Vaccinium arboreum

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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Making the Most of Fleeting Beauty

I can refuse my beloved Sigyn nothing, so here we are again, crunch, crunch, crunch, enjoying the little bit of fall color and drifting leaves that the thirtieth parallel affords.

The Virginia creeper seems to be trying to outdo all the other vines.

If it doesn’t feel like being red, sometimes it will opt for copper.

And if that doesn’t do it, there’s always the gradient effect.

About the only color it doesn’t do is lemon yellow. Good thing the little passionflower has that nailed down.

The trees and shrubs are vying for attention, too. Winged elm can’t seem to decide if it wants to be yellow or orange.

This one has settled on burnt orange,

which should be illegal in a town in which everything is required by law to be Aggie Maroon, but whatever.

Farkleberry is adhering to the maroon law as best it can. There are usually some maroon leaves in with the red ones.

(This year the fruits have hung on much longer than normal. Where were the birds that were supposed to have eaten them up over the summer?)

Shining Sumac can be counted on for a consistent, bright red.

SIgyn would be just as happy if everything were this color. I keep trying to explain that if everything were red, nothing would stand out and she’d grow tired of it quickly. She says that might be true but it would be “fun to try it out for a few days.”

The willows down by the mostly-dry-creek have gone enthusiastically yellow.

That photo doesn’t really do them justice.

The hickory, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be trying AT ALL.

Sigyn is trying to comfort it, assuring her that it is loved and valued for its sturdy wood and squirrel-treat nuts and that it is beautiful in its own way. My love, how can you appreciate any fall color with your rose-colored-glasses affixed so firmly to your lovely face?

The Bushy Bluestem has also opted for brown this year.

What it lacks in glamor it makes up in poofiness.

Where foliage fails, the fruit can sometimes be counted on to supply the color deficit. Beautyberry is always happy to provide that color that defies classification.

I don’t know what it looks like on your phone/computer/tablet, etc., but to my eyeballs, it’s a very, very obnoxious fuchsiamagentapurplepink not found anywhere else in nature except a rare species of sea slug that inhabits the waters off of Borneo.

(I made that last bit up. Might be true. Might not. Can’t be arsed to check.)

Greenbriar has luscious-looking fruit.

And let us not have that tiresome argument about whether black is a color or not. This isn’t optics, this is botany, and anyone who has played with the berries, pulling out their rubbery-snot innards to see how far they’ll stretch, can vouch for just how dyed their fingers are for the next day or so. It’s color. Case closed.

Well, this has been a lot of walking and a good deal of dangling and poking. Sigyn, see if you can find us a soft, pretty place to rest before we make the long trip back home.

Is she the best, or what?

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Ha! I was right!

Purple Sea Slug (Chromodoris sp.) | Sea slug, Slugs, Sea

An Autumnal Perambulation– Fall Color!

The cooler weather means it’s no longer a hardship to go out and get a little exercise. There is certainly plenty to look at. While this part of Midgard does not, as a rule, enjoy a particularly colorful season in terms of changing tree foliage, there is some color to be had if you know where to look.

Shining sumac, at least, is holding up the red end of the fall spectrum.

Those red leaflets will soon fall off. Until they do, this is one of Sigyn’s favorite plants.

Look! There’s a tree that has begun to color up nicely!

Sweet glittering bifrost! Closer inspection reveals that this is not, in fact, a tree with colored leaves. Or rather, it’s a tree, and there are colored leaves, but they don’t belong to the tree. It’s a dead tree, completely enrobed in fall-tinted poison ivy. I wonder if I can trick the human female into collecting herself a a nice big sample …?

Farkleberry can always be counted on for some nice maroon tones.

How about fuchsia?

This little purslane is close kin to the larger moss roses people in these parts like to grow in the summer. With their succulent leaves, both kinds can take a lot of drought and heat, but fall is a good time to find these wild ones.

And finally, some floral fireworks in the form of exuberantly yellow goldenrod.

Sigyn, my treasure, you look mighty pretty up there! (Oh, and see the elm leaves in the background, human female? That’s what a native elm looks like. You’re welcome.)

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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 Somewhat Subversive Walk

Long-time minions may recall that Sigyn and I used to favor a walk to the small pond that used to be in our neighborhood.  You may also recall that some money-grubbing developer from the Big City to the South came and bulldozed away that pond to build some Large, Ugly Apartments.  I swore, then, that I would get back at him someday.  Sigyn can’t go past the place without mourning a little, for the trees and the turtles.

NO ONE makes my Sigyn cry and goes unpunished.

Today, on our morning walk, we have spotted what looks like a little trail that runs between the Large, Ugly Apartments and a small, remaining bit of woodland that’s too wild and wet to develop.  I believe it’s supposed to be a private walking path for the sole use of the residents of the LUA.

It is, therefore, very much in the spirit of a big, nose-thumbing neener-neener-neener that we are taking this path, to thoroughly enjoy whatever we can spot in the woods by its side.  (Since the human female is once again stumping about with her foot in an aircast boot, she is not very keen on going out to larger, wetter, muddier woods.  Sigyn and I may have to go without her.  We miss the sedge meadow.)

These are some very dense woods, and they go right up to the edge of the sidewalk.  There are all sorts of things in the understory–hollies, beautyberries, sumac, saplings of oak and elm, and something–look, Sigyn!  Do you see that small tree with white—

April vaccinium

… flowers?  Well, that didn’t take long.  She scurried up that thing like she was greeting an long-lost friend.  And, in a sense, I suppose she is, since farkleberry is an old and dear acquaintance.  It’s good to know there are still some in the neighborhood.

Stump.  Pause.  Stump.  Pause.  Stump.  Pause.  Norns’ nighties, woman!  You are slow enough in the boot, do you have to stop and look at every single blossom, as well?

I haven’t had my breakfast yet, and I might be a tad impatient.  But Sigyn’s having fun, so I will do my best to quiet my rumbly tummy and resign myself to our positively doddering pace.

I suppose this is a good place to walk.  There are purple spiderworts at the edge of the treeline and some wood sorrel and–sniff, sniff!–something very fragrant up ahead.

Ah.  Honeysuckle.

honeysuckle

Sigyn is delighted since it smells so good, and I’m delighted because the human female loathes the stuff.  Not only is it an invasive exotic, she says, but even though the nectar is supposed to be sippable, she tried it once and spent the rest of the night puking.  Ehehehe!  I’d have paid money to see that.  I wonder if the nectar is detectable if mixed into, say, lemonade?

Great Frigga’s corset!  What is that?

s-orchid2

The flowers make a double spiral up the stem.

Oh, right.  Sigyn, do you remember when we saw the orchids on your favorite outcrop in the next county over?  I think these may be something similar.  Go stand next to some for scale.

s-orchid4

Well, I suppose dangling is as good as standing…

The human female says they are called “greenvein ladies’ tresses”, on account of the green veins on the lower lip of each blossom.  What a fun find!

I shall place a protection spell on all of the pretty white flowers we’ve found this morning (yes, mortal, even the honeysuckle), and a spell of crabgrass, grubs, and pestilence on the boring mowed lawn of the LUA just on the other side of the path.

And I shall not leave unscathed the LUA’s gaudy advertising, afflicting all of their golden “permanent” balloons with an irreversible case of flopsia.

deflated

So there.

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A Very Colorful Fall Walk

The recent local weather (hot cold hot cold rainy sunny cold hot again), while making wardrobe deliberations a maddening ordeal with at best a 50-50 percent chance of success, have had an unexpected effect.  The local flora, famous for not giving a fig for seasonal expectations and remaining green until January, has decided, for once, to oblige Sigyn’s longing for a colored autumn.

We have therefore embarked upon a tour of the yard, the surrounding neighborhood, and the park at the end of the street, in order to take in all the offerings on this bright and sunny afternoon.

crapemyrtle

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cedar elm

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pecan

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woolly bucket or gum bumelia (both ludicrous names)

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upland swamp privet (an oxymoron if I ever heard one)

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yaupon holly

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post oak

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aster

fallcolor7-aster

winged elm

fall-color8-elm

farkleberry

fall-color-9-vaccinium

bitterweed

fall-color10-helenium

more asters

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more yaupon

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ditto (can you tell Sigyn really likes holly?)

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greenbriar

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a whole galaxy of asters  (Time for a little rest.  Dangling is hard work)

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white mulberry

fall-color-mulberry

miniature dragon

fall-walk-lizard

poison ivy  (Go on, human female, pat the pretty plant!)

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more mulberry

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copperleaf (Aptly named, I’d say.)

fall-color-acalypha

More elmage

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honey locust

fall-color-honeylocust

bald cypress

fall-color-bald-cypress

yet more elms

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many shot of a truly splendid farkleberry

fall-color-vacciniumfall color-vaccinium2fall-color-more vaccinium

blackjack oak

fall-blackjack oakfall-color blackjack oak2fall-color-blackjack3

They say some medieval craftsman invented stained glass.  I’m not so sure.

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A Very Colorful Fall Walk, Part I: A Mighty Pretty Palette

I asked the human female, and it isn’t my imagination.  The autumns are definitely becoming more colorful around here.  I’m not sure if it’s all the extra rain or the combination of mild days and cool nights or what, but things do seem a little extra bright this year.

(The fact that Sigyn loves colored leaves so much has nothing to do with it. Nope.  I absolutely did not up the xanthophyll and carotenoid content of the foliage. That’s preposterous!  Not I!  No way would I meddle…

…Well, okay.  Maybe I helped a little.)

Sigyn and the human female are doing one of their Neighborhood Walks to have a look at all the colors.  I’ve tagged along to make sure that Sigyn comes to no harm.

The bald cypress trees around town have outdone themselves this year.

taxodium

One of my favorite pranks is to tell clueless gardeners that all those falling rust-colored needles means that the tree is dying and should be cut down immediately.  I once got a landscape professional to cut down a whole ROW of them at a botanical garden, before someone applied a clue-by-four to his empty noggin.

Even some of the oaks have colored up this year.  This blackjack has a distinctly rosy tint to its usual paper-bag brown.

blackjack

For sheer brilliance, though, nothing can beat sumac.

sumac

It’s very nearly the perfect place for my beloved to hide!  But I see you!

The farkleberries are sporting some Aggie Maroon,

farkleberry1

As well as some missed-by-the-birds blue-black fruit and one very graceful half-Asgardian dangler.

Other plants have fruit too.  These yellow nightshade berries may look like little tomatoes,

nightshade

but they are not even remotely edible.

Bet I could sneak some into the next batch of the human female’s stir-fry…

Oh. There you go.  It was only a matter of time.  Sigyn has found her favorite perch.

yaupon1

No matter what’s on offer, she always seems to like sitting in holly bushes best.

yaupon2

Looks like a bumper crop of fruit for the yaupons this year.

possumhaw

And the possumhaw is decked out as well.

It’s been a full morning of admiring and dangling–and we haven’t even made it halfway around the block yet!

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A May Walk, Part II: Blossoms and Berries

We are ambling today toward the pond a few streets over.  There are a lot of things blooming, so our progress, if you can call it that, is very, very s  l  o  w.  Sigyn usually likes to leave the flowers where they are, but today there are so many “cute” ones that she can’t help herself and is gathering a bouquet.

bouquet0

Sigyn, I think it might be bigger than you are.

bouquet

Definitely bigger than you are.  Do you need some help carrying it?  Or shall I magic it back home and into a vase for you?  Done!  Let’s see what else there is.

vaccinium.jpg

The farkleberry is LATE in flowering this year.  This should be an April thing.  Rats!  This means the farkleberries will be late, too.

The dewberries are a bit late as well.  No, Sigyn!  Don’t go crawling and picking the red ones to eat!

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Norns’ nighties!  I have to tell her every year.  It’s the BLACK ones you want!  BLACK is ripe!

blackberry1

There you go.

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Six or seven good ones and we can make a pie as big as you!

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