walkies

The Aftermath of the Walk, Part I: Entanglements

Ugh! Going for a walk this time of year really is a torture. The sun glare is awful, the heat and humidity are brutal, and the mosquitoes are nearly Sigyn-sized this year.

The human female, as off-putting as she is on walks, while she’s spouting botanical trivia and other things I have to tune out, is even MORE repulsive once she gets back home. Red-faced, sweaty, and apt to just drop clothing wherever. Norns’ nighties! Cover up, woman! There are some things no one wants to see!

She is particularly sweaty today. Her hair is nearly dripping. If she were smart, she’d be very careful about ripping the elastic out of it and not just—

Ehehehehe! Snort! Ehehehehehe! What a moron! She didn’t count on the special tangling spell I put on it, and now that elastic is stuck, stuck, STUCK! Plop that ponytail down on the table and let’s have a look.

Gasp–Ehehehe! I volunteered to cut it out for her, but for some reason she elected to have the human male do it.

It’s like she doesn’t trust me with a pair or scissors…

>|: [

Too Hot For a Walk, But Apparently We Are Going Anyway

Newsflash, mortals. It’s summer, and it’s hot outside. Oh, the calendar says it’s still “spring,” but when the Heat Index is 106 F, it’s summer, no matter what equinoxes and solstices and tropics of whatnot say.

Still, Sigyn and the human female are keen to go walking whenever the female can drag her bloated carcass out of bed early enough to get going before the day changes from “balmy” to “humid inferno.” Believe me, as a Frost Giant, I’d prefer to do anything else, but I can never be sure Sigyn will make it home safely without my protection, so I usually tag along. Here, then, is a random assortment of images from walks around the neighborhood.

Sigyn makes new friends wherever she goes. She’s about to make a new one right outside the front door.

Look up, Sweetie! It’s one of those rolly-uppy isopods with the many strange Midgardian names.

And here is a very juicy slug!

Hmmm. Has the human female already had breakfast? ‘Cause I bet it’d go down easy…

Some of the slugs are black and velvety-looking. This one’s out for a stroll slime.

Black-velvet Leatherleaf Slug photo - lejun photos at pbase.com

I made a video! Great Frigga’s hairpins! I just looked that one up and it’s an exotic invasive! You go, funky little foreign slug! Come to our house and eat up all the human female’s flowers!

This red-eared slider turtle is a little shyer.

It says it is perfectly happy sitting in the pond by the Large Ugly Apartments all day and has no interest coming out on the bank to get acquainted.

Ugh! It really is annoyingly hot out here today! Sigyn, why don’t you greet your little floral friends and then we can go home and get out of the heat. Maybe have ice cream for lunch…

The lilac chaste tree in the front yard is looking pretty good.

Especially when you recall that I keep inviting the neighbors to butcher it periodically!

The leaves smell very good and it’s not a bad place for a dangle.

The crape myrtles are in full bloom as well. Whenever there’s wind or a good rain, the flowers fall off and make for what Sigyn says is a “very festive sidewalk.”

Many of the wildflowers are done for the year. This cut-leaved evening primrose is still prettifying the roadsides, though.

Looks like there’s some horseweed in there too.

Keen-eyed Sigyn has found the buttonweed in someone’s lawn. It looks like bluets, but the flowers are a LOT bigger. And furrier.

On the other hand, this purslane has flowers like its cousins, the cultivated, showy moss-roses, but the flowers are a lot smaller.

The human female says you can eat it. No, human female. YOU can eat it. I’m not in the habit of snacking on lawn weeds.

You can eat this one, too. Make yourself a nice salad of the leaves and add in some of the fruit when they show up.

You’ll like them—they look like tiny yellow tomatoes and are only a little bit poisonous.

And your noshing on them will eventually leave more ice cream for the rest of us.

>|: [

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.

>|: [

A Whole Walkful of Tiny, Pretty Things! (Sigyn Speaks)

Oh, my goodness! The weather has been just beautiful lately! The mornings are nice and cool and the afternoons are sunny and the flowers are just loving it! (Some rain hasn’t hurt, either!)

The human female and I are going for a walk around the neighborhood just to see what’s up. It’s too late for bluets : ( but there is sure to be something nice.

Starting with our very own lawn!

The evening primroses are pinker than they look in the photo, and they are everywhere!

So is the lyre-leaf sage. The ones coming up around the corner by the hose are nearly white, but the ones that have popped up in the lawn are purple, purple, purple.

What’s even nicer is that they’re perennial! Where they are this year, they are very likely to be again next year. When they’re done flowering, I will help the human female transplant them into the flower bed so they don’t get mowed.

That’s what’s good about the spring flora. A lot of it is short enough to pass under a mower largely unscathed. I can see the winecups in the grass of the park before we even get there.

You’d think the bright fuchsia would clash with the nearly-orange scarlet pimpernel (hee hee hee! I almost wrote “pumpernickel”!) but it doesn’t. It just makes a sort of earthbound fiesta.

The blue-eyed grass is open from about midday onwards.

The flowers are always a purply-blue, but in its miniature cousin, the flowers can be yellow, pink, lavender, pale blue, or a sort of bright arctic white, usually with a maroonish eye-ring.

They like a sandy soil, and so do herb sherard and the dwarf dandelions.

Whole sections of the lawn here are lavender and yellow orange. I just never get tired of the dwarf dandelions!

Another sand lover is this eny-weeny member of the carnation family.

I think it’s thyme-leaved sandwort, but I will have to pick a flower and take it home to key out, because there are several species that all look very much alike.

Speaking of itty-bitty white things, look at this dogshade!

It looks like lace, doesn’t it? A lot of the carrot family plants have flowers like this. It’s a good year for this plant–I’m seeing it everywhere! And do you know what? The flowers are sweetly scented! There is enough of it that you can smell these plants just walking by!

We’ve gone around the whole block now and I think we’ve seen just about ev—-

Ooooh! What’s that yellow up ahead?!

You could be forgiven for thinking this is one of the bur-clovers or sweet-clovers, but it’s one of the true clovers, specifically low hop clover, an introduction from Europe. The flowers fade and get all paper-baggy as they age. I like it not only because it’s such a cheerful color, but because the leaflets are heart-shaped and fold up to look like green snowflakes! I just want to give it a hug! But I won’t hug the little barley by my left hand, because it has long awns and is on the far end of the poke-you-in-the-eye scale.

Oh, haven’t we had just the BEST walk? Thanks for coming with me, and always remember to keep an eye on the ground, because you never know what precious jewels will be hidden down there!

: )

A Very Pleasant Blue and Purple Walk

The weather has been, by any measure, absolutely lovely lately. Cool nights, moderate days, sun, and enough showers to keep the flowers watered. And in order to enjoy the flowers, we are out for a walk along the Neener Path.

As I’ve pointed out before, though she likes red and yellow flowers best, such as this Cut-leaved Evening Primrose…

…Sigyn has a keen appreciation for blue and purple as well, so that’s what she wants to look for today.

The Henbit has been up since January.

Sigyn says sometimes you just want to lie in a patch of flowers that look like fuzzy sock puppets.

There is an extraordinary abundance of Lyre-leafed Sage this year. The flowers range from nearly white to medium purple. In spots, it almost looks as if we have bluebell woods.

This specimen has an extra-bendy stem.

Spring is a good time for various entities of a leguminous nature. This is Deer Pea Vetch.

Sigyn thinks the little fruits look “just like tiny snow peas.” She’s not wrong.

Loki Weed–Sorry, Loco Weed looks a lot like vetch to me, but the human female says it doesn’t have any tendrils.

I know this one–Baby Blue Eyes.

The human female is physically incapable of getting one of these in focus.

Sigyn, look! Did you know there were Blue Hats here?

Oh, right. My bad. I forgot. We renamed these …Star-leaved Cobalt Puffs.

Ow! Great Frigga’s Hairpins! Sigyn, my treasure, I love you with all my heart, but your cute little squees are not always easy on the ears. What did you find that has you so excited?

Oh! Violets! The human female says it’s more usual to find these in the woods. I guess there are woods on the other side of the boundary fence and this side of the path gets quite a bit of shade. Where are the leaves, though? The ones with three leaflets belong to Bur Clover.

Ah. It’s very pleasant here, isn’t it? While you and the humans continue to exclaim over the posies, I think I’ll take a little rest before we head home.

The moss is a bit dry, and its capsules are a bit pokey, but it’s still cushy, and it always feels good to get the helmet off. Wake me up when it’s time to go home.

>|: [

It’s Nice To Know Her Hard Work Was In Vain For Nothing

Remember how last week I wrote about going on a walk with my beloved along the Neener Path? Well, I lied. I did go for a walk, I did go with Sigyn, we did go along the Neener Path, and we did, in fact, see all of the flowers, but it wasn’t last week. It was a week or so before, before all the cold weather. I just hadn’t had a chance to put it all together. Besides, I think it made a good story, writing about it after Fimbulwinter. Look up “unreliable narrator.” It’s a literary thing. Sue me.

(The human female says the flowers will be back in a week or so. The dandelions and henbit are already blooming again. Sigyn hopes the bluets are not far behind.)

Today, though, we really are going on a little walk. We’re out at the herbarium where the human female is working on the BBBB. Turns out that many, many years ago the local Boy Sprout troop made a nature trail in the woodsy bit of land south of the building. The human female was their consultant with regard to what labels to put on all the plants. She helped write up the trail guide and everything. Since then, however, the trail has fallen into disuse. The road that leads to it is closed off, and you can really only see the entrance from in front of the herbarium.

Inviting, no? Let’s go see how it all looks, Sigyn. We can start with the sign.

Time and the elements have not been kind to the mounted specimens of plants.

And winter has not been kind to the flora.

Idunn’s little apples! Things are looking quite crunchy! I know that we are looking at last year’s grasses and fallen leaves, and that the deciduous trees are bare this time of year anyway, but still! That is quite a lot of…beige.

Oh! Wait! Sigyn sees a bit of color on that little tree over there! Maybe something is blooming!

Oh. Just a bit of lichen on a winter-bare hawthorn. Sigyn finds lichens fascinating.

You would think that the yuccas got nipped by the ice, but no.

They’re still green!

The junipers are too.

Kind of prickly and sticky-resiny, but green nonetheless.

Except for this one.

I didn’t think you COULD kill these things, except perhaps with a bulldozer! It looks like it has been defunct for quite some time. It may not have been the cold that did it in…

Ah. Here we have one of the lovely plant marker signs.

That’s held up well.

We’re not seeing very many signs of incipient wildflowers, although these may turn out to be something later.

Don’t ask me what. I can barely remember plants’ names when they’re in full flower. This tiny stuff is just so much ground clutter.

This one here might be one of those furry gray composites the human female was beating her head against.

No way to tell whether this will be one of the ones with the pappus bristles united or one that has bristles that fall singly. And do you know what? I don’t care.

Uh, oh. It looks like the trail ends here.

The human female says that it used to wind around for quite a bit longer. There was a bridge, and it crossed a road, and there were a good number of interesting trees. Hmm. Maybe it’s just overgrown?

Of course, the fact that an apartment complex has been built over there probably doesn’t help either.

So it looks like the trail and the human female’s contribution to edifying the populace is no longer. Ehehehehe! I don’t think she even has the text of the trail guide saved anywhere. And this obsolescence predates ME! I didn’t have to lift a finger.

Sorry, Sigyn. It looks like we won’t be seeing any flowers today. Let’s just rest here on this nice moss pat and then go back.

Hmm. The moss looks (and feels) a little underwhelming. But I guess it is still only late winter and not spring yet.

Hey, human female! Can you find your way back to the herbarium, or are you lost? It would be just like you to lose your way in a such a small area. Who knows? You could wander around out here for days, shivering at night and starving. You might have to figure out how to eat yucca and dead oak leaves! And fend off wild dingoes and weasels!

Or maybe the fact that you can still see the building and your car will give you a little clue.

>|: [

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

The improved weather is giving us a chance to explore the neighborhood a bit more. There’s a new subdivision south of us that we haven’t visited yet. It’s a nice evening, Sigyn. Let’s go for a walk.

Uh, oh. I don’t have a good feeling about this..

I’ve heard of “going for the rustic look,” but this seems a bit much.

And the new neighbors don’t look too friendly.

Odin’s eyepatch! Definitely NOT friendly!

STOP LICKING MY SWEETIE YOU HIDEOUS CREEP!

Augh! The ugly dog is armed!

Great Frigga’s corset! What a misunderstanding! Apparently, they’re not from around here, and are unused to Midgardian customs. Where they come from, a good bum-licking is how they say “hello.” The exchange of saliva is regarded as a sign of trust and friendship. I don’t see the appeal, but I’m glad not to have to slaughter all of them–my mischief schedule for today is already packed.

Ah, and I guess here comes the Missus.

Greetings, Madam. What a lovely… home you have. I like what you’ve done with the…foundation.

Sigyn is making friends with Auntie Sk’rrbx.

While I have the “pleasure” of introducing myself to Uncle Raaarbaghk.

We should get together and talk weapons over a tankard of ale someday soon.

It’s a growing family. The triplets seem… nice.

Well, it has been “lovely” meeting all of you.

Sigyn, darling, we need to be going. You can come back tomorrow to swap recipes and whatnot.

Well, that was interesting. I can do without the licking, but I think Uncle and I could become very good friends…

Time to get home, though. I’m teaching Taffy Cat how to mangle the blinds.

>|: [

A Park, All Right, But I Don’t See Anyone Doing Any Research…

It’s a bright, crisp winter day, and the humans have been doing their best recently to become one with the sitting furniture, so here we all are for a bit of fresh air and sunshine and to make sure the lower extremities still function in an ambulatory fashion.

This is the Research Park on the west side of the University campus. It is quite park-like, but I don’t see anyone doing any research. Except maybe about how much bread a duck can hold.

Whatever you do, Sigyn, pray don’t you feed them too.

They’ll only follow you about, quacking pitifully, and the next thing you know you’ll be asking to bring all of them home with us. It would annoy the humans and terrify the cats which, you know, would be fun, but have you ever had to clean up after ducks? The only thing worse is geese. Oh, wait… *We* wouldn’t be the ones doing the cleaning! Hold onto the duck idea, but wait and see if there are geese. If we find geese, you can bring home as many as you like.

The artificial ponds here are connected by artificial waterways, some of which have little artificial waterfalls.

Sigyn? Sigyn? I’ve lost her. She can stand mesmerized, looking at moving water or machinery, for as long as you will let her. Come, my love. Let’s see what else there is to see. We can always come back if you want to stare at it some more.

What are these weird sticky-up things at the water’s edge?

The human female says they’re “tree knees.”

Pffft! I think she’s finally lost it. Next thing you know, she’ll be prattling on about “shrub toes” or something.

Oh, wait. Bald cypress? I have heard of these, now that I think about it. Strange, knee-endowed, deciduous conifers that like to live in or around water.

Also good for dangling. But isn’t the sun in your eyes, my dear? Why don’t you try dangling in the Chinese tallow tree? Let me enumerate the potential benefits: Just as good for dangling, extra colorful this time of year, and you won’t be so squinty.

Are you enjoying the walk, my love? It makes a nice change from the neighborhood, does it not? We shall have to come out here agai—

Shh! Hold very still! What is that white thing down by the water?

It’s a bird of some sort. I think it is looking for lunch… Quick, human female, take a photo of it so we can look it up later!

Sigh. I’m sure she just took a perfectly horrible photo, but we’ll see what we can do.

>|: [

A Very Poofy Walk (Sigyn speaks)

It has been a little rainy recently, and the human female has been busy, so we haven’t had the chance to go for a good walk very often. But today is bright and shiny and breezy and chilly, and there’s nothing that can keep the human female and me indoors! We’re exploring what Loki calls the “Neener Walk” today.

The flowers are almost all gone, and the fall color has faded or blown away. What’s left?

IT’S POOF SEASON!

A lot of the plants around here make fluff when they go to seed. I want to hug them all!

The goldenrod stalks are still pointy on top, they’re just not golden anymore.

Hug, hug, hug, hug!

The late-flowering thoroughwort is a little pricklier, but still a treat to nestle in.

Hee hee hee! It’s breezy enough that my bed is swaying! The asters are low to the ground and would be less likely to make someone seasick.

Oh, wait, this patch is even better!

Achoo! I sniffed up a little fluff there! Always a hazard of a walk this time of year.

Dandelions are mostly spring things, but you can find them in the fall and winter here too. Always time for making wishes!

It’s not just the daisy family things that have gone fuzzy, the grasses have been busy too! The silver bluestem won’t hold still for a photo, but it’s definitely puffy.

Little bluestem is a bit less floofy, but there is more of it. It used to be one of the main prairie grasses from south Texas all the way up into Canada, but there isn’t much prairie left.

The dry foliage is a nice, coppery color, don’t you think? The new shoots in spring will be blue-green.

I think the Grand Floof Prize goes to bushy bluestem! If you hug just one plant, it should be this one.

It’s so windy today. If I hang on tight, I bet I could get a ride! Back…

..and forth…

..and back again, over and over!

Whee! My walking buddy is making a little movie!

Oh, this walk was such fun! You should definitely go on a walk and see if you can find some fluff of your own!

: )

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?

>|: [

Ha! I was right!

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