tillandsia usneoides

Well, All Right–If I Get to BURN Something

The humans are traveling to the Big City to the South today. The Knittery Friend’s two youngest children are being given a bath today. Or given names. Something everyone is dressing up and going to church for, at any rate. I have declined to attend, of course, but I am tagging along on this expedition because there are rumors that a) the reception is to be held outdoors in a large park, and “park” equates to “plants”, so Sigyn wants to go; b) there will be food, possibly including cake; and c) it is cold today and I believe I heard the word “firepit” mentioned. If I can eat and burn things while Sigyn chats and looks at plants, I shall consider the trip worth the effort.


I am given to understand that the church-y part of the day’s activities went well, despite the sleep-deprived father of the twins answering with his sons’ middle names when asked why he was present. Such a non-sequitur will be talked of for years. I almost wish I had been present to witness it. Almost. (I am allergic to pews.)

Now we are trying to find the park where the reception is to be. One might wonder why it is outdoors on one of the coldest days we have had this winter. The reason is because there are nearly a score of younglings among the guests, and no one interior venue seems sufficient to house such a large, active group. This way, they can run about and shout to their little hearts’ delight, while the older, wiser attendees get on with the eating and burning.

Is this the right turn? The human female says it is. The human male’s phone says it is not. We could still be meandering here next Tuesday unless–oh, wait. Both the female and the phone are correct–one can reach the park from either end of a long and rather wind-y road. Now, we just need to look for a large pavilion, a lot of cars, and–I hope–a fire of goodly size.


It seems large and empty now, but once it is full of food and people, I’m sure it will be cheerful and noisy enough.

Sigyn, while we await the food, let us explore the park. Though it is quite chilly, the sun is shining, and there may be Interesting Plants.

The woods in this park are not like the woods at home. The soil is acid and sandy, rather than alkaline and full of clay. There are a good many pine trees, and the understory is not yaupon holly.

Instead, it appears to be a plant I have heard the human female call Carolina laurel-cherry. She says one can recognize it “by the two small glands on the underside of the leaf, one on each side of the leafstalk.” Do you see any glands, Sigyn? I’m not sure I know what they’re supposed to look like.

There is also rather a lot of Spanish moss in the trees here.

I’m not sure who named this plant, but they did a terrible job, because it is neither Spanish nor a moss. Upon further reflection, I suspect it was the human female. It’s just the sort of stupid name she’d come up with. At any rate, the festoons are fun to swing upon.

What is down this trail?

More pine trees and more cherry laurel, probably. But no food and most likely no firepit. We would be wise to stick close to the pavilion.

We are now exploring the shore of the pond that is near the pavilion.

Careful, Sigyn! It may look like solid ground, but I have the feeling it is probably pretty squishy. One false step and you could be in mud up to your eyebrows. While you would still be adorable if covered in mud and decaying plant matter, I am sure you would be more comfortable if you were not cold, wet, and squelchy. In fact, you would probably be more comfortable now if you were warmer. Let us go and see if the promised fire has been achieved.

The verdict is–

More or less. Despite the presence of multiple boy scouts, it seems to have taken quite a while to get the blaze to catch. Everything has been tried–paper, fire-starter packs, twigs, pine cones, wood scraps–you name it. It is only thanks to the aid of one of my special inferno spells that it’s doing as well as it is. Where would you foolish mortals be without Loki, patron deity of pyromaniacs?

Now—show me where the human female is standing, so I know which direction to make the smoke go.

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A Blursday Walk in the Woods

A cold front blew through between Tuesday night and Wednesday, bringing bright, breezy fall weather. Today it is eleven kinds of windy. The human female, undeterred by the sheer tonnage of ragweed and sumpweed pollen in the air, has dragged us all out to Lick Creek Park to take advantage of the non-sweltering weather.

With all of this wind, the likelihood of good plant photographs in focus is small, but the humans both have their cameras with them anyhow. Let the blurry photos commence!

The pink muhly grass by the nature center is whipping about in a very graceful manner.

The one the human female has planted in front of the house isn’t as big or as pink, but it is trying.

We are seeing quite a bit of the formerly-a-mystery white bidens in the Great Desolation. We managed to catch some of it in focus.

The asters not so much.

While the human female is bigger than she should be, she is still not large enough to make an effective windbreak to keep the plants still so that the male can photograph them. Hence, images like this weirdly-out-of-season black-eyed susan:

Real prize-winner, that one.

The human female says she hasn’t been down Raccoon Run trail in a few years, so that’s where we’re going. It appears to have been widened, but it’s still rather pretty. There are a fair number of large hickories and a lot of frostweed in flower.

The sun is shining though the sumac leaves.

There are some unusual plants along this trail. I didn’t recognize this one at first,

and I didn’t believe her when the human female said it was a palm tree. Palms? In the forest? But yes, this is the native sabal palmetto, and this is about as big as they get.

The stem or trunk is underground. Up close, I can see that the leaves really are pleated like a paper fan.

Some of the trees down here in the bottomland are just festooned with this gray stuff.

The human female says it is an epiphytic bromeliad that likes to live on trees so it can be up in the sun and humid air, which sounds plausible. She also says it is a relative of pineapple and has little green flowers, which sounds entirely bogus. (I never believe more than half of what she says, anyway.)

Shhh! Sigyn, did you hear that? It sounded like a tiny little shriek. There it is again! It’s coming from that thick vegetation right over there. The human female says it’s a small frog in distress. Given that the human male just saw the back half of a snake disappear into the same clump of foliage, I suspect what we’re hearing is the batrachian version of, “Oh, no! Don’t eat me! Help!”, but I’m just going to tell Sigyn that it’s two local creatures meeting for lunch, which is perfectly true.

Another wind-blurred photo:

They look like little yellow tomatoes and are the fruit of one of the native nightshades. Hmm. Salad for dinner some time this week, I think. The human female had better not lose another of my helmets out here in the woods or she will find some in her serving.

Unfortunately, there is an awful lot of non-native vegetation in this part of the park as well. Chinaberry, ligustrum, Japanese honeysuckle, and Chinese tallow tree are the main ne’er-do-wells. The human female is snapping saplings and hauling down vines and resolving to come out again with a) help, b) a saw, c) clippers, d) some brush killer for painting stumps, and e) some napalm. Okay, that last was my addition to the game plan, but you must admit, it sounds like fun!

What have you discovered over there, my love?

It’s like she has a little baldacchino! (You can look that up later.)

Looks like we are headed back to the vehicle now, having made the complete loop–without, I point out, seeing a single raccoon. I feel cheated and shall be complaining to the management at the first opportunity.

Odin’s Eyepatch! The human female just fell down! One minute she was walking and the next, BOOM! I don’t know if she rolled an ankle or if a rock moved under her foot, but here she is, splat on the trail with her limbs waving like a cockroach in its death throes. The male is helping her up, and I don’t see blood (though I bet that knee is skinned under those jeans), so presumably she is mostly all right. Who knows? It might just be a pitiful bid for attention. Let us continue!

Hold! There is something odd in the path up ahead (and I am not talking about the toddler making a puddle, though that is outside the normal realm of goings-on). Sigyn, do you see?

I do hope he’s not on his way to have lunch with his cousin down on the loop trail. If he is, I fear he shall find his kinsman…unavailable.

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