walkies

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.

physalis

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.

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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.

winged elm.jpg

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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A Walk a Long Time Coming, Part II: The Fallout

No good walk goes unpunished.  No, wait.  That’s not right, is it?  Perhaps it is sort-of-right, because ever since Sigyn returned home from our walk in the woods the other day she doesn’t want to stop “doing nature.”  What is it you want today, my love?

Ah.

TMN-LCP-leafpile

What Sigyn wants is to roll around in crunchy fallen leaves on the back patio.  Yes, it’s fun, but it can also be a little itchy.

And what’s that you have there?  I do not recognize those.

TMN-LCP-persimmonseeds

Persimmon seeds?  From the local, deliciously edible wild persimmon?  Excellent!  It would be nice to plant them and see if we can get a female tree to grow.  Where did you come by them?

You picked them up on our walk at the park?  I did not see them on the ground.   All I saw was the big pile of fur-filled coyote scat (those creatures will eat anything) and…

Oh, sweetie, tell me you didn’t…

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A Walk a Long Time Coming, Part I: Actual Real Live Nature

The human female’s stupid bum foot (not to mention her super-lazy bum) have conspired to keep her largely out of the woods and byways in the last year.  Today, however, she has traded her air-cast for a lace-up brace and jammed her pitiful trotters into her hiking boots.  The local chapter of Texas Master Nature Nerds has asked her to lead a field trip in her beloved Lick Creek Park, and she daren’t miss that.

We’ve had the first real cold front of the season and it’s a crisp, sunny morning.  Here and there, there are a few trees that have made a half-hearted attempt at fall color.

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A few have even been successful.

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Unfortunately, we are sitting in a cedar elm, and the leaves are scratchy as heck.

Sigyn, true to form, has found a holly to sit in.  Whatever she sits in, she seems to like hollies best.  The leaves are definitely smoother.

tmn-lcp-yaupon

Fruit’s not quite ripe yet, but that’s all right.  We’re not planning on eating it.

The fruit on this one is edible, but it’s a summer thing, so there isn’t any now.

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The human says it’s called gum bumelia or woolly-bucket.  Sigyn likes it because the leaves are fuzzy underneath.  Careful, dearest!  Fuzzy is not always friendly, and this one sometimes has thorns that can extremely poke-y.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… The human female has been walking and talking for THREE HOURS NOW.  Isn’t there any way to make her shut up?  Great Frigga’s corset!  Now she’s pointing and squealing.  What on earth could be worth such a fuss?

Ah.  That explains it.  Sigyn, get someone to boost you up—we’ll want to get a photo of you with this one.

TMN-LCP-orchid

Nodding ladies’ tresses, a dainty little terrestrial orchid that comes up in the woods in the fall.  It has a close cousin that is even rarer, and it’s out here too, but we haven’t found any today.

Still, it’s been good to get out of the house, hasn’t it?  The human female is sure to be stiff and balky tomorrow, but we could leave her home and come out again by ourselves.

Yes? It’s a date!

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Nerds in the Woods, Part I: Something New

Long-time minions may have noticed that there haven’t been many nature walk this year.  The human female’s bum feet have kept her pretty close to home.  Today, though, she is back out in the woods.  Our favorite “wilderness” park is now home to a brand-new Nature Center.  The city has been building the thing for years, now, and it is finally done!

Let’s go on a quick tour and see what all the fuss is about.  I’ll be the judge of whether what we have now is better than all the trees, flowers, and grass they ripped up to put it in.  Hmm.  Curved roof, big empty room, smaller empty room,  concrete amphitheater, outdoor classroom, very-angular-not-shapes-found-in-nature sidewalks, gardens.  I must say, I’m not impressed.  No doubt it will be nicer when the city gets around to filling it with actual science.  The human female and her coworkers have provided lots of checklists and texts for displays, but none of them are up yet.  Therefore, there is still time for me to introduce misspellings, misidentifications, and various plausible yet completely erroneous “facts” into anything that goes up.

Sigyn wants a closer look at the gardens, and I’m happy enough to oblige.

Oh, these are reasonably attractive, and the butterflies seem to approve of them.

pentas

The human female is put out, though, because these pentas are not native, and she knows she thoroughly vetted the landscape plans and provided a list of attractive native plants.

Uh, oh.  The plantings also include tropical milkweed, shrimp plant, two kinds of Cuphea,, Mexican mint marigold, butterfly bush,  and powderpuff, none of which are native.  The human female has that pinched, twitchy expression she gets when there is something—or someone—who desperately needs correcting.  Best to move on before there is an incident.

What have we here?   Ah.  Various groups of nature lovers have set up booths and tables with educational displays, games, and assorted activities.  The human female is supposed to take a turn manning one of the booths.  Let’s see what’s afoot.

Hmm.  What’s all this brown cloth?  I am fairly certain that Unrepentant Package Squashers was not invited to this gathering!

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And what is it they’re selling?

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Oh.  The ubiquitous Midgardian garment-cum-billboard, the T-shirt.  And it has a leaf on it.  How quaint.

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Oh, look—they’re for sale.  Remember:  You too can advocate for the park and be a Friend and have Friends, but it’ll cost you..

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