my sleep number is "moss"

A November Neener, Part II: Teeny Things and a Look Ahead to Spring

The human female is noticeably slower as we wander back along the Neener Path. She says she’s “looking for microflora”, but I’m pretty sure she’s just worn out. Her middle initial is “D” which, if it doesn’t stand for “Decrepit” now, will do so in the not too distant future.

Still, at this pace, we are finding things we missed on the outbound trip. I’m not sure how we missed this slender three-seeded mercury.

It has the fall-color thing down pat and is lit up like a torch. Someone remind me why this isn’t grown as a bedding plant just for its color in November?

Some of the plants flowering today can be considered advance scouts for their spring-flowering bretheren.

Mr. Dandelion says that any plant that can sprout in fall and overwinter will have a head start come warmer weather next year. The chickweed in the photo is employing the same strategy.

You know, the general populace often complain about slanty scientific names and how difficult they are to spell and to remember. I ask you, which is easier to recall for this plant:

“Oriental false hawks-beard” or “Youngia japonica?” It’s not native to this part of Midgard, so it has other, even less-pronounceable names when it’s at home. I know *I* have no idea how to say “黄鹌菜”.

What do you have there, Sigyn?

Little seedlings! The human female says the fluffy one is next year’s burrweed. It won’t be much taller than that and will have spiny little fruits. Hmmm. Sounds like it would be fun to plant in the lawn. No walking barefoot for her!

And what are those heart-shaped leaves?

Unless I miss my guess, those will be violets in spring. That’s one of the few plants I do know. I remember them because Sigyn likes them so much.

But what’s this? (poke poke poke)

It’s green, so I’m assuming it’s a plant, but it’s flat to the ground and doesn’t have a proper stem or leaves, just these flat pieces that branch at their tips. Ah. Miss Know-it-All says it’s a liverwort. She doesn’t have a lot of experience with them since they “aren’t flowering plants” but it might be a species of Riccia. Guess she doesn’t know it all!

I think I know why we are moving so slowly. All of this botanizing is tiring. Sigyn, would you like to rest for a bit? These asters would make a starry bed to flop onto.

Um. Perhaps not. They are a bit pokey. But I think I see something over there that would be much more comfortable.

Ahh… Nothing like getting the heavy helmet off and stretching out on a nice, plush patch of bryophytic velvet. Wake me up if we seem to be actually heading for home…

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A Very Pleasant Blue and Purple Walk

The weather has been, by any measure, absolutely lovely lately. Cool nights, moderate days, sun, and enough showers to keep the flowers watered. And in order to enjoy the flowers, we are out for a walk along the Neener Path.

As I’ve pointed out before, though she likes red and yellow flowers best, such as this Cut-leaved Evening Primrose…

…Sigyn has a keen appreciation for blue and purple as well, so that’s what she wants to look for today.

The Henbit has been up since January.

Sigyn says sometimes you just want to lie in a patch of flowers that look like fuzzy sock puppets.

There is an extraordinary abundance of Lyre-leafed Sage this year. The flowers range from nearly white to medium purple. In spots, it almost looks as if we have bluebell woods.

This specimen has an extra-bendy stem.

Spring is a good time for various entities of a leguminous nature. This is Deer Pea Vetch.

Sigyn thinks the little fruits look “just like tiny snow peas.” She’s not wrong.

Loki Weed–Sorry, Loco Weed looks a lot like vetch to me, but the human female says it doesn’t have any tendrils.

I know this one–Baby Blue Eyes.

The human female is physically incapable of getting one of these in focus.

Sigyn, look! Did you know there were Blue Hats here?

Oh, right. My bad. I forgot. We renamed these …Star-leaved Cobalt Puffs.

Ow! Great Frigga’s Hairpins! Sigyn, my treasure, I love you with all my heart, but your cute little squees are not always easy on the ears. What did you find that has you so excited?

Oh! Violets! The human female says it’s more usual to find these in the woods. I guess there are woods on the other side of the boundary fence and this side of the path gets quite a bit of shade. Where are the leaves, though? The ones with three leaflets belong to Bur Clover.

Ah. It’s very pleasant here, isn’t it? While you and the humans continue to exclaim over the posies, I think I’ll take a little rest before we head home.

The moss is a bit dry, and its capsules are a bit pokey, but it’s still cushy, and it always feels good to get the helmet off. Wake me up when it’s time to go home.

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A Brief Winter Walk

It’s been foggy a lot in this part of Midgard lately. The humans have ventured out on a rare sunny day to see what’s going on in the local woods.

By Idunn’s little apples!  There is a ubiquitous abundance of holly berries this year!


¡ǝlƃuɐp pooƃ ɐ ɹoɟ ʇods ʇɔǝɟɹǝd puɐ ʎɐp ʇɔǝɟɹǝd ɐ s,ʇᴉ ʇɐɥʇ sʞuᴉɥʇ uʎƃᴉS

It’s not just hollies that can be dangled in.


Camphorweed does just as well.  Sigyn is beyond excited–we’ve been here scarcely a quarter of an hour and she’s had the chance to dangle in plants with both her favorite colors!

(poke, poke, poke.)  Not all plants are large enough to climb in, though.  This one is growing right in the middle of the trail, and it’s very, very teeny.


Sigyn has fallen in love with it.   Don’t hug it, Sweetie.  The human female says it can have spiny fruit.

Oooo!   We have found A Mysterious Hole in this creek bank!

a hole

I wouldn’t go in, if I were you…  But, human female–you feel free to stick a finger in and tell us if there’s a snake or sharp-toothed rodent or something in there, all right?

We’ve been walking and poking at things for a while now.  Time for a rest.

mysleepnumberis moss

My sleep number is “moss.”

Clever Sigyn has found a different moss.


Sigyn doesn’t know if this one’s a moss or a liverwort.


All this green stuff looks alike to me.  Possibly one of the human female’s plant-nerd friends could sort them out, but I really don’t care.

We’re headed to the Sedge Meadow.  I like the Sedge Meadow.  It’s all green and dapply.


Sweet Glittering Bifrost!  What’s this?

trail closed

I had heard the City was Doing Something, but I wasn’t sure what…

But, since I’m a god, barricades and notices don’t apply to me.  Come along, Sigyn.  Leave the puny mortals here obeying all the signs like good little sheep and let’s you and I keep going.

Have fun staring at the signage!  We’re going to go pet sedges.

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A Fall Scramble, Part II: Thar She Blows (Whatever The Heck That Means)

The human female is becoming a bit concerned because she hasn’t seen any of her rare flowers  yet.  I think it is one of those things, though, that you have to see the first one, and then, once your eye is trained, you start to see them everywhere.

Augh!  Now she’s squealing abominably.  I suppose that means she’s spotted some.  Yes, there they are, hiding in the tall grass.


Sigyn says she has learned how to tell the rare ones from the common ones.  The flowers can be the same color on both, but the common ones have wider leaves, and the flowers have almost no stalk at all.  It’s an over-all thickish sort of plant.


The rare ones have very narrow leaves and long flower stalks, so that the whole plant is open and airy, sort of tricky to spot if it’s not in flower.


There are some differences in the flowers, too, but you have to be as big a plant nerd as the human female to understand.  I don’t pretend to, nor do I listen when she rattles on and on about “anther placement” and “calyx sinuses” and “stigma color.”  As  Future Ruler of Midgard, such details are beneath my notice.  I’ll have minions for that.

Odin’s eyepatch! Now that she’s spotted them, the human female now proposes to walk over every inch of the outcrop and count the rare plants.  I don’t know whether to hope that there aren’t very many this year so that this will all be over quickly, or to hope that the rare plant is having a good year, even knowing that it will mean listening to the idiot woman try to remember what comes after “threety-eleven.”

This is, unfortunately, going to involve some clambering.  Sigyn insists on doing it all herself.


But my love, would you not appreciate a magical boost?  Maybe just a little one?

(a bit later)

We have reached the top and completed our survey, having counted about one hundred plants, which makes this a good-ish year, though not a great one.  Now we are free to look about at other members of the flora.

This wafer-ash is also known as hop tree, presumably because of the flat fruits.  (Apparently someone thought it looked like beer-brewing hops and the name stuck.  I don’t see it myself.)


It is very good for dangling, though the foliage is looking rather tattered.  The human female says this tree is a relative of oranges and lemons and, as such, is considered  yummy by the giant swallowtail caterpillar.  Sigyn says she would like to see one of those caterpillars.  However, they are camouflaged to look like bird droppings, and I’ve no real desire to go poking piles of bird poop to see which ones are wiggly and have legs.

But here is a good one for you, love!  (No poop-poking required!)


I actually learned this one because it has such marvelous horns.  It is the larval stage of the pipevine swallowtail.  It ought to be munching on pipevine; I’ve no idea what it thinks it is doing with this greenthread.

There really is a splendid view from up here.  I can see a good portion of the county, though the removal of a few junipers would improve the vista even more.


Sigyn and the human female are still oohing and aahing and speaking in slanty names, enthusing over fall favorites such as this blue sage.

salvia azurea

I, on the other hand, propose to divest myself of my hot and heavy (though noble!) helmet and relax on this pat of moss while they fossick about.


Who knows?  I might even doze.  Being magnificent and knowledgeable about caterpillars is hard work. Wake me when it is time to go home.

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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.


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.


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


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


Perennials are so predictable.

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


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.


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

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…


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

What’s the yellow stuff?


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.


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.


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?


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–?


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.)


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?


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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