Today is Mother’s Day, and the kids insisted that we leave for our planned outing (hiking) immediately. I suppose that Ana’s true Mother’s Day present was a quiet, childless morning.
My sons and I had a really great hike, and for some reason I was surprised to how much Xander is taking to hiking the older he gets. It really seems like this is where he belongs, and it was a real treat to see him in his element. As with in any day of my life, I found myself curious about the world around me. It was nice to have the kids around to share this exploratory experience with me. This story is dedicated to our excursion.
Are there thistles in Texas?
When I think of thistles I think of Scotland, and I don’t immediately think that what I think looks like a thistle could exist in such a dry, hot place like Central Texas. What exactly is a thistle, and what types are in Texas? What’s the difference between a true thistle and something that just looks like one? Texas actually does have it’s own thistle, the Cirsium texanum, or simply the Texas thistle. It doesn’t look as fancy as its Scottish cousin, but it does catch your attention in the Texas bush.
According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, just up the road from our home, “The Texas thistle grows 2-5 feet tall, without branches, or sparingly branched near the top. The numerous leaves are alternate, 4-9 inches long, smaller on the upper third of the stem. Leaves are green above and white below, with a woolly texture on the underside. The irregular lobes have spines at the tip but few elsewhere on the leaf. There is 1 head to a stem, with no ray flowers but numerous disk flowers, which are deep rose-lavender. Bumblebees work the flowers when they mature.”1
What kind of spider is this?
At first I thought it was a simple garden spider, but it had a really intricate, multi-layer series of webs, and the black, white, and yellow colors on its abdomen were in a strange, random design, void of any noticeable pattern.
Why don’t we see more millipedes?
These have always looked menacing to me for some reason. Perhaps one jumped out at me when I was a child or something, but fortunately I rarely react childishly to an insect as an adult. I can’t say the same for Ana. The kids loved checking this guy out. At first Harper thought it was just a worm, and that he was looking for his family. Harper loves bugs, and lately has been big into Armadillidiidae. He was hunting those down during the entire hike. As much as a pill bug and a millipede look like they may be closely related, they’re not.