nature

Keeping it Real

The human female needs another project like she needs a hole in the head.  I mean that—her craft room has so many UFOs (unfinished objects) that the rest of the household calls it Area 51.

Still, her little ferrety brain keeps coming up with new things she wants to do.  Recently, she decided to try designing a lot of embroideries based on wildflowers.  She made a list of plants she’d like to include.

Actually, she made several lists.

gerdabook1

But she missed a few.

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She’s a naturalist, so I know she’d like to stitch complete representations of the state’s flora.  And I know that she plans to pick and fondle everything before lovingly sketching and charting it.

gerdabook3

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Poking at Plants and Keeping Tight Hold of Sigyn

The human female has bestirred herself and is off Doing Botany today.  She is meeting up with some Plant Nerds from the Next County to the West and they are going to see what’s what on someone’s land.

I predict they will find…green things.  I also predict that the human female is going to spend the day  looking like a cross between a well-fed tick and a smuffled-up Inuit, because even though it is spring, it is chilly this morning and the wind is blowing about a thousand miles an hour.

Sigyn has been begging very prettily to go along.  Sigh.  I can deny my beloved nothing.  Very well. We shall go, but be sure to hold fast to something at all times!  Should the wind pick you up and carry you away I would be heartbroken.

The Blue-haired Goddaughter is also tagging along.  Perhaps she will help keep my dearest from becoming airborne.

It is always important to have field trip members sign in.

sign-in

That way, if someone goes missing, you know whom to look for.  Unless the missing person writes as tiny as Mister Six up there.  No one can read that.  If he wanders off, we won’t have a clue.

Brr!  It really is quite breezy and nippy.   Sigyn and the human female would like to take lots of flower photos, but the flowers will not stand still!  We shall have to content ourselves with photos of more stationary items.

Such as this hollow tree.  Sigyn thinks she has spotted a tiny plant nestled within.

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There is!  There is a little seedling growing in the drifted leaves!

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I say, I never knew the arboreal members of the flora practiced such a level of paternal care.  I always figured it was, “Pfft, seeds!  Shoo!  Off you go and let me get back to photosynthesizing, ”  but I guess some really do care about their offspring.

The most unusual plant we have collected today is this jujube.   I thought the human female was making that up, but no.  Apparently jujubes are a thing that exists.

jujube

It is extremely thorny and reluctant to go into the press.  I can’t say I blame it.

It always pays to keep a careful eye on the volunteers’ plant-pressing technique.

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Hey, you!  Don’t forget to fold the tall ones, and be sure to write the collection numbers on the newspapers.

Gotta watch ’em every minute.

Sigyn, by virtue of her being the sweetest entity in this county or any other, is exempt from having to kneel in the mud, dig up stubborn roots and bulbs, wrestle with thorny bushes or poison ivy, get all black and inky dealing with newsprint, or do anything other than just enjoy the flowers.

Not a bad day, after all.

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Special BONUS photo!  

The wind has died down enough for Sigyn to model this year’s hottest fashion trend.

physalis

C’est un très beau chapeau!

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At Last, At Last, At Last…, Part III: Let’s Move

Aaaand… Now we’re back to the bright flowers.  This vine is one of Sigyn’s absolute favorites.  I believe she is physically incapable of passing it without stopping for a dangle.

lonicera

The labels on it in the nurseries always say, “Gorgeous native plant!  Attracts hummingbirds!”  They need to add, “Attracts humming Sigyns, too!”

The eyes have it!  This blue-eyed grass is a delicate thing (though it still towers over my beloved), not really purple and not really blue.  The human female says it is a member of the iris family.  Since I don’t care enough about plants to study taxonomy, I can neither prove nor disprove this statement.  Sigyn hasn’t squeaked in outrage, so it may be right.

sisyrinchium

It is time to go.  Sigyn is reluctant, but I hear lunch calling me, so I am fine with leaving.

Odin’s eyepatch!  What now?  The human female has stopped the car and is standing on the side of the road, gazing longingly.  What has caught her scattered fancy this time?

Ah.  Just enjoying the view.

sadlynotforsale

It doesn’t properly show in the photo, but the large front yard is a mass of bluehats and something yellow.  It is a lovely house and has a “For Sale” sign.

Sigyn and the human female haven’t stopped exclaiming about the flowers and sniffing the air and mentally clearing out the current house, putting it up for sale, and moving to this one. While they ponder where and how they could come up with the money— and figure out that the sign is for the lot next door and not the house— I will snoop around a bit.

Hmm.  Right next to the human female…

pokeants

Poke, poke, poke.  Hello, my fiery little minions!  When was the last time you had a tasty human to bite?  There is a nice plump one right over here…

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At Last, At Last, At Last…, Part I: Colors!

Today is the day Sigyn has been waiting for all year.  The breeze is warm, the sun is playing hide-and-seek, and the wildflowers are FINALLY putting on their spring show.  The human female has taken us out for a drive to Minty Springs (that place where there is no mint and no springs) south of town, where the flowers really like the sandy soil.

Sigyn, of course, has made an itty-bitty beeline for the bright red paintbuckets.

castilleja

She’d lie back and gaze up at them all day if we’d let her.  But last year’s dry grass is itchy.

The human female says it’s a good year  for the bluehats.  I hate to admit it, but she’s right.  That is a very fine shade of blue.

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Sigyn is greeting them like old friends.

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Sigyn, do you usually climb your old friends?

I think all the really bright flowers are out today.  These bibulous, oenophilic cup-shaped ones are a particularly vivid shade of…

callirhoe

…I don’t even know what you call it. I’ve certainly never seen wine that color.

And this flock of little stars can only be described as pinky-purple-fading-to-bluish.

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And each one has a purple eye in the middle.

Sigyn has the right of it:  If you put all of these colors together in a shirt or a painting, folks would call it garish and be repulsed, but out here, it doesn’t look half bad.

But that does give me a good idea for a spell to put on the human female’s wardrobe…

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A Long-Overdue Walk in the Woods, Part II: A Few Surprises

The tree-identifying has been snoring boringly along:  yaupon holly, winged elm,  yaupon,  yaupon, post oak… one mostly-naked tree after another.

But the Park has a few surprises up its planty sleeves.

The students are losing their collective tiny mind.  The human female has told them that there are PALM trees in the Park and they think she’s crazy.

palmetto

But here’s proof.  The human female is crazy, of course, but this is undeniably a palmetto.  Sigyn and I last saw these in East Texas.

Ah.  Here is a nice “pop” of color.  (That’s something the human female says.  I have no idea what she means, but this coralberry is certainly colorful.

symphoricarpos

It’s only a foot tall, though, so dangling here just doesn’t have the thrill one can get with a taller species.

At last!  Some actual non-arboreal blossoms!  Sigyn likes this camphorweed, not only because it’s flowery, but because it is her favorite cheery yellow.

heterotheca

It’s short too, but by the end of the season, it could be four feet tall.

(later)  We’ve been traipsing up and down all morning, and it is time for a break.

Clever Sigyn!   She has found us this lovely green and reddish resting place.

salvia lyrata

The human female says it’s cancerweed.  What an ugly name for such a delightful plant.  It’s not moss, but it’ll do in a pinch.

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A Long-Overdue Walk in the Woods, Part I: Adventures in Tree ID

Sleipnir’s fetlocks!  The human female has ACTUALLY shoved her trotters into hiking boots and dragged her saggy fundament out into the woods.  She’s out at Lick Creek Park, helping some Honors Biology students who are learning how to run transects, census trees, and measure weird things like Diameter at Breast Height. (I don’t want to know.)

Because of all the cold weather and gray skies this winter, the local flora is LATE.  Things should be leaping into flower right about now, but nary a blossom is in sight.  The human female is having to dust off her knowledge of Trees in Winter Condition.  I’m letting all the talk of bud scales, leaf scars, and lentils go in one ear and out the other, but Sigyn is hanging on every syllable.

Oh, well, I guess I am hanging too.

lichen

Now that I look, this is very interesting.  We have here crustose, fruticose, AND foliose lichens, all on one branch.  Not precisely plants, but they are at least green.

Now we are getting to the trees.  This is winged elm.  No leaves, but the twigs are good and weird.

winged elm.jpg

They are all flat, and.. bacony.

Hold!  What’s this?!  Finally, something in bloom!  And it’s not some tiny, timid, little spring wildflower, it’s a big tree!   Mexican plum doesn’t look like much when its wearing its leaves later on, but it’s surely showy now.

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Time for some serious dangling. Sigyn’s out of practice–we both are–but look at that form!

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She’s perfection.

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