nature

Sigyn is Just the Right Size

I do love my little Sigyn!

Emphasis on the “little.”

She’s a good dangler and a pretty good climber, but sometimes she just can’t reach the flowers she wants to see.

Sigyntooshort1

For example, it’s a sure bet she’s never going to be able to examine the inside of that tall copper lily unaided.

Likewise, this false dandelion would be out of her reach if  I weren’t holding it down with Gungnir.

sigyntooshort2

Sniff as long as you like, my love.

sigyntooshort3

Gungnir and I are very patient!

Some things are right at her level, though.  ‘Tis the season for crapemyrtle blossoms, and when the white ones fall, it can look as if it has been snowing.

crapemyrtle

She likes to play in the drifts and pretend it’s December.

The heat index is over 105° F.  I think I’ll join her!

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Free At Last! Neener-neener-neener! Part II: It’s Tiny White Flower Day!

Great Frigga’s hairpins!  Is nothing the human female  photographed today in focus and properly exposed?  Maybe her eyes, like a mole’s, are still trying to adjust after being holed up for so long.

To make it worse, she’s trying to take photos of white things.  That’s always a hit-or-miss proposition.  Or, in her case, mostly miss.

This little bit of a thing is called polyprim.  Even when all a-bloom, it’s pretty inconspicuous.

Polypremum

There are tiny white flowers in there somewhere.  Sigyn thinks they’re “cute.” I think they’re out of focus.

I was excited for a moment there.  I thought the human female said this was a crouton plant, and I was going to come back later when the croutons are ripe and crunchy, but evidently I misheard.

Croton

It’s a croton.  Botanically interesting (I guess), but a lot less tasty on a salad.

Tiny white flowers on a bigger plant: boltonia

I can hear you thinking, “Those are big white flowers.  Bigger than Sigyn’s smiling face!”  But these are in the daisy family, blah, blah, so each “flower”  is actually a capitulum, blather, blather, plethora of very small individual flowers, yadda, yadda, receptacle, blah, phyllary,  yah, yah, yah.

My human female impression is improving daily.

You know it’s summer when the gaura starts flowering.  It’s tall and wandy and has very, very soft leaves.  Sigyn loves it.

gaura

The human female is annoyed by it, because all the local species of Gaura were quite happy being Gaura, but the Powers That Be decided that Gaura needed lumping into Oenothera so she has to unlearn something, which always makes her frowny.

Speaking of frowny:  I’m not crazy about the idea of dangling from barbed wire.  It seems like a bad idea to me.

Eupatorium

But it does afford Sigyn an up-close view of this late-flowering thoroughwort.  Snort!  No one calls it that.  It’s a big, weedy Eupatorium, is what it is.  The human female’s front flower bed is full of the stuff.  She let some go to flower one year and that’s all it took.  Hers is about seven feet tall and hasn’t flowered yet.  It’s all rangy and untidy and I’ll keep planting it because it “ruins the aesthetic.”

And finally, we have the little white flowers on this beautyberry.

callicarpa

Or maybe they’re very, very pale pink?  With the human female’s camera skills they might just be overexposed.

Are you done looking at flowers, my love?  The sun’s getting high and it is getting mighty warm out here.  What do you say we turn for home and retreat to our nice, air-conditioned abode.  It was quarantine, but it was a cool quarantine!

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Free At Last! Neener-neener-neener! Part I: Flower in a Crannied Wall, etc.

Released from self-quarantine, the humans have lost no time in going for a walk.  This is a good thing, both for morale and because their legs were in a fair way of becoming atrophied, and the mental image of them flopping about the house like a pair of beached sea lions is one I don’t care to dwell upon.

Ah. The human female has made a botanist line (like a bee-line, but with even more stops to look at plants) straight for the Neener-neener-Neener trail, just to see what is going on here.

Part of the walkway is bordered by a masonry wall, and all sorts of vegetation has established itself in the nooks and crannies.

This over-exposed composite is horseweed.

calyptocarpus

And here are some VERY late evening primroses.

oenothera

Oh, now this is fun!  This ground cherry, with its inflated, Chinese-lantern fruits, is big enough for a good dangle.

physalis

I just like to pop the balloony fruits.

Sigyn says this is one we want to come back for.  Farkleberry, midway between white flowers and blue-black fruit.

vaccinium

They’re edible, though they’re a little seedy and dry.  More of a nature snack and less of something you’d collect on purpose to make pie.

This peppervine is clambering over everything. (And Sigyn is clambering over it, which makes her the Supreme Clamberer!)

ampelopsis

Those berries will be purply black when mature.  Sadly, not edible, though I’ve a mind to come back and gather some when they’re ripe.  They will look beautiful in the human female’s fruit salad!

The fruits on this pokeweed won’t be edible, either, but I’ve heard it said you can make a fine dye out of them. 

phytolacca

The leaves are definitely toxic, though that doesn’t stop humans from eating them.  How many of the idiots perished before they figured out that you have to boil them multiple times in multiple changes of  water before they’re safe?

Then there’s this nightshade

solanum

Too bad these fruits aren’t ripe yet, either.  They’re blue-black when they are, and it would be as easy as anything to slip them into the human female’s blueberries.  Mischief–it’s what’s for breakfast!

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A Cure For Cabin Fever, Part II: Stupid Names, Plants With No Sense of Schedule, and the Human Female Yapping Just to Hear Herself Talk

It’s very hot and humid today, as well as hazy and sprinkly and generally not conducive to a long expedition, but I suppose I can tolerate it a little longer, since Sigyn and the human female are still looking at plants.

There are a lot of plants to look at.

minter2

All that yellow stuff is partridge pea.  No.  There are no partridges locally.

It’s about the right time for partridge pea, though the human female swears it used to flower later in the year.

This blanket flower is more or less on schedule also.

gaillardia

And so is this… This…  What is this, again?  No, not the viney thing, the other one, the ferny-leaved one with the clusters of white flowers.  Is this some more of your “prairie clover” stuff?

legumes

What do you mean, it’s either prairie acacia or bundle flower?  Don’t you know?  Pfft!  And you call yourself a botanist!

Do you at least know what this one is? I’ve seen it before, I think.

phyla

Siygn says she remembers it’s called frog fruit.  That’s right.  Now I remember.  It’s another one of those plants with a completely stupid name.  Frogs don’t eat it, and the fruit certainly doesn’t look like a frog.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When I take over Midgard,  things are going to have logical, pronounceable names.

NOT like this thing.

sida

The human female said it’s called “Cuban jute.”   Or did she say, “Juban cute”?  Again, I don’t really listen when she talks botanese, and the two options are equally silly.

And this one.  “Prairie tea“?  Really?

croton m

It’s slanty name is Croton monanthogynus.  Who can wrap their tongue around that?

And I will make sure plants stick to a prescribed schedule, too!   There are plants flowering out here today that should have finished long ago.

Take this dock, for example.  It should have flowered back in March and be dry, crunchy toast by now.

dock

And this!

castilleja

There’s just no excuse for this!

Okay.  I’ve had enough.  I’m overheated, sweaty, hungry, and just generally fed up with binomial nomenclature, plants that can’t be bothered to check their planners, and stuffy botanists who don’t know as much as they think they do.

The human female says I need a nap.  Woman, that’s the most sensible thing you’ve said all day.

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A Cure For Cabin Fever, Part I: Signs, Flowers, and Meeting Up With Kinfolks

The humans are still supposed to be self-isolating so that if they’re sick, they don’t make anyone else sick.

Oh, now the human female has declared that she IS sick, that she has a “horrible, horrible case of CABIN FEVER” and she misses the daily walks and if she doesn’t get out of the house she will go crazy and start snapping at people and saying whatever she’s thinking and she can’t be held responsible for her behavior with sharp objects and….oh, wait.

That’s me.

So the human female put on her thinking cap (the one that looks like a cactus; long story) and come up with a place where we can all go walk without meeting anyone.

And here we are!  It’s Minty Springs! We’ve been here before, more than once, though I’m not sure we’ve been here in the summer.  Let’s see what kinds of mischief I can get up to.

Well, for starters, I’m on the wrong side of the fence!

trespasser

Neener neener neener.

Sigh.  Sigyn says we need to stay on the *right* side of the fence.  Very well, my love.  I applaud your efforts to make me a better man, though I’m not sure it will “stick.”

Great Frigga’s hairpins!  Look at all the enchanter’s nightshade!

minter1

This really is a gorgeous plant.  I don’t know why everyone doesn’t just fill up their pastures and lawns and gardens with this and call it done.

nightshade

It’s prolific and prickly and poisonous.  What’s not to love?

Sigyn is very enthused about this “nifty” legume.  It has “poofy” clusters of little white flowers and “teeny” little leaflets.

dalea

The human female, whose language tends to be a little more scientific, says it’s something called roundhead prairie clover, a “locally uncommon, taprooted perennial with gland-dotted foliage and a short, globose to oblong inflorescence, shorter than that of white prairie clover.”

Or that’s what she would tell you she said, anyway.  I can’t verify.  When she starts rattling botany, I mostly just hear, “whhhhhhsssssshhhhh.”  My personal antenna just is not tuned to whatever frequency she’s broadcasting on, and all I get is static.

Apparently this is another unusual find.   The human female likes the way it sets all of its flower buds and then blooms backwards down the stem.  Sigyn likes the purple color.

liatrissq

I approve of the spiky leaves and floral bracts.  Careful, my sweet!  I wouldn’t want you to poke an eye out.

Odin’s eyepatch!  What is that awful screeching-creaking-whistling noise?!

Oh.

hee haw

Human female, you didn’t tell me we were visiting your relatives today.  You be sure to stay at least six feet away from your cousin, do you hear?  Sigyn and I will stay farther away–I saw some big teeth when it hollered, and it seems like a perfect time to practice some antisocial distancing. 

Hmm.  I think perhaps Cousin Jack is not the only hoofed thing out here.

deerprints

I think some undercooked venison came this way…

To be continued…

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Botany Lessons Before Breakfast

After a string of miserably warm and humid mornings on which NO ONE, myself least of all, wanted to get up and go for a walk that would have left the humans sweating* before we reached the end of the front walk, we have been graced by a slightly cooler dawn, so we are seizing the opportunity to get a little exercise.

We are making a short detour from the mile loop the humans call “The Long Block” and are exploring a little side street where the houses are still under construction.  Be careful, Sigyn!  There could be nails and bits of glass and broken masonry!

new lot

Odin’s eyepatch!  The side-yard-to-be is a veritable jungle of foliage and bloomery!

Most noticeable is something the human female says is called Johnsongrass.  It’s good for a dangle.

johnsongrass

See if you can shake some of that grass pollen over the human female.  She’s allergic and it’s fun to watch her eyes swell up.

There are sunflowers, though not so many nor so tall as the ones at the house.

sunflower

(The ones at the house are particularly hulking this year, and I took great pains to make sure they came up so close to the driveway that the human female has to choose between thrashing her way through them and becoming covered in pollen and chaffy bits or climbing in through the passenger side.   It never gets old.)

The black-eyed Susans are similar, but much more nearly Sigyn-sized.

rudbeckia2

Hmm.  Red, yellow, brown… Look, my love, they’re Sigyn-colored too!

As you might expect in a weedy patch, there are thistles.

thistle

Sigyn says the flower heads remind her of fireworks.  I suppose I can see that.

Let’s see what else is here.  False dandelion..

pyrrhopappus

More yellow.  This one’s partridge pea.

partridgepea

The human female says it used to bloom in late summer and early fall, but now it blooms beginning in June.  I am so weary of her whining about climate change.  Would you like me to call down Fimbulwinter, mortal?  Is that what you want?  Keep complaining and I just might.

Ehehehe!  Sigyn has discovered that partridge peas are a little too bendy to be good for dangles.

partridgepea2

But if I do a little spell that will hold the stem, they do just fine.

partridgepea3

Ah. Evening primroses.  Like the kind that were in the lawn at home.

oenothera

Sigyn and the human female are very excited.  Apparently there are some more unusual plants here too.

Yellow puff is a funny bean with poofy yellow flower clusters and leaves that close up if you touch them.

neptunia

Look, Sigyn, there it goes!  Do another one!  Do another one!

These white flowers belong to a sweet clover that should have finished flowering months ago.

melilotus

That’s Texas vervain (lavender) down below.

The little dark fruits don’t look like legumes, but technically, they are.

melilotus dangle

The human female has identified this scruffy, not-very-showy plant as goosefoot.

goosefoot

If I ever had a good with feet shaped like those leaves, I would take him to a veterinary podiatrist.

The plants are getting smaller and smaller.  This is my beloved in a patch of new western ragweed plants.

cyclospermum

And the little thread-leaved thing on the left enjoys the completely ridiculous moniker of slim-lobe celery.

This one little lot is quite the botanical bonanza.  I’m sure whatever the builder and eventual tenants plant won’t be half as interesting.

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*I don’t sweat.  Frost Giants just don’t, but heat does tend to make us testy.  Sigyn definitely doesn’t sweat.  Her hair may get just the teensiest bit frizzy in hot, humid weather, but otherwise she remains gorgeous and cheerful.  Seriously.  She is perfect.

In Which Loki Looks at Toadstools Because He’s a Fun Guy

Listen!  Do you hear that?

<poink!>

That is the sound of various Basidiomycetious interlopers appearing everywhere, thanks to some recent rains.  Some people, like the human female, think fungi are interesting because of their weird approaches to reproduction.  Others, like the human male, think they’re “icky” and refuse to have anything to do with them.  Sigyn thinks they’re “cute” and wants to hug them.

Me?  I think these chitinous abominations that are absolutely everywhere–on dead things, in the soil, in the water, in the ocean, in the atmosphere–and which are more closely related to animals than plants!—are secretly running the world.  I shall probably have to forge some sort of alliance with them if I want to truly take over Midgard.  In the meantime, I they and I have a sort of grudging detente.

In the interest of knowing the competition, Sigyn and I are out meeting some of the local excrescences.

She is squeakily enthusing about these tiny parasols.

mushrooms1

This one is all shaggy.  The texture really is very interesting.  If you poke them, they feel… meaty.

mushrooms2

Sigyn, look at mine!  It’s all smooooth, and much tidier than yours.

mushrooms3

Sigyn has found some smooth babies.

mushrooms4

mushrooms5

Told you she wants to hug them.

Great Frigga’s hairpins!  Look at this one!  It looks like a concha sweet roll…

mushrooms8

…and the stalk is so thick that the two of us can’t reach around it.

All of this poking about in leaf litter and whatnot is hard work.  Time for a rest.  Fortunately, there is a convenient, spongy myco-mattress handy.

mushrooms6

It’s comfy enough, but the surface is curved and I keep sliding off.

This one is flatter and much more commodious.

mushrooms9

Any conversation about fungi eventually turns to which species are edible and how best to recognize and prepare the tasty ones.  It’s a topic well worth paying attention to, as guessing wrong can have fatal consequences.  One would not, for example, wish to consume an Amanita by mistake.   You feel fine, you feel sick, you feel better, then you die.

I will admit that I am no mycologist, but I do know one hard and fast rule for distinguishing the toxic species from the comestible ones.  Some will tell you to go by color, or to look for a veil, or to check the color of the spores, but I can assure you that individuals which cluster together in ferro-metallic structures such as this are usually safe to eat.

mushrooms7

You’re welcome.

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Doing Some Chalking of My Own (Sigyn Speaks)

Loki thinks that sidewalk-chalking is sappy (though he was very sweet to me about that last one we saw.)  I think it’s adorable, and I want to do some of my own!

But I don’t want to step on the toes of the wonderful people leaving all the inspirational quotes.  What should I do?  Hmmm.  I will need to think about this.

I know!  I can help support all the walkers and homeschoolers (and homeschooling walkers, hee hee!) by being educational.

Lots of folks are plant-blind.  Maybe I can work against that a little bit—encourage people to literally stop and smell the flowers.  I read about someone in France leaving labels on urban wildflowers.  I bet that would work here!  I don’t know all of them, but I can do the ones I know!

These are bright and cheerful!  They’re sure to get someone’s attention.

sidewalk-chalk3

False dandelions are not quite the same color as the true ones.  (The eensiest bit less gold and a smidge more lemon.)

Ooh!  Ooh!  Look!  See this little fluffy yellow one?

sidewalk-chalk2

It’s Neptunia pubescens, and  the showy bits are the stamens.

Another little yellow one.

sidewalk-chalk1

Hee hee hee!  I guess I just like yellow!

But here’s one that’s different!

sidewalk-chalk4

Don’t you just love that electric blue color?

It’s a little bit sad to think that the labels will wear off pretty quickly, and the flowers will fade, too.

But here’s something I can label that will be around for a long time!

sidewalk-chalk7

Chalk wears down really quickly on concrete!  I might need some of that fat, colorful, specially-for-side-walks chalk…

Almost out of chalk for today.  I’ve just enough left to leave a message on the walkway that goes by the big storm-water collection area.

sidewalk-chalk8

 

It’s the best song ever!     (Listen–it will make you smile!)

: )

A Beautiful and Unexpected Visitor!

By Jormundandr’s shimmering, scaly snout!  My summoning spells WORKED.  Look who showed up in the yard today!

[Ophidiophobes, scroll no further]

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.

.

.

.

snakeinthegrass1

Two feet of sleek black beauty with a lovely golden belly and a cute, turned-up nose.

I tried to persuade him to stick around chat, but he was in a terrible hurry.  People to see, toads to eat, and all that.

Come back, my beautiful hog-nose!  We could do so many wicked things together!*

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*The human female isn’t afraid of snakes, but she has a very excellent startle reflex.

I Like to Call it a “Neener Walk”

This morning, we are returning to the walking path that runs by the Large, Ugly Apartments, the traversal of which can absolutely be construed as a big, nose-thumbing neener-neener-neener 

At this time of year, the flora can change from week to week.  The human female and Sigyn are hoping for different flowers than we saw last time.

The thistles are in full, fluffy bloom and, to quote my beloved, “really, really dangle-worthy!”

neener-thistle

Look at her!  It never ceases to amaze me how she can hang upside down so soon after breakfast without revisiting her toast.

Having a little post-dangle rest in a patch of yellow evening primroses that are cousins to the big pink ones in the lawn.

neener-oenothera

The squeaky noise you hear is my sweetie exclaiming over these tiny blue vetch flowers.

neener-vetch

Great Frigga’s hairpins!  What is this one?  The tiny flowers are in tight little bunches, and the fruits are covered with little prickles.  It looks as if it would love to latch onto someone’s socks!  Eeeeevil, and I like it!  But be careful that you do not get any  caught in your hair, my love.

neener-torilis

The human female says it is something non-native called “knotted hedge parsley.”  I think she has a device somewhere with little spinners—spin them and it generates random strings of botanical nonsense.  It’s the only thing that makes sense.

This is its equally foreign, equally huggy cousin, regular hedge-parsley.

neener-limnosciadium

Ah!  Spiderworts!  A perennial favorite.  (Literally—they’re perennial.)

neener-trad

They’re a marvelous, clear color that almost makes me prefer blue over greenAlmost.

Hey, Sigyn!  I know it’s not exactly the same, but look–it’s a lot like your last year’s All Hallow’s Eve costume!

neener-coreopsis

Red and yellow together.  Sigyn thinks it doesn’t get much better than this!

This is a very fine path indeed.  We have yet to traverse it to its end.  The humans have a theory that, if followed to its conclusion, it would come out behind the houses not too far from our residence.  Perhaps today we shall put on our Intrepid Traveler hats and see where it goes.

Thirty feet beyond the end of the pavement:

neener-ravine

Or maybe not.

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