16 April 2012

Creeping Charlie

A plant with weird little purple flowers is thriving in my lawn. I can tell it is a mint--the square stems and opposite leaves are diagnostic when identifying forbs in the field. As are the bi-labiate (two-lipped) flowers. I was taught the botanical family name for Mint was Labiate, but I see now it is called Laminaceae. Taxonomists are fussy sorts and are always renaming things. The stalks and leaves are reminiscent of cilantro, if cilantro had a hardy, mountain man version of the stuff you buy in the produce section. It is Glechoma hederacea, also known as ground-ivy, cat's foot, or creeping Charlie. The venerable Philip A. Munz called it Gill-over-the-Ground and said it had "retrorsely puberulent" stems which means "backward or downward with very short hairs." How I love botany talk! I note that Munz' magnum opus A California Flora is out of print, so I'm hanging on to my copy. It, like me, came to life in 1959. According to the Wikipedia entry, Saxons brewed with Glechoma hederacea before hops became commonplace, thus one of it's common names is ale-hoof. My encyclopedia of poisonous plants lists it as toxic to horses, but it is supposedly edible by humans either as a salad green or brewed in a tea. Those of you who'd like to help me get rid of it are welcome to all you can pluck out. Bon appetit!

11 April 2012

The Ugliest Boots in the Shop

Today I bought the ugliest boots in the shop. These weren't lizard skin boots, or cowboy boots, or python boots. No, these were alpine ski boots. That's "downhill" in American. I decided that comfort was more important than looks. And these Nordica Fire Arrow F3s were the most comfortable. The easiest to get on and off. And with three instead of the customary four buckles, the easiest to adjust as well. Fit trumps style, I told myself. These boots really clash with my green snow pants, my gray and green jacket, my black helmet, and my mostly black skis. Plus I hate red. But I went "all in" on these babies because I felt like a human when I walked in them and felt like they'd help me ski a little better. I got ten years out of the other pair--it was time. I had to get new poles as well, as I bent one of my old ones. They were hand-me-downs when I bought the boots, so again, it was time. The new ones are Rossignols, black with green like my Rossignol skis. See what I mean about the boots clashing? I'm looking for happy feet, though, so I'll have to live with it.