Muhlenbergia capillaris

A Blursday Walk in the Woods

A cold front blew through between Tuesday night and Wednesday, bringing bright, breezy fall weather. Today it is eleven kinds of windy. The human female, undeterred by the sheer tonnage of ragweed and sumpweed pollen in the air, has dragged us all out to Lick Creek Park to take advantage of the non-sweltering weather.

With all of this wind, the likelihood of good plant photographs in focus is small, but the humans both have their cameras with them anyhow. Let the blurry photos commence!

The pink muhly grass by the nature center is whipping about in a very graceful manner.

The one the human female has planted in front of the house isn’t as big or as pink, but it is trying.

We are seeing quite a bit of the formerly-a-mystery white bidens in the Great Desolation. We managed to catch some of it in focus.

The asters not so much.

While the human female is bigger than she should be, she is still not large enough to make an effective windbreak to keep the plants still so that the male can photograph them. Hence, images like this weirdly-out-of-season black-eyed susan:

Real prize-winner, that one.

The human female says she hasn’t been down Raccoon Run trail in a few years, so that’s where we’re going. It appears to have been widened, but it’s still rather pretty. There are a fair number of large hickories and a lot of frostweed in flower.

The sun is shining though the sumac leaves.

There are some unusual plants along this trail. I didn’t recognize this one at first,

and I didn’t believe her when the human female said it was a palm tree. Palms? In the forest? But yes, this is the native sabal palmetto, and this is about as big as they get.

The stem or trunk is underground. Up close, I can see that the leaves really are pleated like a paper fan.

Some of the trees down here in the bottomland are just festooned with this gray stuff.

The human female says it is an epiphytic bromeliad that likes to live on trees so it can be up in the sun and humid air, which sounds plausible. She also says it is a relative of pineapple and has little green flowers, which sounds entirely bogus. (I never believe more than half of what she says, anyway.)

Shhh! Sigyn, did you hear that? It sounded like a tiny little shriek. There it is again! It’s coming from that thick vegetation right over there. The human female says it’s a small frog in distress. Given that the human male just saw the back half of a snake disappear into the same clump of foliage, I suspect what we’re hearing is the batrachian version of, “Oh, no! Don’t eat me! Help!”, but I’m just going to tell Sigyn that it’s two local creatures meeting for lunch, which is perfectly true.

Another wind-blurred photo:

They look like little yellow tomatoes and are the fruit of one of the native nightshades. Hmm. Salad for dinner some time this week, I think. The human female had better not lose another of my helmets out here in the woods or she will find some in her serving.

Unfortunately, there is an awful lot of non-native vegetation in this part of the park as well. Chinaberry, ligustrum, Japanese honeysuckle, and Chinese tallow tree are the main ne’er-do-wells. The human female is snapping saplings and hauling down vines and resolving to come out again with a) help, b) a saw, c) clippers, d) some brush killer for painting stumps, and e) some napalm. Okay, that last was my addition to the game plan, but you must admit, it sounds like fun!

What have you discovered over there, my love?

It’s like she has a little baldacchino! (You can look that up later.)

Looks like we are headed back to the vehicle now, having made the complete loop–without, I point out, seeing a single raccoon. I feel cheated and shall be complaining to the management at the first opportunity.

Odin’s Eyepatch! The human female just fell down! One minute she was walking and the next, BOOM! I don’t know if she rolled an ankle or if a rock moved under her foot, but here she is, splat on the trail with her limbs waving like a cockroach in its death throes. The male is helping her up, and I don’t see blood (though I bet that knee is skinned under those jeans), so presumably she is mostly all right. Who knows? It might just be a pitiful bid for attention. Let us continue!

Hold! There is something odd in the path up ahead (and I am not talking about the toddler making a puddle, though that is outside the normal realm of goings-on). Sigyn, do you see?

I do hope he’s not on his way to have lunch with his cousin down on the loop trail. If he is, I fear he shall find his kinsman…unavailable.

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A Most Blustery Fall Ramble

It is definitely autumn in this part of Midgard now.  It’s about time!   After six months of unrelenting summer, we can all use a break, even if the stupid trees won’t change color until next month, of at all.

The days are alternating mild and sunny with cold and windy.  The local botany nerds have chosen one of the cold and windy ones for their annual training of the new nerds.   The human female is going to lead the field trip, and she is bundled up in so many layers (turtleneck sweater, wool sweater, wood military uniform shirt, puffy coat, hat, gloves) that she resembles nothing so much as a cross between a walking laundry basket and a well-fed tick.  This is all fine with me, as the more layers between the human female and my having to look at her, the better.

I, of course, am immune to cold and have put a protection spell around my beloved so that she is comfortably toasty no matter how the wind blows.

So here we are at the local wilderness park, site of many former adventures.  Sigyn is admiring the fluffy pink muhly grass in front of the visitors’ center.

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I think pink is a stupid color for grasses.

It is much too windy to try to get good photos of plants.

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Hold.  Still. You. Irritating.  Little.  Shrub.   Grr.  Enjoy your blurry St. Andrew’s cross, mortals.

This beautyberry has much lighter fruit than all of its cousins.  More pink!  Since when is pink a fall color?

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It is only in focus because the human female is holding it still.  Huh. I guess she’s good for something after all.

Sigyn has discovered that breezy days make for the best dangling.

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She says this willow oak is better than anything at an amusement park.  Watching her go uuuuup and dooooown, uuuup and doooown is making me a little queasy.  Hold tight, my love!  I would not want you to tumble from your precarious perch!

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Back to the Park! (Sigyn Speaks)

The human female and I were talking the other day, about how it’s been so long since we went out to the park in the woods.  So today we’re going!

We have a little time before the tour group she’s leading shows up.  Come on, Loki, let’s look at the flowers around the Nature Center.  I can see from the parking lot that there are a lot of colorful things blooming!

This is the butterfly garden.

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I really like this fluffy blue stuff.

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I don’t think Loki is as impressed with it as I am.

Wow!  All the pink behind me is a native grass, Pink Muhly.  Isn’t it wonderful?

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The human female planted some in our front flower bed.  Sadly, Loki got to it, and it isn’t nearly this pretty.

Most people think Wooly Croton is a weed,

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but it’s fuzzy, and actually a nice place to sit.

This plant is its relative–an they’re both relatives of Poinsettias!

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If you mentally color some of these leaves bright red, you can see the resemblance.

Now these Pentas are good and red!  They’re not native, so I sort of wish the city hadn’t planted them, but the butterflies do like them.

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And, oh!  I wish you could smell this one!  It’s Mexican marigold and it smells like sweet licorice!

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Even if we don’t find many wildflowers in the woods today, just seeing all of this near the Center has been a real treat!

: )

Hide and Seek in the Garden (Sigyn Speaks)

Every now and then I can get Loki to play a game with me.  Today is a very pretty day, so we are out in the garden playing hide and seek.  It’s my turn to hide.

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The color’s not a bad match, but I feel a little exposed.

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Likewise these teeny oak leaves.  They’re a good match for my favorite outfit, but I still feel really visible.

I could hide under a lyre-leaf sage leaf.  They have pretty burgundy markings.

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But I get distracted by their pretty flowers.

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If I hang about admiring them, Loki is sure to find me!  I could hide in the vetch, but the blue-purple clashes rather dreadfully with my clothes.

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Oh, I know!  I’ll scrunch down here in the wood sorrel.

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Well, phoo.  Loki found me right away!  I bet he’s using magic, which is not exactly fair.  All right, Loki, you hide and I’ll find you.  One, two, three, four, five, six…

He’s not under the boxwood, or hiding in the oak leaf mulch.  Wait. What is that in the ornamental grass the human female planted?

Found you!

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Don’t pout, Loki.  It was a good thought.  Give this a couple of months to fill out, and it’ll be a wonderful hiding place.

: )

A January Afternoon Walk, Part I: It’s Far Too Green

Sigyn and the human female are feeling a little house-bound, so I’ve donned my old clothes so that we can all go for a walk in the woods.  (Or, rather, they’re walking and I’m being dragged.)

Wait–what month is this?  January, correct?  And Midgard hasn’t toppled over to put us in the Southern Hemisphere, has it?  No?  Then why is everything so green?

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It has been a most atypical year, weather-wise.  All of this clover and grass is comfy and good to sit in, but much more appropriate for late February or March!  And can we move on?  The sun is right in my eyes.

Sigyn has found some flowers.  Are they early too?

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Nope.  This is bitterweed.  It is supposed to flower in the fall, but in the past couple of years there have been stragglers blooming all through the winter and random individuals all spring and summer as well.  Hogun’s topknot, it is sunny today!

Ah, shade!  And this yaupon holly looks about right for the time of year.  It stays green all year, and the human female said once that the berries will stay on until the migrating birds in the spring swoop in and gobble them all up.

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You’ll pardon me if I don’t try one.  I know better.

This deciduous holly is a little more blatant in offering up its fruity goodness.  No leaves to get in the way.

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(Augh!  The low sun is right my face again.  Curse these winter afternoons!)

We are also seeing remnants of last autumn’s flora.  This verbena is just hairy enough to have a halo when back-lit.

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And the pink muhly grass still has a little color.

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Whew!  We’ve walked over half the park.  Let’s rest a bit and then continue…

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