my sleep number is "moss"

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.

heterotheca

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.

dayflower

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

aster

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

oligoneuron

Perennials are so predictable.

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

agalinis

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.

moss

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

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All Right, This is New

Aha!  This is better.  There are some interesting plants on this hunk of rock.  Starting with this teeny little moss…

moss

…which I wouldn’t have expected to find on a dry outcrop.

What’s the yellow stuff?

broomweed

The human female calls it “broomweed.”  I have no idea why.  It doesn’t look particularly sweepy. Stupid human names.  Whatever it is, Sigyn looks good in it.

Then there’s this.  Same sort of plant, different color flowers.

aster-outcrop

And more of the same, sort of. This one’s purple.  And bigger.  The human female calls it “skeleton weed.”  I sort of like that name.

lygodesmia

Oh, now the human female is droning on and on about composite heads this and ray florets that and disk florets and chaff the other thing and pappus and I do not care.  Sigyn’s enjoying herself.  That’s all that interests me.

What’s that you have over there, my sweet?

spiranthes

Idunn’s little green apples!  It’s orchids again!  You and the human female seem to have a knack of finding them in the oddest places. First bogs and now outcrops.  Too bad she doesn’t also have knack for in-focus photography.

I will admit:  We have seen some new things today.  The human female is ready to head home–are you?  Yes?  Let’s tramp on back to the car.

What the–?

maclura.jpg

This tree by the car has dropped a number of big green brain thingies all around.  Hey, I think this may be the human female’s brain.  It’s botanical, it’s kinda mushy, and it appears to be rotten toward the bottom.  Don’t touch it, Sigyn!  The stupid could rub off on you.

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A January Afternoon Walk, Part II: More Treasures

I know that I always grumble about having to accompany Sigyn on these botanical walkabouts, but I usually do end up seeing something interesting or even beautiful.  (Sigyn is always the most beautiful sight, but some of the plants are nice too.)

sedgemeadow

It’s good to see the sedge meadow all squishy and wet.  It’s bottomland woods, so it’s meant to be that way.  We’re not wearing rubber boots today, so we will have to admire it from here.  Come summer, it’ll be a marvel of dappled green shade.

Sigyn, what have you found?  A little leftover bit of fall color?

smilax

Be careful, Sigyn–it’s that prickly greenbriar stuff.  Do you know, usually I hate the color orange, but that one leaf is just glowing like a citrine.  Or a citrus.  One of those.

Ah.  This must be the scratch-and-sniff portion of the walk.  The human female is rattling on about glands and aromatic oils and how this wax myrtle is related to bayberry and blah blah blah.  I just know that it smells good.

myrica2

I think that Sigyn is gathering some leaves to make into a sachet.  It’s not too “girly” a scent, so I’ve no complaint.

I may pick a few of these lichens to take home.  Just look at all the wonderful shapes and textures.  Lichens are very underrated.

lichens

Oh, now this is a real treasure.  Sigyn likes the flowers (they’re late), even though they’re a scruffy, dirty white.

frostweed

I’ve actually been reading up on this plant.  Its name–frostweed–intrigued me.  Apparently, if there’s a cold snap while the stems are still green, the stems rupture and the sap oozes out, freezing as it does so.  The result is a delicate ice “flower” that lasts only as long as the freezing temperatures.  You’d have to be in the right place at the right time to see it.  Sigyn, if we ever get a hard freeze this winter, we should come back out to see if we can catch it.  Or if the human would just wander off and look at something else, I could zap this one…

We’ve been hiking for an hour or more, and it is just about time for the human female to think about going home and making us some dinner.  (I am a god; I do not cook.)  But before we trek back to the vehicle, we should take a little rest, and here is the perfect spot.

moss

Better idea:  Human, you heave yourself up, slog back to the car, go home, and cook dinner.   Call me when it’s ready and my sweetie and I will teleport home from  here.

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A Forest Field Trip, Part III: An unexpected interlude

The students have finally finished flailing about in the undergrowth. It is time to hike back to the bus and head home. Sigyn, however, would like a little more time to look at plants. She has heard there is a big Carolina laurel cherry (whatever that is) blooming down by the creek and would like to go and look at it. But back to the staging area we all slog.

Miraculously, we have lost no one. (What’s one Midgardian ape creature more or less? But the instructor seems to want them all back.)

The driver has started the bus, and there is the most appalling squealing coming from the vicinity of the engine. Oh! Now there is a noxious smell of burning rubber to go with the noise. And smoke! Look at all that white smoke! I’m no mechanic, but I would guess that this bus is not going anywhere any time soon. Beneath the access hatch I am now standing on, something important has undoubtedly died a most dramatic and untimely death.

deadbus.jpg

Everyone is on their communication devices, calling for a vehicle capable of towing a bus, trying to find a mechanic who could come look at the vehicle, or advising loved ones that we will be late returning home. Possibly very late.

Ah. The driver has arranged for another bus to come from College Station to get us. That means we have a further 2.5 hours in this lovely woods. We shall all be very, VERY late returning home. Now, I am not saying I am responsible for the breakdown, and I’m not saying I’m not responsible for the breakdown. Let it merely be noted that whatever sweet Sigyn wants, she tends to get. Coincidence? You be the judge.

This unexpected reprieve gives Sigyn and me a chance to do a little more exploring. There are a number of very interesting fallen logs that need investigating. <poke, poke> The wood is very soft–are there termites under the bark there, Sigyn? Any good grubs that would like to snuggle in the human female’s pockets?

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We also have time to look for more wildflowers. Sigyn has cleverly found one of the shy little violets that bloom this time of year. She says the flowers have cat whiskers. I can see that.

violet.jpg

Ahh. This really has been a nice day. The rain has held off (mostly), Sigyn has had her fill of trees and flowers, and I have had the joy of her company in a very pleasant forest. Come, my love, we still have another hour before the replacement bus arrives. Let us rest awhile on this emerald carpet and admire the sway of tree branches against the pearly sky.

mossrest.jpg

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