nature

Too Hot For a Walk, But Apparently We Are Going Anyway

Newsflash, mortals. It’s summer, and it’s hot outside. Oh, the calendar says it’s still “spring,” but when the Heat Index is 106 F, it’s summer, no matter what equinoxes and solstices and tropics of whatnot say.

Still, Sigyn and the human female are keen to go walking whenever the female can drag her bloated carcass out of bed early enough to get going before the day changes from “balmy” to “humid inferno.” Believe me, as a Frost Giant, I’d prefer to do anything else, but I can never be sure Sigyn will make it home safely without my protection, so I usually tag along. Here, then, is a random assortment of images from walks around the neighborhood.

Sigyn makes new friends wherever she goes. She’s about to make a new one right outside the front door.

Look up, Sweetie! It’s one of those rolly-uppy isopods with the many strange Midgardian names.

And here is a very juicy slug!

Hmmm. Has the human female already had breakfast? ‘Cause I bet it’d go down easy…

Some of the slugs are black and velvety-looking. This one’s out for a stroll slime.

Black-velvet Leatherleaf Slug photo - lejun photos at pbase.com

I made a video! Great Frigga’s hairpins! I just looked that one up and it’s an exotic invasive! You go, funky little foreign slug! Come to our house and eat up all the human female’s flowers!

This red-eared slider turtle is a little shyer.

It says it is perfectly happy sitting in the pond by the Large Ugly Apartments all day and has no interest coming out on the bank to get acquainted.

Ugh! It really is annoyingly hot out here today! Sigyn, why don’t you greet your little floral friends and then we can go home and get out of the heat. Maybe have ice cream for lunch…

The lilac chaste tree in the front yard is looking pretty good.

Especially when you recall that I keep inviting the neighbors to butcher it periodically!

The leaves smell very good and it’s not a bad place for a dangle.

The crape myrtles are in full bloom as well. Whenever there’s wind or a good rain, the flowers fall off and make for what Sigyn says is a “very festive sidewalk.”

Many of the wildflowers are done for the year. This cut-leaved evening primrose is still prettifying the roadsides, though.

Looks like there’s some horseweed in there too.

Keen-eyed Sigyn has found the buttonweed in someone’s lawn. It looks like bluets, but the flowers are a LOT bigger. And furrier.

On the other hand, this purslane has flowers like its cousins, the cultivated, showy moss-roses, but the flowers are a lot smaller.

The human female says you can eat it. No, human female. YOU can eat it. I’m not in the habit of snacking on lawn weeds.

You can eat this one, too. Make yourself a nice salad of the leaves and add in some of the fruit when they show up.

You’ll like them—they look like tiny yellow tomatoes and are only a little bit poisonous.

And your noshing on them will eventually leave more ice cream for the rest of us.

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A May Neener Perambulation

The human female and Sigyn and dragging me out on another Neener Walk. Didn’t we just go?

My innocent question was met with a mixture of scorn (the human female) and gentle reproof (Sigyn.) Apparently, things happen quickly in late spring, with the early spring flowers winding down and the summer flowers just appearing on the stage. It is therefore some sort of moral imperative that we take the trail down by the LUAs (Large, Ugly Apartments) and make note of what we see.

Oh, well, as long as it’s for science. (insert eye-roll.)

The highlighter-yellow false dandelions have been up forever.

And so has the bur clover.

The human female says it has been a good year for dogshade. It’s in all the ditches. Sigyn says it looks like lace.

Thistles are old hat. Be careful, my love. You are up very high and they are very prickly.

Greenbriar is also nothing new. This one is just about to bloom

The farkleberry has nearly finished flowering. If I didn’t know it was related to blueberries, I’d think it was kin to lily-of-the-valley. The flowers look a little alike.

No, human, don’t bother me with the slanty Latin name or start harping on monocots and dicots. I don’t care, and you know it.

The venus’ looking-glass has been out for a good bit. It’s tall enough that the human has to lift Sigyn up to get a good view.

The daisy fleabane started early this year and is gong strong.

We should take some home with us, Sigyn. The human female has some itchy bites she says are from fire ants, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she actually had fleas…

This cut-leaf evening primrose has yellow flowers which turn orange as they fade.

I suppose that’s mildly interesting.

I remember the dayflowers from previous years. They’re such an alarming color.

Ah. The spiderworts are up. The human female really likes them.

The brown-eyed susans showed up last month.

And so did the tickseed.

Have you noticed, Sigyn, that all of those yellowy orange composites are always EXACTLY the same color? With blue flowers, there is usually some variation in shade, but nope, these are all the same. That can’t be natural… I don’t trust them.

So where is the new stuff? Things we haven’t seen already this year?

All right–the prairie gentians are new. I will give you that.

Sigyn is squeeing! She thinks she has found “an itty bitty teeny tiny one.”

The human female says no, it’s a centaury, and that it’s a cousin of the gentians. That’s right, human. Take all the fun out of my sweetie’s delight with your tiresome pedantry. No wonder you never get invited anywhere.

I don’t remember seeing this before. If I did, I forgot it.

Go on, Sigyn. Ask her what it’s called. Ehehehe! Look at her waffle and stutter! She can’t remember what its name is! She says she always confuses Mecardonia and Lindernia and can’t remember which one has yellow flowers and which one has white. Woman, you are losing it, and we all know it.

What about this yellow one?

It’s on a small little shrub with shreddy bark. The human female is calling it “St. Andrew’s Cross.” What a ridiculous name. I swear she makes this stuff up.

Odin’s eyepatch! I’ve needled the human female enough that she is barking back at me! “Fine,” she is saying, “If you don’t want to learn anything about botany, show me what you are interested in. What did you see this morning that you liked?”

Glad you asked! I thought this mushroom was neat.

Might have to put some in the next batch of spaghetti sauce…

And this. This makes me very happy.

Because it means somewhere, there is an annoying, cute–possibly even squeaky–stuffed animal that has had its puffy guts ripped out.

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Because “Aster” Was Too Easy To Spell

Sigyn and I have accompanied the human female to the herbarium again. She has finished her labors with the difficult genus Solidago (goldenrods) and has turned her attention to Symphyotrichum, another large and difficult genus.

For the 99.9999% of the world that does not speak (or care about) botanese, these are the plants known as Asters. Formerly, these plants were in the genus Aster, but someone decided that was too easy to spell and to pronounce and that it would be much, much better to come up with a name that was less accessible to the unwashed masses. (Whether professional botanists are more washed is up for debate. They do spend a lot of time playing in the dirt.)

Many of the Asters in this part of Midgard are perennials with narrow leaves and white flower heads. Sorting them out can be tricky. I suspect that most botanists don’t even try to tell them apart. Instead, they view each herbarium sheet and each newly described species with a carefully-practiced Thoughtful Look and a non-committal, “Ah, yes. Quite so.” No one wants to admit that they really have no clue. This is how names such as “Symphyotrichum oolentangiense*” arise and go unchallenged.

Today the human female is checking all of the specimens of Heath Aster, Symphyotrichum ericoides (literally, “the Symphyotrichum that looks like a heather”, since Erica is the slanty name for some types of heather) to see if they are correctly identified.

This one is actually fairly distinct among the white-flowered asters, since it has a multitude of closely-spaced small heads, tiny upper leaves, and “phyllaries that are tipped with a small white or clear spine.**” Whatever that means.

She has five folders of these to go through, paying close attention to make sure that no specimens of S. falcatum, which has slightly larger leaves and flower heads, have crept in. Just to keep her humble, I’m going to do a little magical mischief and make sure that a good few have characters that are midway between the two.

Eehehehehe! She found another one of my little jokes.

Not only is this NOT S. ericoides, it’s not even a Symphyotrichum! It wasn’t collected in the area that the Big Book of Boring Botany (BBBB) is meant to cover, so she could just forget about it, but because she is who she is, it is going to eat at her and eat at her until she figures out what it actually is.

See how easy it is to derail a work session in the herbarium? The specimen is from far west Texas, an area she’s more than passing familiar with, but the specimen is so old and brittle that a thorough dissection isn’t really possible. It’s not even certain what the original flower color was. It’s yellow now, but what was it originally? And how did it end up in the S. ericoides folder?

Ah. That’s how. The label says Leucelene ericoides and someone at some point just assumed that was the same as Aster ericoides, now Symphyotrichum ericoides. But again what should it be?

Oh, now, human female this is cheating! She has summoned up a website that has data and images for thousands and thousands of herbarium specimens. Since this one was collected by a fairly famous botanist, there’s a good chance that there is a duplicate specimen out there that might be correctly identified. Hmm. Looks like there are several that were databased as, you guessed it, Leucelene ericoides, but that is no help. Oh! No, wait! Here’s an image of one that was annotated to Chaetopappa ericoides. She says that makes more sense, since Chaetopappa is a valid genus and C. ericoides a valid species.

Checking the local herbarium database, it looks like there are some in the collection.

This folder has all species of Chaetopappa except C. asteroides, C. bellidifolia, and C. effusa, so they should be in here.

Great Frigga’s Hairpins!

This is one that the human female collected! Shame on you, woman, for not recognizing it at once!

And look over here! Just to make your day a little more complicated, here’s another whole folder, one that is just C. ericoides.

Now you’ll have to assemble them all into this solely-ericoides folder and add “ericoides” to the list of species not in the “everything but” folder. And because you’re you, you’re going to have to look through all of them and make sure the identifications and names are up to date!

Ha! Look at this one. What a runt.

Hmm. Looks like the great botany god Lloyd Shinners used the name Leucelene ericoides for this specimen as well. It’s not like him to have made an error. Perhaps Leucelene is merely an older name for Chaetopappa?

And what about the ones like this that were labeled Aster leucelene? And where does Aster pilosus from the Shinners-annotated sheet figure in? Was that a misidentification, or is it a another synonym? I do love to watch her pointy little head spin around! Time to consult the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s PLANTS Database of plant names, classifications, and distributions.

Hmm. That can’t be right. It’s an open public resource! Better try again.

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Ehehehe! Human female, what did you do to get yourself banned?! Try it again. Perhaps the third time is the charm.

And there is the shiny cherry on the sweet mischief sundae! Not only can you not look it up, you can’t ask anyone else to do it for you!

What? You’ve run out of time today, with two folders of Symphyotrichum ericoides left to check? Tsk, tsk. Looks like you’ll have to pack everything up and come back another day, won’t you? By then I will have a completely new rabbit hole for you to stumble into.

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*There’s actually nothing wrong with the epithet “oolentangiense”, which refers to the Olentangy/Oolentangy River in Ohio. It just looks silly.

**And because I’m a right b@st@rd, you can be sure that not all the phyllaries will be spine-tipped. Maybe just one on each head. Or every other head…

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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The Tiny Treasures Are Up! (Nearly Wordless Wednesday)

A few days of warm sunshine have brought the spring wildflowers up for reals. Sigyn is beside herself with joy and has gone out to revel and frolic, suitably equipped.

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Botanical Hair-splitting

The human female is wasting precious spring sunshine cooped up in the herbarium, beating her head against more plants. Today’s puzzles involve the genus Solidago.

This is the genus for goldenrods, and there are a LOT of them. Over the years, different experts have taken vastly different approaches to sorting them all out, a process which the plants themselves have responded to with the asteraceous equivalent of a loud, wet raspberry.

Armed with a key, several websites, and multiple folders of specimens, Sigyn is ready to help the human female out.

Oh, and a hand lens. A hand lens is of paramount importance, especially when dealing with the members of Section Triplinerviae (the ones with three main nerves in each leaf), since identification to species often requires observation of the tiny hairs on the stems, leaves, and flowers.

The human female is banging her head (both metaphorically and literally) over the plants formerly treated as Solidago canadensis. According to the leading Solidago expert (who is currently examining his life choices now that the human female has found his email address and has been peppering him with questions) the way things actually are is a bit different than what was presented by the Flora of North America in 2006. If I understand it correctly (and there’s no guarantee I do because all of this botanicobabble goes in one ear and out the other), the Texas plants formerly included in S. canadensis are actually S. altissima because S. canadensis does not reach Texas. These plants have hairy stems, and the flowering portion can be long and narrow or wide and pyramidal. With a good specimen, identifying the species–and even the variety–is usually doable.

Behold Solidago altissima L. var. pluricephala M. C. Johnston

Of course, I’ve arranged for the human female to be confronted with a plethora of intermediate and/or atypical specimens, such that identification is bit more of a problem.

This one had the top of the stem mowed/ bitten/ broken off, causing all of the branches below to become floriferous. How should she interpret the inflorescence? Who knows!

It’s also missing the lower stem and roots, which is no help at all.

Oh, marvelous. This one doesn’t have an inflorescence. She’s pretty sure it’s not even a Solidago

Hooray. Another specimen for the “unknown” folder filed at the end of the entire collection.

Wait a minute… Sigyn says this one is MUCH hairier than the others.

It turns out that there is another species of Solidago which is very similar to S. altissima, but which is very, very hairy. It is found mostly in West Texas, but it pokes its head up in the far western part of East Texas, which means the human female and her co-authors have to include it in the BBBB.

It’s called S. juliae, after the namer’s wife (whom the human female met once upon an eon ago).

What about this one, though?

It’s S. juliae, too. Don’t pat the human female too hard on the back for identifying it, though. There was a good, fertile specimen by the same collector from the same spot on the same date, which is how she knows. Turns out, there are a LOT of S. juliae hiding in the “S. canadensis” folders. In the middle of the state, where the ranges of S. altissima and S. juliae overlap, it can be difficult to tell slightly less-hairy juliae from slightly extra-hairy individuals of altissima. When that happens, I’m fairly certain the botanists just flip a coin before writing the label.

Great Frigga’s Hairpins! Here’s another problem child. It looks like S. altissima, but the leaves are super-skinny and they don’t have any teeth on the edges. Whatever could it be?!

The human female has just resorted to emailing her tame expert a photo of this goober to get his opinion. And the verdict is… Solidago altiplanites, the high-plains goldenrod, at the edge of its range up on the Oklahoma border.

And now that she has annotated all of the Texas altissima/juliae/altiplanites specimens and recorded all the label data in her humongous database, she has turned her beady eyes on S. gigantea which, truth be told, looks a whole lot like S. altissima, except that the stem below the flowery bits is glabrous, which is a fancy way of saying, “bald.”

You can see that the human female has penciled on a little note that the plant has “stipitate (stalked) glands”, which has her very exited. Those little glands among the flowerheads, so the Flora of North America says, are typical not of S. gigantea, but of S. lepida, a species of western North America, east to far west Texas and the western edge of the Great Plains. What is it doing in Brown county?! And here’s another supposed S. gigantea with glands aplenty. And another! And another! All the way east to the county next door! It’s amazing! It’s a huge range extension! It’s worth a paper! She’s annotating specimens right and left, down to variety! She’s emailing her expert again and letting him know of her fantastic discovery!! Does he perhaps want to borrow the specimens and study them so he can amend his Magnum Opus Solidagorium before it goes to print?

Snort! The expert has adroitly burst her over-enthusiastic bubble by informing her that, in the years since the Flora of North America’s treatment of Solidago was published, it has become common knowledge that S. gigantea frequently also has those little stalked glands. The only actual S. lepida in her whole pile is from the very western bit of Texas, where it has already been recorded.

Now she has to erase all her annotations and correct her database. She’s got to correct the one S. lepida, too because it’s variety salebrosa, not var. lepida. How humiliating!

Mortal, this is why Asgardians have the old saying, “Never count your chickens before they rip your lips off.”

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It’s Nice To Know Her Hard Work Was In Vain For Nothing

Remember how last week I wrote about going on a walk with my beloved along the Neener Path? Well, I lied. I did go for a walk, I did go with Sigyn, we did go along the Neener Path, and we did, in fact, see all of the flowers, but it wasn’t last week. It was a week or so before, before all the cold weather. I just hadn’t had a chance to put it all together. Besides, I think it made a good story, writing about it after Fimbulwinter. Look up “unreliable narrator.” It’s a literary thing. Sue me.

(The human female says the flowers will be back in a week or so. The dandelions and henbit are already blooming again. Sigyn hopes the bluets are not far behind.)

Today, though, we really are going on a little walk. We’re out at the herbarium where the human female is working on the BBBB. Turns out that many, many years ago the local Boy Sprout troop made a nature trail in the woodsy bit of land south of the building. The human female was their consultant with regard to what labels to put on all the plants. She helped write up the trail guide and everything. Since then, however, the trail has fallen into disuse. The road that leads to it is closed off, and you can really only see the entrance from in front of the herbarium.

Inviting, no? Let’s go see how it all looks, Sigyn. We can start with the sign.

Time and the elements have not been kind to the mounted specimens of plants.

And winter has not been kind to the flora.

Idunn’s little apples! Things are looking quite crunchy! I know that we are looking at last year’s grasses and fallen leaves, and that the deciduous trees are bare this time of year anyway, but still! That is quite a lot of…beige.

Oh! Wait! Sigyn sees a bit of color on that little tree over there! Maybe something is blooming!

Oh. Just a bit of lichen on a winter-bare hawthorn. Sigyn finds lichens fascinating.

You would think that the yuccas got nipped by the ice, but no.

They’re still green!

The junipers are too.

Kind of prickly and sticky-resiny, but green nonetheless.

Except for this one.

I didn’t think you COULD kill these things, except perhaps with a bulldozer! It looks like it has been defunct for quite some time. It may not have been the cold that did it in…

Ah. Here we have one of the lovely plant marker signs.

That’s held up well.

We’re not seeing very many signs of incipient wildflowers, although these may turn out to be something later.

Don’t ask me what. I can barely remember plants’ names when they’re in full flower. This tiny stuff is just so much ground clutter.

This one here might be one of those furry gray composites the human female was beating her head against.

No way to tell whether this will be one of the ones with the pappus bristles united or one that has bristles that fall singly. And do you know what? I don’t care.

Uh, oh. It looks like the trail ends here.

The human female says that it used to wind around for quite a bit longer. There was a bridge, and it crossed a road, and there were a good number of interesting trees. Hmm. Maybe it’s just overgrown?

Of course, the fact that an apartment complex has been built over there probably doesn’t help either.

So it looks like the trail and the human female’s contribution to edifying the populace is no longer. Ehehehehe! I don’t think she even has the text of the trail guide saved anywhere. And this obsolescence predates ME! I didn’t have to lift a finger.

Sorry, Sigyn. It looks like we won’t be seeing any flowers today. Let’s just rest here on this nice moss pat and then go back.

Hmm. The moss looks (and feels) a little underwhelming. But I guess it is still only late winter and not spring yet.

Hey, human female! Can you find your way back to the herbarium, or are you lost? It would be just like you to lose your way in a such a small area. Who knows? You could wander around out here for days, shivering at night and starving. You might have to figure out how to eat yucca and dead oak leaves! And fend off wild dingoes and weasels!

Or maybe the fact that you can still see the building and your car will give you a little clue.

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What a Difference a Day Makes!

This part of Midgard is famous for its roasting hot summers that make Muspelheim look like a brisk fall day and its mild, sometimes dampish winters. It’s not uncommon to see mortals out and about in shirtsleeves in December and January. Take yesterday, for example–nudging 70 degrees F and the sun was out.

Today is very, very different! It started cooling off last night, and then the rain started. It rained off an on most of the night, and this morning, the promised “wintry mix” materialized and we went from “Winter Storm Watch” to “Winter Storm Warning” to “Here Comes the Sleet” and NOW IT IS SNOWING LIKE SOMEONE UPSTAIRS EMPTYING A FEATHERBED! In Texas!

So now we are all bundled up warm (mortals), bespelled warm (Sigyn), or naturally immune (me) and are going out to walk in it. Sigyn is so excited–she’s never seen snow quite like this! (Is a Frost Giant perhaps helping it along….mmm. Could be!)

Oh, it’s lovely and clean and squeak-crunches underfoot. Sigyn trying to catch the big clumps of flakes on her tongue is adorable, and the human female’s hair and spectacles are filling up with snow, which is hilarious.

The trees are already wearing a good coat of white.

The hollies look especially festive!

It’s sticking pretty well on the grass, too.

It’s somewhat above freezing, but it’s falling faster than it can melt, so it is really starting to pile up.

I think there’s enough now, Sigyn, that we can roll a snowman.

He’s really taking shape!

Great Frigga’s Corset, it’s beginning to look like Fimbulwinter! It is coming down so hard! I can actually hear it hitting the trees. There is about five inches and it’s not slowing down at all!

If the video below doesn’t launch, go to https://youtu.be/FTyMOPqx208

Are you becoming chilled, my pet? I think the human male started a pot of hot spiced cider this morning. It should be about ready to drink by now. Let us crunch our way home and spend the rest of the day curled up under a quilt, watching it snow and extirpating the last of the Yule cookies!

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A Park, All Right, But I Don’t See Anyone Doing Any Research…

It’s a bright, crisp winter day, and the humans have been doing their best recently to become one with the sitting furniture, so here we all are for a bit of fresh air and sunshine and to make sure the lower extremities still function in an ambulatory fashion.

This is the Research Park on the west side of the University campus. It is quite park-like, but I don’t see anyone doing any research. Except maybe about how much bread a duck can hold.

Whatever you do, Sigyn, pray don’t you feed them too.

They’ll only follow you about, quacking pitifully, and the next thing you know you’ll be asking to bring all of them home with us. It would annoy the humans and terrify the cats which, you know, would be fun, but have you ever had to clean up after ducks? The only thing worse is geese. Oh, wait… *We* wouldn’t be the ones doing the cleaning! Hold onto the duck idea, but wait and see if there are geese. If we find geese, you can bring home as many as you like.

The artificial ponds here are connected by artificial waterways, some of which have little artificial waterfalls.

Sigyn? Sigyn? I’ve lost her. She can stand mesmerized, looking at moving water or machinery, for as long as you will let her. Come, my love. Let’s see what else there is to see. We can always come back if you want to stare at it some more.

What are these weird sticky-up things at the water’s edge?

The human female says they’re “tree knees.”

Pffft! I think she’s finally lost it. Next thing you know, she’ll be prattling on about “shrub toes” or something.

Oh, wait. Bald cypress? I have heard of these, now that I think about it. Strange, knee-endowed, deciduous conifers that like to live in or around water.

Also good for dangling. But isn’t the sun in your eyes, my dear? Why don’t you try dangling in the Chinese tallow tree? Let me enumerate the potential benefits: Just as good for dangling, extra colorful this time of year, and you won’t be so squinty.

Are you enjoying the walk, my love? It makes a nice change from the neighborhood, does it not? We shall have to come out here agai—

Shh! Hold very still! What is that white thing down by the water?

It’s a bird of some sort. I think it is looking for lunch… Quick, human female, take a photo of it so we can look it up later!

Sigh. I’m sure she just took a perfectly horrible photo, but we’ll see what we can do.

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A Very Poofy Walk (Sigyn speaks)

It has been a little rainy recently, and the human female has been busy, so we haven’t had the chance to go for a good walk very often. But today is bright and shiny and breezy and chilly, and there’s nothing that can keep the human female and me indoors! We’re exploring what Loki calls the “Neener Walk” today.

The flowers are almost all gone, and the fall color has faded or blown away. What’s left?

IT’S POOF SEASON!

A lot of the plants around here make fluff when they go to seed. I want to hug them all!

The goldenrod stalks are still pointy on top, they’re just not golden anymore.

Hug, hug, hug, hug!

The late-flowering thoroughwort is a little pricklier, but still a treat to nestle in.

Hee hee hee! It’s breezy enough that my bed is swaying! The asters are low to the ground and would be less likely to make someone seasick.

Oh, wait, this patch is even better!

Achoo! I sniffed up a little fluff there! Always a hazard of a walk this time of year.

Dandelions are mostly spring things, but you can find them in the fall and winter here too. Always time for making wishes!

It’s not just the daisy family things that have gone fuzzy, the grasses have been busy too! The silver bluestem won’t hold still for a photo, but it’s definitely puffy.

Little bluestem is a bit less floofy, but there is more of it. It used to be one of the main prairie grasses from south Texas all the way up into Canada, but there isn’t much prairie left.

The dry foliage is a nice, coppery color, don’t you think? The new shoots in spring will be blue-green.

I think the Grand Floof Prize goes to bushy bluestem! If you hug just one plant, it should be this one.

It’s so windy today. If I hang on tight, I bet I could get a ride! Back…

..and forth…

..and back again, over and over!

Whee! My walking buddy is making a little movie!

Oh, this walk was such fun! You should definitely go on a walk and see if you can find some fluff of your own!

: )