nature

Nerds in the Woods 2019, Part III: Sometimes Nature is Soft and Sometimes It is Sad and Sometimes it Slithers

I have grown bored of crayons.  Sigyn, don’t you want to walk around and see what the other booths have on offer?  After all, it might be educational

The Bird Team has a charming display of nests and eggs.

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No, Sigyn, I do not think these will hatch.

There is also a clever bird game. One uses an electric stylus to touch the metal stud of a bird photo and then the stud next to its name, the object being to correctly identify the winged things and get a colored light, not a buzzer.

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Sigyn, of course, has zeroed in on the bright red cardinal, a bird she knows very well.  I have correctly identified the mockingbird, an avian after my own heart.  They really are superb mimics!  I have hopes of training the ones in our home neighborhood to say, “You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny!” whenever the human female appears and to repeat, “Thor is a poophead,” at intervals in between.

The Mammal table lets one trace animal tracks and color them in.  I am reminded of the time I put a raccoon under the hood of the human female’s car.  That was one of my best pranks!  I still laugh every time I think about it.

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Raccoons have such cute feet.  They look like little baby hands.  They have handsome fur as well.

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No, Sigyn, please do not cry!  Of course this fellow was not killed for his skin!  Nor was it taken from his body after his spirit went to join his ancestors in Procyanid Valhalla.  It, um, was just really hot one day and he took it off to cool down and, erm, go swimming.  He…forgot where he put it, yes, that’s just what he did, and he went and bought himself a new one.  So you see, it is absolutely not tragic and you can just go ahead and enjoy petting it.

(Good thing I think quickly and have a silver tongue, else my beloved would be most distressed.)

Let us proceed to the next table.  I have heard that they have live reptiles–and you know I cannot resist a good snake!

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And that is a VERY good snake!  Come to Loki, you sleek black beauty!  The human female can have her plants and Sigyn her crayons and tin buses.  THIS is what Nerds in the Woods is all about!

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Nerds in the Woods 2019, Part I: Poking at Plants

Longtime readers may recall that Sigyn and I have on more than one occasion accompanied the human female to the annual Nerds in the Woods gathering.  This is a one- or two-day event, during which nerdy naturalists seek to catalog all of the various bloomy, flappy, squiggly, crawly and otherwise organic entities in the local Lick Creek Park.

In the Olden Days, the human female used to head up the plant team.  She spared no efforts, traipsing to remote parts of the part to compile her long lists of herbiage, things with (no doubt made-up) names like “daisy fleabane,” pinweed,” “forked blue curls,” and “rosettegrass.”  Several years ago, I tipped the organizers of the event off to just how hard she worked her fellow volunteers and how tedious she is with her constant bragging about how there are “more plants in the park than anything else, blah, blah, blah…”  So they stopped inviting her.  She volunteered to help out.  They unvolunteered her.  Cue moping, which was more tedious than the endless stream of botanical trivialities.

This year, much to my astonishment and dismay, the local chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas asked her to sit in at their table.  Oh, foolish mortals.  You will now never be free of this tiresome limpet!  Remind me to point and laugh later, when you are ready to stuff socks in her mouth to shut her up,  and remind you that you brought it on yourselves. 

Come Sigyn, let us accompany her.  I know that you are capable of strolling through the woods without nattering on, so for your sake, I will subject myself to a car ride with her.  We can always sneak away from her when we get there.

We are now here.  The NPSOT table is plunked down in the middle of a big patch of this:

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Whatever “this” is…  Do you recognize it, my love?

By Idunn’s little apples!  Sigyn says it is heartwing sorrel, a useful plant to know because the leaves are edible.  I would never have guessed.  My sweetie always knows the best things!  She even says she knows of a good recipe for potato-sorrel soup, something involving heavy cream, chicken stock, potatoes, and this little bit of the wild herbiness.  (You know, once chopped up, one bit of greenery looks much like the next.  I wonder if I could make the human female a pottage of lawn clippings and get her to eat it, telling her it was this?  I bet she’d be half a bowl in before she suspected anything amiss…)

Now the human female is wandering away from the table, tallying up the various species in evidence today.  She and Sigyn have zeroed in on this bright pink posy.

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The human female says it’s a prairie gentian.  It’s not very big, but Sigyn is even less big, so she needs a boost to see the yellow markings on the petals.  There are at least seven species in that photo–it’s a good year for wildflowers!

Come my love, let us leave the human female to her clipboard and census-taking.  While she’s peering at grasses and sedges, let us make our escape.  See–over there?  The electric blue of your favorite, spiderwort.

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The camera scarcely does them justice!

And it would not be spring without the annual Sigyn-admiring-the-scarlet-pimpernel picture.

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Sigyn is making happy squeaky noises at the minuscule yellow Sisyrinchium with the maroon eye-ring too.  She likes the flowers that are “Sigyn-sized.”  Be careful, though, dearest, as some dog-walkers have not heeded the injunction about cleaning up after their pets.  There are fire ants about, as well.

Ah.  No fire ants and no doggie “presents” up here in this juniper tree.  No, nothing but shade and sunshine and a nice breeze and some curious blue-gray berries.

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Yes, dearest, I know they’re not really berries.  They’re “fleshy female cones, each with one to four seeds and a covering of grayish wax. They have traditionally been used to season meat, especially game, and some kinds provide the flavoring for gin.”

What?  I’m not allowed to know botanical facts?  You wound me!  I am a man of many talents and much knowledge!

Also, the human female leaves her books lying about and sometimes I am really bored.

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The Pitter-Patter of a Thousand Tiny Feet

If my aching head is anything to go by, the humans have been having a fun visit with the female’s mother and sister, who were successfully fetched from the Big City to the West.  They’ve done nothing but laugh screech and cackle, talking a thousand miles to the minute, sunup to the wee hours and then repeat.

And eating!  Sleipnir’s fetlocks–the eating!  The human female made bacon rolls and orange sweet rolls; her mother brought a big batch of braised beef and carrots, frozen, along with two long loaves of bread; and they’ve all waddled over to the trough where we had the french toast biscuits.

Today, however, we are trying to accomplish a little peace and quiet and some exercise to offset all the loafing and munching  (and munching on loaves.)  We’ve come out to the local woodland in Lick Creek Park in the hopes of dodging the showers and seeing some blossoms.  It’s been such a cold and rainy spring that there isn’t much in flower.  The birds are singing, though, so that’s something.

Wait!  Sigyn–did you see something move?  Look–right there!  We appear to have stumbled upon some very industrious hymenopterans!

I’ll just magic a video link up there so other people can see, too.

I wonder what they’re going to do with all of that foliaceous confetti?  And I wonder if they could be induced to follow us home and commit snippage on the human female’s landscaping?

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Visiting With Old Friends (Sigyn Speaks)

It’s been more than its fair share of cold and wet this winter, but I think spring may be just around the corner!  I’ve been very busy greeting old friends!

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Hello, snowdrops!  See?  I can hang upside down, too!

Hello, daffodil!

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I’d forgotten you had such a sunny yellow face.  It’s a good look on you!

Hello, dwarf dandelion!

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Looks like you are all by yourself today.  Don’t worry!  I’m sure your cousins will be along soon.

Hello, little rosy bluet!

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And hello, park full of  bluets!!!  You don’t mind if I just flop down and bask in the sun, do you?

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I don’t care what the calendar says–if the bluets are up, it’s spring!

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Flowers From My Sweetie (Sigyn Speaks)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I surprised Loki with heart-shaped pancakes and a new tin of horn polish.  And he gave me flowers!

And not some easy-to-come-by bouquet that will just die in two days, either!  No, he took time out of his busy mischief schedule to go for a walk on campus with me, so I could enjoy all the living flowers!

The bed by the Rudder Tower is just filled with lovely, fragrant jonquils (or are they paperwhites?  I can never remember…)

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Perfect for dangling!

There were big planters full of pansies by the student center.

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I just love their little faces!  Loki is so sweet to wait while I greet each smiling blossom!

Then there were sweet williams and marigolds in with the boxwood in front of the Military Science building!

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Two more bright, fragrant flowers!  Best Valentine’s Day EVER!

‘Scuse me while I go smooch Mister Frowny.

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Flowers For My Birthday

As I noted yesterday.  It was my birthday a few days ago.  I’m now in the Post-Birthday Slump. Sigh.  Another year older and no closer to ruling Midgard.  The human female’s nasty acetone threat was hurtful too.  I am in desperate need of cheering up.

And since a happy Sigyn never fails to make me smile, we are doing what my beloved likes best, walking and looking for flowers.  No place fancy, just around the block between chilly showers.  It’s not too early for winter annuals.

See?  There’s the smile I needed!  Sherardia is an old friend.

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And the burr clover is in bloom too.  What fun!

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Of course, it’ll be more fun when it gets around to making burrs.  Watching the human female pick them out of her shoelaces and socks is one of my favorite spring traditions.

Sigyn has found one she really likes.  It’s called “cowboy satchel”—or something like that.

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Tiny, delicate white flowers, heart-shaped fruit, sturdy enough to climb—What’s not to love?

From her high perch, she has a good, close-up look at the fuzzy purple henbit blossoms.

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I will admit to liking this one as well.  Purple is a most fitting color for royalty, they say.

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As well, the flowers look like little sock puppets, all proclaiming, “Hail, Loki!  Ruler-to-be of all Midgard!”

And, since I have magic at my disposal, I can actually make them do it.

What have you found now, my love?

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“It’s a dandelion!  You can make wishes on them!”

Really?  How quaint!  And what are you going to wish for?

“That you have a wonderful year ahead!”

I tell you, mortals, this woman is too good for me.

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A Very Colorful Fall Walk, Part III: ‘Tis The Season For Poofiness

If there’s anything Sigyn likes more than colorful things, it’s fuzzy things.  Today, we seem destined to run into both.

These little asters may look daisyish and harmless now,

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but when they’re done blooming, the fluffy fruiting heads will spread these plants all over the neighborhood.  It’s a full-time job trying to keep them out of lawns and gardens.

This  bluestem grass has much the same dispersal strategy.

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I’ll have to make sure some floofs find their way into the human female’s hair and socks.

By Fenrir’s Woolly Winter Underwear!  What have we here?!

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Ah, I see now.  It’s one of those weather-prognosticating lepidopterans.  Supposely, one can tell how severe the winter is going to be by the proportion of black to rusty brown in their coats.

Judging by this nearly-all-black one, we can expect a damp and chilly winter with…

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…a ninety percent chance of snuggles.

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