walkies

A Cure For Cabin Fever, Part II: Stupid Names, Plants With No Sense of Schedule, and the Human Female Yapping Just to Hear Herself Talk

It’s very hot and humid today, as well as hazy and sprinkly and generally not conducive to a long expedition, but I suppose I can tolerate it a little longer, since Sigyn and the human female are still looking at plants.

There are a lot of plants to look at.

minter2

All that yellow stuff is partridge pea.  No.  There are no partridges locally.

It’s about the right time for partridge pea, though the human female swears it used to flower later in the year.

This blanket flower is more or less on schedule also.

gaillardia

And so is this… This…  What is this, again?  No, not the viney thing, the other one, the ferny-leaved one with the clusters of white flowers.  Is this some more of your “prairie clover” stuff?

legumes

What do you mean, it’s either prairie acacia or bundle flower?  Don’t you know?  Pfft!  And you call yourself a botanist!

Do you at least know what this one is? I’ve seen it before, I think.

phyla

Siygn says she remembers it’s called frog fruit.  That’s right.  Now I remember.  It’s another one of those plants with a completely stupid name.  Frogs don’t eat it, and the fruit certainly doesn’t look like a frog.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When I take over Midgard,  things are going to have logical, pronounceable names.

NOT like this thing.

sida

The human female said it’s called “Cuban jute.”   Or did she say, “Juban cute”?  Again, I don’t really listen when she talks botanese, and the two options are equally silly.

And this one.  “Prairie tea“?  Really?

croton m

It’s slanty name is Croton monanthogynus.  Who can wrap their tongue around that?

And I will make sure plants stick to a prescribed schedule, too!   There are plants flowering out here today that should have finished long ago.

Take this dock, for example.  It should have flowered back in March and be dry, crunchy toast by now.

dock

And this!

castilleja

There’s just no excuse for this!

Okay.  I’ve had enough.  I’m overheated, sweaty, hungry, and just generally fed up with binomial nomenclature, plants that can’t be bothered to check their planners, and stuffy botanists who don’t know as much as they think they do.

The human female says I need a nap.  Woman, that’s the most sensible thing you’ve said all day.

>|: [

 

A Cure For Cabin Fever, Part I: Signs, Flowers, and Meeting Up With Kinfolks

The humans are still supposed to be self-isolating so that if they’re sick, they don’t make anyone else sick.

Oh, now the human female has declared that she IS sick, that she has a “horrible, horrible case of CABIN FEVER” and she misses the daily walks and if she doesn’t get out of the house she will go crazy and start snapping at people and saying whatever she’s thinking and she can’t be held responsible for her behavior with sharp objects and….oh, wait.

That’s me.

So the human female put on her thinking cap (the one that looks like a cactus; long story) and come up with a place where we can all go walk without meeting anyone.

And here we are!  It’s Minty Springs! We’ve been here before, more than once, though I’m not sure we’ve been here in the summer.  Let’s see what kinds of mischief I can get up to.

Well, for starters, I’m on the wrong side of the fence!

trespasser

Neener neener neener.

Sigh.  Sigyn says we need to stay on the *right* side of the fence.  Very well, my love.  I applaud your efforts to make me a better man, though I’m not sure it will “stick.”

Great Frigga’s hairpins!  Look at all the enchanter’s nightshade!

minter1

This really is a gorgeous plant.  I don’t know why everyone doesn’t just fill up their pastures and lawns and gardens with this and call it done.

nightshade

It’s prolific and prickly and poisonous.  What’s not to love?

Sigyn is very enthused about this “nifty” legume.  It has “poofy” clusters of little white flowers and “teeny” little leaflets.

dalea

The human female, whose language tends to be a little more scientific, says it’s something called roundhead prairie clover, a “locally uncommon, taprooted perennial with gland-dotted foliage and a short, globose to oblong inflorescence, shorter than that of white prairie clover.”

Or that’s what she would tell you she said, anyway.  I can’t verify.  When she starts rattling botany, I mostly just hear, “whhhhhhsssssshhhhh.”  My personal antenna just is not tuned to whatever frequency she’s broadcasting on, and all I get is static.

Apparently this is another unusual find.   The human female likes the way it sets all of its flower buds and then blooms backwards down the stem.  Sigyn likes the purple color.

liatrissq

I approve of the spiky leaves and floral bracts.  Careful, my sweet!  I wouldn’t want you to poke an eye out.

Odin’s eyepatch!  What is that awful screeching-creaking-whistling noise?!

Oh.

hee haw

Human female, you didn’t tell me we were visiting your relatives today.  You be sure to stay at least six feet away from your cousin, do you hear?  Sigyn and I will stay farther away–I saw some big teeth when it hollered, and it seems like a perfect time to practice some antisocial distancing. 

Hmm.  I think perhaps Cousin Jack is not the only hoofed thing out here.

deerprints

I think some undercooked venison came this way…

To be continued…

>|: [

Sometimes We Just Find Weird Stuff

In our walkies and pokings-about in the neighborhood, sometimes Sigyn and I find…odd things.  I’ve shared written about a few of them here before, and today I have another batch.

Shiny streamers.

mylar

Every time we go by the park, there are shiny streamers in the grass.  Sometimes silver, sometimes colored.  This batch is a sort of sheer blueyrainbowy mylar.  Sigyn is delighted.

Once we found some red ones and she couldn’t stop squeaking for a solid quarter hour.

Oriental Treasures.

The other day she found a Sigyn-sized parasol.

parasol

It is a little broken, but she loves it anyway.

Fierce Adversaries.

Often, if we walk early enough, we find these slimy, legless creatures wriggling down the sidewalk.  Scouts, no doubt, of an invading army.

pokeaworm

Tremble before Loki, you foul annelid!  This neighborhood is under my protection!  Return to whence thou came!  Begone!

(The braver I am, the more hugs I get from Sigyn later.  Not a bad way to start the day.)

>|: [

Botany Lessons Before Breakfast

After a string of miserably warm and humid mornings on which NO ONE, myself least of all, wanted to get up and go for a walk that would have left the humans sweating* before we reached the end of the front walk, we have been graced by a slightly cooler dawn, so we are seizing the opportunity to get a little exercise.

We are making a short detour from the mile loop the humans call “The Long Block” and are exploring a little side street where the houses are still under construction.  Be careful, Sigyn!  There could be nails and bits of glass and broken masonry!

new lot

Odin’s eyepatch!  The side-yard-to-be is a veritable jungle of foliage and bloomery!

Most noticeable is something the human female says is called Johnsongrass.  It’s good for a dangle.

johnsongrass

See if you can shake some of that grass pollen over the human female.  She’s allergic and it’s fun to watch her eyes swell up.

There are sunflowers, though not so many nor so tall as the ones at the house.

sunflower

(The ones at the house are particularly hulking this year, and I took great pains to make sure they came up so close to the driveway that the human female has to choose between thrashing her way through them and becoming covered in pollen and chaffy bits or climbing in through the passenger side.   It never gets old.)

The black-eyed Susans are similar, but much more nearly Sigyn-sized.

rudbeckia2

Hmm.  Red, yellow, brown… Look, my love, they’re Sigyn-colored too!

As you might expect in a weedy patch, there are thistles.

thistle

Sigyn says the flower heads remind her of fireworks.  I suppose I can see that.

Let’s see what else is here.  False dandelion..

pyrrhopappus

More yellow.  This one’s partridge pea.

partridgepea

The human female says it used to bloom in late summer and early fall, but now it blooms beginning in June.  I am so weary of her whining about climate change.  Would you like me to call down Fimbulwinter, mortal?  Is that what you want?  Keep complaining and I just might.

Ehehehe!  Sigyn has discovered that partridge peas are a little too bendy to be good for dangles.

partridgepea2

But if I do a little spell that will hold the stem, they do just fine.

partridgepea3

Ah. Evening primroses.  Like the kind that were in the lawn at home.

oenothera

Sigyn and the human female are very excited.  Apparently there are some more unusual plants here too.

Yellow puff is a funny bean with poofy yellow flower clusters and leaves that close up if you touch them.

neptunia

Look, Sigyn, there it goes!  Do another one!  Do another one!

These white flowers belong to a sweet clover that should have finished flowering months ago.

melilotus

That’s Texas vervain (lavender) down below.

The little dark fruits don’t look like legumes, but technically, they are.

melilotus dangle

The human female has identified this scruffy, not-very-showy plant as goosefoot.

goosefoot

If I ever had a good with feet shaped like those leaves, I would take him to a veterinary podiatrist.

The plants are getting smaller and smaller.  This is my beloved in a patch of new western ragweed plants.

cyclospermum

And the little thread-leaved thing on the left enjoys the completely ridiculous moniker of slim-lobe celery.

This one little lot is quite the botanical bonanza.  I’m sure whatever the builder and eventual tenants plant won’t be half as interesting.

>|: [

*I don’t sweat.  Frost Giants just don’t, but heat does tend to make us testy.  Sigyn definitely doesn’t sweat.  Her hair may get just the teensiest bit frizzy in hot, humid weather, but otherwise she remains gorgeous and cheerful.  Seriously.  She is perfect.

In Which Loki Looks at Toadstools Because He’s a Fun Guy

Listen!  Do you hear that?

<poink!>

That is the sound of various Basidiomycetious interlopers appearing everywhere, thanks to some recent rains.  Some people, like the human female, think fungi are interesting because of their weird approaches to reproduction.  Others, like the human male, think they’re “icky” and refuse to have anything to do with them.  Sigyn thinks they’re “cute” and wants to hug them.

Me?  I think these chitinous abominations that are absolutely everywhere–on dead things, in the soil, in the water, in the ocean, in the atmosphere–and which are more closely related to animals than plants!—are secretly running the world.  I shall probably have to forge some sort of alliance with them if I want to truly take over Midgard.  In the meantime, I they and I have a sort of grudging detente.

In the interest of knowing the competition, Sigyn and I are out meeting some of the local excrescences.

She is squeakily enthusing about these tiny parasols.

mushrooms1

This one is all shaggy.  The texture really is very interesting.  If you poke them, they feel… meaty.

mushrooms2

Sigyn, look at mine!  It’s all smooooth, and much tidier than yours.

mushrooms3

Sigyn has found some smooth babies.

mushrooms4

mushrooms5

Told you she wants to hug them.

Great Frigga’s hairpins!  Look at this one!  It looks like a concha sweet roll…

mushrooms8

…and the stalk is so thick that the two of us can’t reach around it.

All of this poking about in leaf litter and whatnot is hard work.  Time for a rest.  Fortunately, there is a convenient, spongy myco-mattress handy.

mushrooms6

It’s comfy enough, but the surface is curved and I keep sliding off.

This one is flatter and much more commodious.

mushrooms9

Any conversation about fungi eventually turns to which species are edible and how best to recognize and prepare the tasty ones.  It’s a topic well worth paying attention to, as guessing wrong can have fatal consequences.  One would not, for example, wish to consume an Amanita by mistake.   You feel fine, you feel sick, you feel better, then you die.

I will admit that I am no mycologist, but I do know one hard and fast rule for distinguishing the toxic species from the comestible ones.  Some will tell you to go by color, or to look for a veil, or to check the color of the spores, but I can assure you that individuals which cluster together in ferro-metallic structures such as this are usually safe to eat.

mushrooms7

You’re welcome.

>|: [

Doing Some Chalking of My Own (Sigyn Speaks)

Loki thinks that sidewalk-chalking is sappy (though he was very sweet to me about that last one we saw.)  I think it’s adorable, and I want to do some of my own!

But I don’t want to step on the toes of the wonderful people leaving all the inspirational quotes.  What should I do?  Hmmm.  I will need to think about this.

I know!  I can help support all the walkers and homeschoolers (and homeschooling walkers, hee hee!) by being educational.

Lots of folks are plant-blind.  Maybe I can work against that a little bit—encourage people to literally stop and smell the flowers.  I read about someone in France leaving labels on urban wildflowers.  I bet that would work here!  I don’t know all of them, but I can do the ones I know!

These are bright and cheerful!  They’re sure to get someone’s attention.

sidewalk-chalk3

False dandelions are not quite the same color as the true ones.  (The eensiest bit less gold and a smidge more lemon.)

Ooh!  Ooh!  Look!  See this little fluffy yellow one?

sidewalk-chalk2

It’s Neptunia pubescens, and  the showy bits are the stamens.

Another little yellow one.

sidewalk-chalk1

Hee hee hee!  I guess I just like yellow!

But here’s one that’s different!

sidewalk-chalk4

Don’t you just love that electric blue color?

It’s a little bit sad to think that the labels will wear off pretty quickly, and the flowers will fade, too.

But here’s something I can label that will be around for a long time!

sidewalk-chalk7

Chalk wears down really quickly on concrete!  I might need some of that fat, colorful, specially-for-side-walks chalk…

Almost out of chalk for today.  I’ve just enough left to leave a message on the walkway that goes by the big storm-water collection area.

sidewalk-chalk8

 

It’s the best song ever!     (Listen–it will make you smile!)

: )

Things We Find on Walks

Our daily walks in the neighborhood are for more than exercise and getting away from the humans–we often find interesting and unusual things, so each perambulation is like a little treasure hunt.

We found this very random W archway.

arch-de-W

W stands for What is this thing doing here?

We are seeing a lot of sidewalk art.  (I think the small humans must be very, very bored.)  This magnum opus has a very stained-glass feel to it.

chalkwork1

Careful not to sit in the colored areas, my love.  I don’t know how well sidewalk chalk comes out of red velvet.

Other young artists have chalked pictures words of encouragement and hope to uplift us all in these dark days.  Or that’s what you’re supposed to think.  The cynic in me is quite sure that for each rainbow and every flower that graces the concrete, there is a harried, home-schooling parent who has sent a child outside (Field Trip) to write (English and Spelling) something that will comfort the neighbors (Social Sciences) and to draw (Art) a picture using a set number of colors (Mathematics).  Sometimes, the art is high up on a fence (Physical Education.)  Seven subjects ticked off the lesson plan and thirty minutes of quiet for mom, who is no doubt ensconced on the sofa with wine, a torrid novel, and a burning desire to change all the locks before the little dears can find their way back in.

Sometimes the message is less “hopeful platitude” and more “cryptic admonishment.

notouchsidewalk

Touchtouchtouchtouchtouch!!! So there.

Sigyn is enamored of these metal fish we keep finding.

sidewalkfish

I looked it up in a fish book. I think it’s a bass.

Today we have found something very exciting!  Someone has set up a refreshment station with cool water and some munchy carrots!

bunnycarrots

A treat for early morning walkers?  Or–

Oh, I see.  Some youngling, no doubt, spotted one of the little molly cottontails that live in the neighborhood and has thoughtfully put out a feast for the bunnies.

Another youngling, presumably older and wiser, has helpfully pointed out that

rabbit-sidewalk2

“Rabbits do not always eat carerets.” True. Very true. (Natural Sciences)

<rumble>  The stomach has spoken!  I do not want to eat random dog-dish carrots off the ground, but I wouldn’t say no to something that is an actual breakfast.  Come my love, do you not hear the English muffins calling?

>|: [

 

I Like to Call it a “Neener Walk”

This morning, we are returning to the walking path that runs by the Large, Ugly Apartments, the traversal of which can absolutely be construed as a big, nose-thumbing neener-neener-neener 

At this time of year, the flora can change from week to week.  The human female and Sigyn are hoping for different flowers than we saw last time.

The thistles are in full, fluffy bloom and, to quote my beloved, “really, really dangle-worthy!”

neener-thistle

Look at her!  It never ceases to amaze me how she can hang upside down so soon after breakfast without revisiting her toast.

Having a little post-dangle rest in a patch of yellow evening primroses that are cousins to the big pink ones in the lawn.

neener-oenothera

The squeaky noise you hear is my sweetie exclaiming over these tiny blue vetch flowers.

neener-vetch

Great Frigga’s hairpins!  What is this one?  The tiny flowers are in tight little bunches, and the fruits are covered with little prickles.  It looks as if it would love to latch onto someone’s socks!  Eeeeevil, and I like it!  But be careful that you do not get any  caught in your hair, my love.

neener-torilis

The human female says it is something non-native called “knotted hedge parsley.”  I think she has a device somewhere with little spinners—spin them and it generates random strings of botanical nonsense.  It’s the only thing that makes sense.

This is its equally foreign, equally huggy cousin, regular hedge-parsley.

neener-limnosciadium

Ah!  Spiderworts!  A perennial favorite.  (Literally—they’re perennial.)

neener-trad

They’re a marvelous, clear color that almost makes me prefer blue over greenAlmost.

Hey, Sigyn!  I know it’s not exactly the same, but look–it’s a lot like your last year’s All Hallow’s Eve costume!

neener-coreopsis

Red and yellow together.  Sigyn thinks it doesn’t get much better than this!

This is a very fine path indeed.  We have yet to traverse it to its end.  The humans have a theory that, if followed to its conclusion, it would come out behind the houses not too far from our residence.  Perhaps today we shall put on our Intrepid Traveler hats and see where it goes.

Thirty feet beyond the end of the pavement:

neener-ravine

Or maybe not.

>|: [

 

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.

>|: [

Much More Comfy Than a Plague Doctor Mask (Sigyn Speaks)

I know Loki meant well with the protective garb, but I’m very, very glad to be back in my own clothes.

I’m going for a walk.  I’ve heard that more and more of the spring flowers are popping up every day, and I can’t bear the thought that I might be missing any!

Ooh!  There’s something pink over there!

Eeeee!  I LOVE THESE!  They look like something Dr. Seuss would draw.

seussflowers

The stems are kind of prickly, but the flower heads are so poofy!  I could just lie here all day.

But what is that shrub over there?  It has the same sort of flowers, but it’s even better because they’re RED.

callistemon

I think I’ll ask if we can plant one of these at the house, so I can hug it every day.

Don’t you just love botany?

: )