I planned to go back to the riverbank and sandbar today to take more pictures of the plants that I am just beginning to identify with the help of the Minnesota Wildflowers project. I quickly became distracted though when I ran into this.
I got held up a moment as I tended to my pain — and took pictures of the offender — and then, instead of winding my way down to the bank, turned immediately to my right, into one of the ever-expanding gullies at the river’s edge, the product of erosion.
Most of the snow has melted (again) so the landscape is really as unrelentingly monocromatic as ever. From a distance. Up close — you know, like 99.8% of the pictures I take — tells a different story. I decided to look for as much color in this little gully as I could.
As ever, I found it impossible to ignore the lure of the finely-textureds’ siren song.
Let me briefly sing the praises of Canadian nettle. In an introductory biology course in one of my first years of college, we had to design our own experiment. I decided to study the density of a certain plant in the undergrowth of our woods and see if there was any correlation between plant density and plant height or something. I dunno, it was kind of stupid and I don’t even remember the outcome, but I remember bundling up in November and going down to the woods and trying to introduce a little randomization into my sample-taking by picking a series of arbitrary points, then spinning in a circle, then throwing a ruler, and measuring the stand of nettle wherever the ruler landed. (There was so much nettle in the woods that there would almost inevitably be some wherever the ruler landed.)
This was an annoying, dizzying process, and it was cold, and Canadian nettle, while not as bad as the related stinging nettle, still has spines up and down its stem that were irritating to my bare hands (it was impossible to work in gloves), and yes, the whole thing was probably not quite up to snuff in terms of scientific rigor. But this was just about the time I started thinking about studying plants in college, and somehow learning all about Canadian nettle helped ignite that fire. It was like my gateway drug into horticulture.
A veritable riot of varied roots to follow:
Edit: I forgot to mention it was absurdly cold when I took these pictures. So I’m mentioning it now: IT WAS ABSURDLY COLD.