floral millinery

Loki in London, Day 3: Sigyn Hits the Motherlode

Sigyn, are you ready?  Today we are going to Kew, one of the biggest and best botanical gardens in the world.  If you can’t find something you like there, you aren’t trying.  It’s a long Tube/aboveground train ride from Kensington, but it will be worth it!

….

Sigyn is beside herself.  She doesn’t know what to look at first!  Hence the giddy dangling.

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Some flowers are good for Sigyn to wear.

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But I think this one is trying to wear Sigyn.

paulownia

She didn’t pick this camellia. She found it on the path, honest!  (Would I lie?)

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We are moving incredibly slowly. The human female has to read all the name tags, and Sigyn has to sniff everything.  The human male is taking photo after photo.

Just when I think I have encountered the extremes of human folly, I am smacked anew between the eyes by their incomprehensible thought processes.  Look at this ruined arch:

arch

It was built that way.  Humans have been known to think that crumbly things are more aesthetically interesting than intact architecture, hence the made-to-order derelict masonry.  Except it was made on the cheap and not taken care of, so now it’s more crumbly than they wanted.  Idiots.

Augh!  Female squeeing!  This part of the Garden is a bit like a wild wood and some meadows, and apparently it is the season for bluebells.  The human female is actually skipping and … twirling.  What a looney.  Sigyn is smitten as well.

bluebells

Violets.  More squeeing.

Violets

(Later, after squeeing has stopped…)  My beloved is not afraid of heights.  Seems there a walkway that winds around through the tops of some very large trees, affording a “stupendous view,” and she wants to go.  Do we HAVE to?

Apparently yes.  Very well, I will accompany you, but you can’t make me look over the edge.  I try to avoid situations that might entail falling off high things.  Been there, done that.  No, I do NOT wish to be eye-to-eye with the horse chestnut blossoms.  Please, dearest, come away from that precipitous drop!

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Not looking, not looking, not looking!  I might go nudge the human female, though.  Perchance I can make her drop her camera or her water bottle…

(later)  Safe on the ground at last!  By Idunn’s little apples, I did NOT like that walkway.  Not that I’m afraid of heights, you understand.  I just have little faith in Midgardian construction.  It all felt a bit rickety to me.  Let us move onto something less potentially perilous.

Sigyn, did you know there’s an art gallery in the gardens?  The exhibit today features watercolors of strange and marvelous Amazonian plants.  The humans, well aware that every purchased ounce is going to have to be hauled  home, have nonetheless bought the book.

kew-art-catalog

I am buying Sigyn a nice, big print.  Or, rather, not buying but taking, but let’s not quibble over 80 p.

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Lunch time!  Kew has some very nice eateries.  What have we today?

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The humans are splitting a chicken pie and some salad.  Sigyn has opted for the lemon poppyseed cake.  Sigh.  I love her dearly, but a Sigyn with a sugar rush let loose among flowers?  I shall be very busy all afternoon keeping tabs on my buzzy little hummingbird.

(later.)  Behold, Sigyn!  A whole rock garden full of diminutive plants with lovely blossoms.  Flit to your heart’s content!

I know she will tow me around, reading all the signs to me and expecting me to be just as enthusiastic.  Yes, sweetie.  That is a good shade of yellow.

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Eventually, though, I will probably become bored.  My brain is full. May I be excused?

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Sigyn, I’m just going to rest here.  You look around and then come tell me which ones are your favorites.

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Sigyn has been gone a long time.  I had better go in search of her…  What have you found, my love?

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Poofy and blue–I see them.  Actually, it is what I do not see that is worrisome.  The human female is nowhere in sight.  Not that I miss her company, but I think she has forgotten us!  She has wandered off!  I…I’m not sure I know my way back to the Tube station…  Norns’ nighties, this is not good.  Don’t panic, Sigyn, I’ll think of something…

(somewhat later)  Whew!  The human male has found us. I am grateful to him, but be assured I am going to make the human female pay for her lapse…

We are running out of day.  I shall permit one last stop in the Alpine House, and that is it.  I must draw the line somewhere.

alpinehouse

(later…)  On the way back to the hotel, the humans have stopped at a very exclusive auction house.

Christies

What are we doing here?  I think the mortals are pretending they could AFFORD something in tomorrow’s sale.  As if.  Still, this IS a very beautiful painting.  Looks like it has been sold repeatedly.  Oooo.  Maybe it’s CURSED.  Maybe I will buy it for the human female.  It’s huge, though.  Where would she put it?

(later.)  We walked for miles and miles and MILES today. I am ready for a good dinner and not just some take-away sandwich.  Yes, it is pricey to eat out in London, but may I remind you mortals that you ABANDONED US?!   I’d say someone owes two other someones a very fine meal.

There is an Indian restaurant around the corner and up the next street from the hotel.  This will do.  The humans have ordered some flat things as a starter.

papadum

How are we meant to eat these?  Oh, I see.  Look, Sigyn!  Sauces and toppings–

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Beware the chunky orange one.  It even *smells* hot.  But not as lethal as what I want to order for the human female.

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Careful, dearest!  The waiter has just delivered a warming tray and it is HOT.

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Arrgh.  The human female has cancelled the naga chicken. She has requested chicken tikka isntead.  How BORING.

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Well, even I must admit that was a delicious meal, down to the little candy fennel seedy bits at the end.

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I am somewhat mollified.  However, NOTHING can excuse the human female’s behavior today, so from here on out, I shall ensure that each pair of shoes she brought hurts worse than the last.  In a day or two, she should be three-quarters crippled!

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Proof That it *IS* Possible

The lawn and garden are already showing signs of flagging, in the wake of recent torrential rains and the human female’s neglect.  Cue the usual whining about the poor soil, etc.  Therefore, on today’s walk about the neighborhood, I am taking pains in pointing out to the human female all the yards and gardens that demonstrate just what is possible and just how badly she is failing.

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See, Sigyn, someone has managed to grow some very nice blue flowers.  Why don’t we have these?  Laziness, that’s all it is.

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Ooh, Sigyn, doesn’t this plant feel funny?  It’s all rubbery!  Surely something made of rubber should be indestructible enough that even she can’t kill it?  The little starry flowers are just a bonus.

Sigyn is especially enamoured of this brightly-flowered shrub, and no wonder why!

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It would provide some much-needed beauty to our yard.

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As well as a steady supply of very fine hats.

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Dragged Into the Field Yet Again

The human female has returned to the scene of one of her crimes.   You may recall that back in October, she went to a field day in a neighboring county, for which she was given a gift she didn’t deserve, which is just the same as stealing.  The nature folks invited her back out to their property again today.  Sigyn and I have come along to see what the spring flora is doing.

It’s making flowers, that’s what it’s doing!  Before we even left the sandy yard around the house, we found these astonishing blossoms.

trads

Um, is that the proper color?  I seem to remember that these should be BLUE.  There are also some white ones, some purple ones, and some lavender ones.  I wish I could say that I used my magic to make them different and more interesting, but I can’t take the credit.  Blame the human female.  When she’s around things often go wrong, even when I’m NOT involved.

(That’s not to say I haven’t contributed to today’s fun.  I knocked the human female’s hat out of her arms as she was loading all her clobber into the car this morning, so she arrived without it.  She looks even worse than usual in a borrowed hat.)

Onward!  It is a very pleasant day, not too hot, and not too bright to photograph white flowers.

Viburnum

Oh, do be careful, dearest!  Not only do you look precariously perched, but this Rusty Blackhaw is drawing bees!  While you’re hanging there, note the thick growth of reddish-brown hairs on the undersides of the leafstalks.  The human female says that’s how this plant got its name.

These blackberry blossoms show up nicely too.

Rubus

This is not the usual local dewberry. No, this one is more upright.  Ow! But no less prickly!  Ow! Anyone who aspires to pie is going to have to offer a blood sacrifice.  Blast it!  My only consolation is that the human female is getting similarly shredded.

Perhaps we could turn to this tree for relief.  It’s a little known fact that willows grow in all nine realms (or did grow–Jotunheim and Svartalfheim have been just a tad ruined), and on each of them the bark is used as a relief for pain.

Salix

Sigyn, if you want to gather some of the thin, whippy branches, I will help you make baskets later.  It’s good for that, too.

Ehehehehehe!  The human brought her garish red rubber boots just so she could poke around in any wet spots.  Such as the fine pond. Now, I’m not saying whether I “did” or “did not” poke a hole in her right boot, but here is a hint: she is currently doing the AckIhaveawetsock Dance.  Whatever may be offshore is going to be left unmolested.

(later)

FINALLY! After a morning of Traipsing About, it is time to head back to the house with its wine and cheese capacious veranda so we can peer at the samples we’ve collected and identify the ones the human female wasn’t sure of.

Such as this Fuzzy Phacelia.  (No, really!  That’s what the book says is its actual name– Fuzzy Phacelia!)  Definitely not to be confused with #2., Smooth Phacelia…

Phacelia

Ehehehe!  Sigyn, are you sure it isn’t Scallopy Hatweed?

Idunn’s little green apples!  This one is called Rare Loco Milkvetch!

Astragalus

You can tell the human female wrote this book–she made up the names, I just know she did!  They sound even better if you read them out loud with a sideshow barker’s voice:  “Step right up, ladies and gents, and see the Rare Loco Milkvetch!  Not too close there, sonny boy, it’s been known to bite when cornered!”

Um, I don’t generally babble.  I think I may have gotten too much sun.  Sigyn, gather up your flower hat and let’s shoo the human female towards the car and head home.

With one more stop so my sweetie can study the trees, of course.

dogwood

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A Guide to the Campus Flora, Part III: Sigyn’s Other Favorite Color

I am still being dragged around, looking at the campus flora.  This next one is an attractive plant.  The human female hasn’t seen it before and thinks it might be something in the Primrose family.

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Sigyn doesn’t care about its taxonomic placement, so long as the flowers fit on her pretty little head.  Most becoming!

She can’t wear these little fruits, but they’re the same cheerful shade.

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No, Sigyn, I don’t think you should eat them.  They may look like tiny lemons, but but I doubt they taste like them.  Great Frigga’s hairpins!  The human female says they’re toxic! Definitely do not eat them!  (But maybe I will make the human female some special “lemonade”…)

And there’s this.  The human female used to have some in her garden, but she killed it.  She does that.  A lot.  (For someone who claims to be a botanist, she has a surprisingly brown thumb.)

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Oh, Sigyn take a whiff of this one!  Mmmmm.  It smells just like pansies!

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The human female had one of these plants, too, once upon a time.  I’m sensing a trend here.

Make that two trends.

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Another Day, Another Outcrop

It would seem that the human female has not had enough of sun, sand, and scrambling about over rocks looking at planty things.  She and Sigyn got up at the merest whimper of dawn this morning to go to a “field day” in the next county over.  I had heard the Midgardian expression “having a field day” before, but I had never understood the context.  Apparently, it means, “gathering the nature nerds together to tromp all over the countryside, poking at things.” I can think of better ways to spend a day, but someone has to make sure the human female gets Sigyn home safely, so here I am, en route to a place called “Sugarloaf.”  I can’t imagine what sort of place it could be–on Asgard, bread comes in loaves and sugar comes on sticky buns.  Perhaps there will be bakery snacks where we are going?

We have arrived.  It turns out that Sugarloaf is a mountain–or what passes for a mountain in this part of Midgard.  Sugar used to be molded into tall, pointy loaves for shipping, hence the name.  Our path begins at the bridge over the nearby Little River.

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It is a very slow, glassy river. With the drought, it is down by a good number of feet.  The human female suggested I step up on the railing for a better view, but fool me once…

Down near where the cars have been parked and the field trip folks are gathering and gearing up, Sigyn has found some woolly croton.  Sweetie, it’s coolish right now, so I can understand wanting a warm hat, but the afternoon is supposed to be warm, so I don’t think you will want it for long.

croton

You can’t tell from the above photo, but I took the human female’s hand lens our of her little pack before we left home.  She’s going to want that later.

The human female is definitely getting too old for this.  I am listening to her huff and puff, hauling herself up the side of this sandstone monolith, and wondering if she’s going to make it at all, and it’s not that far.  Too many late nights, too many cookies.

We have reached the summit, or what is left of it.  This is one enormous chunk of rock.  Oooo. What’s the green stuff?

lichen

Ah.  A lichen.  Look–there are gray ones, too.  Now the plant nerds on this trip are happy, because green things.  (But technically, lichens aren’t plants.)

A geologist and historian are now lecturing about the geological and historical significance of this site.  I’m am half listening to the rock expert go on about layers and Oligocene marine sediments and ferret oxides (what do weasels have to do with reddish rocks?!)  Mostly I am enjoying the view, which is actually rather nice.

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Look–away out there, Sigyn.  You can see the bridge.  Wow.  You don’t realize how FLAT this part of Midgard is until you get up someplace like this and can see there is not. one. single. hill. anywhere within a million kilometers.

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Nor any fall color.  Well, all right.  I suppose tan is a color.

Oh, hey–this is getting interesting.  The historian is telling us about Native Americans and Spanish explorers and hidden gold and murders!  Treasure hunters blew the top off this mountain, looking for the gold, but no one ever found it.  That settles it.  At the earliest opportunity, I am coming back.  With my magic, I bet I could find it in no time.  I shall have to study the topographical maps and examine the rocks most thoroughly.

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Do you see anything sparkly, Sigyn?

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While We Are at Rudder

We are back near Rudder Tower to have a proper look-around.  Probably the most famous landmark is the fountain.

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Do not ask me why it is blue when everything else on the campus is maroon. That is one of the Great Mysteries of the Age.  My working theory is that the blue disguises all the dog slobber in there from frisbee-fetching canines. (It is very refreshing on a hot day.)  It used to be a tradition to throw people into the fountain on their birthdays.  The human female, in her friendless undergraduate days, was forced to throw herself in.

The Rudder Tower and Student Center Complex includes a number of nice places to sit and read or eat a snack.  This one has some nice blooming trees that are just about finished. Sigyn likes the crepemyrtle especially.

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The crinkly petals make the flowers very fluffy.

And very fashionable!

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