When Urania was young/ All thought her heavenly/ With age her eyes grow larger/ But her form unmaidenly

Monday, September 06, 2004

Scrub names

When we first moved to Flight St., the scrub/desert started one house down. Tumbleweeds are green when they're still rooted; but the dead ones turn brown and do tumble. Like almost everything else picturesque, it's a reproductive strategy. They also might be the original for velcro - the stack together, latched with tangled barbs, and it was easy to build a fort. The most common type was rounnd and sort of like a scaled down, half-roofed sporting arena, when the spectators stay dry and the athletes earn their pay on the slippery plastic grass. My favorites, though, we're long and twisted - constructed like mazes, with submarine-width prickly paths, one dead-ending with construction stakes pointed outward in the direction the tract homes - a weapons port.

Hmm, I didn't really mean to type all that. What I really wanted to talk about was certain of the fauna the fauna, limited by the aridity being on the wrong side of the desert and the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains. Aside from the year when the monarchs came, the butterflies were mainly a dingy white with a small, washed out spot of blue on each wing. We called a milkweed butterfly. The others were the skipper moths. Skipper butterflies. Brown-bronze-golden, and very small on the iceplant flowers Instead of the four-parabola wing-shape, they have delta wings with little vertical vanes, kind of reminiscent of an F/A-18 (not yet invented at that point - Phantoms were still the latest thing, but war-nerd reference inserted to show you that Rock will not be coming by tonight.) Moth-shaped and fuzzy, but diurnal and with the bead-on-the-end antennae. We called them both.

Other butterflies were plates in those great nature books. The same ones I read, after seeing crows and pigeons and seagulls, and the great indistinguishable sparrow-ish, that not all birds were black-gray-white-brown tones - but I should not be ungrateful for the hummingbirds, bejeweled magicians, levitators. But those plates - Scarlet Tanagers and Purple Martins; Baltimore Orioles and chickadees and cardinals; even the blackbirds had red and yellow epaulets.

The beach and the pool, and the names of the footwear for them: flip-flops, thongs, go-aheads, zorries (a brand, no doubt) - all the same, like eskimo for snow - and just how quickly would the rubber button on the bottom of the thong snap its stem. And the couple of years where instead of rubber, they had velvet straps and woven tops of the souls - even less durable than the rubber.

Mmm, marbles next.

Or maybe Stone Reader