walkies

Big Green Brain Thingies

On a previous visit to the outcrop, Sigyn and I encountered the botanical equivalent of the human female’s brain.

Today, we have encountered the same strangeness again.   There’s a tree near where the car is parked, and it has dropped a number of heavy, green, brain fruits.

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They really do look like brains—or something from another planet (not Asgard–I think I would remember something like this!)

The human female says that there are seeds inside, buried in the sticky gluey fibers.   But what would want to chew through all the brain matter to get to them?  What is the dispersal agent for these things?  They tend to fall off and land right under the tree, which is an inferior reproductive strategy.  (Even I could tell you that.)

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She says that scientists believe that there had to be something at one time that was very large and capable of eating these things without too much chewing, so that the seeds would come out intact in its… um… “poo.”

She says the front runner theory says it was Giant Ground Sloths.  Now she’s just making stuff up.  Odin’s eyepatch, woman!  If you don’t know, just SAY so.

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A Visit To an Old Friend

Last year the human female’s bad trotters kept her off the outcrop that’s home to the rare plant she studies.  But this year, things are a bit better, and we finally have a bit of a break in the rain, so we’re off to see if the Agalinis is blooming this year.

It’s a nice day for a drive.  I can’t wait to get there, because after being cooped up indoors with the human female for ever because of the rain, it’s just more torture to be cooped up in the car with her for another forty minutes!

The landowners aren’t home today, so we’ll have to park on the roadside at the base of the outcrop, walk down to it, and then climb up.  Do you have your sturdy shoes, Sigyn?  I would hate for you to turn your pretty ankle.

Opposite the base of the outcrop is a fence full of yellow camphorweed.

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It smells good in the sun and is not too bad for dangling, though barbed wire and horns do not mix.

On the outcrop, the first thing that has caught my beloved’s eye is this dayflower.  Electric blue really stands out against the greens and tawny browns of the grasses.

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It appears to be a banner year for asters.  There are purple ones and an entire galaxy of white ones.

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The shining goldenrod is right where the human female left it last time she was here.

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Perennials are so predictable.

And,  yes!  Yes, there it is!  The Agalinis navasotensis is in bloom!

agalinis

Now that we know it’s in flower, the human female and her colleague will need to get down to business and count* the plants carefully and mapping their positions with a GPS unit. (GPS is Midgardian shorthand for “Gotta Pinpoint Something”).

That sounds like work.  I think I will leave it to them and just relax here on this moss tuffet.

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The Rightful Ruler of Midgard does NOT do fieldwork.

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* Not that I believe for a second that the human female will be of any use once she runs out of fingers

My Favorite Fall Color, Part I: Mostly Red (Sigyn Speaks)

It’s here!  It’s really here!

At long last, the calendar and East Texas are in synch–IT’S FALL!!!

The days are still warm, but I think, I think, we’ve seen the last of the really nasty heat.  The mornings are cool, the nights are sleepable, the mockingbirds are singing and swooping for territory, and it has done nothing recently but rain.  (The lawn is so happy!)

Loki and I are out for a little walk between showers.  The neighborhood is fine, but there is a lot to see right around the house.  And a lot of it is RED!

I would know it is fall if this was the only plant I saw.

schoolhouse-lilies

Schoolhouse lilies!  They just pop right up without leaves.  The first ones nose their way up out of the grass every year when the fall semester starts.  The human female says she started with three bulbs.   There must be many more of them by now, because the flowers pop up a few every day for weeks.  I just want to hug them!

This red sage flowers off and on all year, but it really likes fall best.

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The hummingbirds like it a lot, and so do I!  It’s pretty good for dangling.

The hummers like the Turk’s cap even better.

turkscap

I’ve always wanted to pet a hummingbird–they are just too cute, and they have the sweetest little squeaky voices!  Maybe if I put up a feeder and sat on it…

The humming birds like the morning-glories, too.  They aren’t red, but they are native, which is a good thing.

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They’ve crawled all over the compost heap’s enclosure, scrambled up the sapling hackberry by the driveway, and climbed into the neighbor’s holly tree.

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It’s very festive every morning!

They have spread down the side of the house and overrun the iris bed and the little, useless fencey bit.

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Not to mention the other side of the fencey bit and the rest of the irises.

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There are some in the front yard as well.  It all comes of not weeding very much, but what a happy accident!

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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.

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C’est un très beau chapeau!

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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.

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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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A Late Yule Gift, Part III: The Big Reveal

Now that I have fixed all the mistakes that those two morons made, the moment has come to present Sigyn with her gift.

Close your eyes, my beloved!  No peeking!

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All right!   Now you may open them!

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What do you think, Sigyn?  He’s all yours!  Do you like him?  I built him all by myself.

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And do you see that his front feet are facing the proper direction?

Awww!  Look at that!  She’s already taught him how to shake hands!

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Who’s a good boy?

Sigyn is so good with creatures.   She already has him walking perfectly on a leash!

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Sigiyn likes to ride things…

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Time for walkies!

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