on here today, because down by the big pool, there’s a big blue heron standing perfectly still, just waiting for a bite-sized carp to get a little too close…

The landscape materials here are very fine.  This boardwalk through a bamboo thicket is both decorative and sturdy.

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The bamboo itself is eminently suitable for dangling.

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Sigyn, should you be doing that so soon after breakfast?

The human female has given up trying to count the number of maple varieties represented here.  Sigyn, naturally, prefers the ones that are red all year round.

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Another rain shelter.  This would make a cute little summer house, don’t you think, Sigyn?

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There is not much blooming at this time, but trust my sweetie to make a beeline right for the showiest blossom.

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The bluey-purply ones are nice too.  They look like little bells.  Or, if you are Sigyn, big bells.

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While Sigyn and the human female are botanizing and the male is taking photographs, I can explore a bit on my own for a while.

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Neener neener neener.

Sigyn has rejoined me and we are completing our circuit of the garden.  There is some very decorative bamboo fencing.  Mortals, why cannot we have this at home?

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The gift shop is apparently partially a nursery.  It sells these quaint little trees.

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As well as the tiny little buildings to put next to them to give them  a sense of scale.  (Actually, rather than making the miniature trees look big, the tiny houses just make Sigyn look ENORMOUS!

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All of our exploring and marveling at the beauties of nature, as well as our reading about the symbolism of the objects in this garden, have left me with just one burning question:

Sigyn, if I bought you this raccoon sake set, would you use it?

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What is is they say in this realm?  “Stay tuned, kiddies.  Lots more to come!”

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