One of the first things I did when I got home was sleep. Once that was over with, I woke up, did my laundry, and got ready for classes. Why? Because I was smart and gave myself exactly two days at home before the semester started. And what a whirlwind it was, but I’m glad it’s over since by the time you are reading this, the Other Half and I will be taking a well-needed vacation of mental vegetation and hiking.
To stay sane during the semester (and keep the herding dogs from going absolutely insane), there was much walking and puppy play-dates. I’ve been told our high-maintenance dogs will have us well-prepared for children someday. Now that’s a scary thought.
Anyway, lately the Other Half and I have been taking Eli and Paisly the young pups to the lake when we have a free afternoon (read: on the weekends) for walks.
The two of them have gotten pretty good at identifying nearby wildlife. One of them is a reptile detector that tries to play with all the lizards, snakes, and turtles around the lake. A dog after my own heart. The other is a small mammal detector, though her purpose is slightly more nefarious than simply ‘playing’ with the squirrels.
Now, I’m not encouraging anyone to take their dogs off-leash into a wildlife area (or any area, for that matter). However, this is a small multi-use lake with some very understanding users that are accepting of our occasional circuits as long as our dogs are under control and not bothering them (and if they aren’t both of those things, they’re on a leash or at home).
They’ve also gotten pretty good lately about going absolutely quiet and still when they see the camera get pulled out. Well, when they’re not otherwise occupied.
It’s also nice for us to have a bigger dog that has an odd stare or a weird eye for when we’re by ourselves. They’re very good about watching around us and alerting us to any approaching people or wildlife.
They are even good at camouflaging themselves in an attempt to help us locate more wildlife.
Or maybe they just like hiding so they can pounce on each other.
Anyway, the one thing they’re not helpful for is identifying edible vegetation. We have a lot of wild fruit trees out where we are, and what looks like wild tomatoes:
Well, they’re related to tomatoes, but wherever you are just remember: don’t eat wild tomatoes!
Why, you ask? A lot of people don’t know that tomatoes are part of the genus Solanum. Potatoes are in this genus as well. And so is nightshade. The picture above is of nightshade berries from the silver-leaf nightshade plant. The toxic principle accumulates in the berries, the leaves, and the roots. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you don’t eat raw potatoes. Luckily, the solanine in the plants (which is the toxic compound) is heat labile, so cooking destroys the toxin and we can still have baked potatoes and fried green tomatoes for dinner.
Next week, I’ll show you some more… positive things we saw at the lake with the dogs. Because now you’re looking at your crisper drawer like it’s going to bite you, aren’t you?