Walking Rocks?

Query: When I was in Death Valley earlier this year, I saw some enormous 750-pound rocks that appear to travel across the desert on their own. I remembered your article about rock tortoises, and wondered if that’s what these rocks could be?

Corn of Plenty (Part 4 of 4): A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

Corns of the Air: Air-corns utilize their horns for jousting, playing tic-tac-toe, and spearing food in mid-flight. Air-corns often lurk undetected in trees, wood piles, and rain gutters. When bored, they use their horns to ring the doorbells of unsuspecting humans. When the door begins to open, the air-corn flies away.


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Going On Hiatus

December 6, 2014: I am loving college, but I have to admit, I’m overwhelmed.

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Pine Cone Feeders

A Present For Imaginaries: When winter comes, I get concerned about providing extra shelter from the elements for Imaginaries. Recently, I read about people who build wildlife brush shelters out of branches and plants in their yards, and thought this was a great idea.

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Dragons in Hibernation

Annual Dragon Survey At The Preserve: The only time of year I can give the dragons at the Iranigami Preserve a good check-up is in mid-winter, when they go into hibernation. Many of the dragons here have their own caves where they retire for the winter (see photo), although a few of the younger ones prefer to spend their winter in the old-car junkheap at the back of the preserve. The preserve dragon-keeper and I go around to all of the caves that we can find, as well as through the junkheap, to see how the dragons are doing.

Using an ancient Chinese dragon-keeping trick, we keep the dragons at the preserve to a manageable size. But even when she’s sleeping, a dragon can be difficult to deal with. Her breath is still hot and smoky, and if she should start to snore, or sneeze, a blast of scorching air can toast anybody unlucky enough to be in the way. What’s more, if we are so careless as to wake her, I don’t much favor our chances to get out of the cramped confines of her winter lair unscathed.

The dragon-keeper and I choose a particularly cold night to go visit the dragons, as the colder it is, the more sluggish the dragon. We creep into the lair and check up on the general health and well-being of each dragon, taking numerous measurements, checking their vitals, and looking them over for injuries or changes in their appearance. All this we do very carefully, keeping a very large chunk of cheese always at hand in case the dragon awakes.

Finally, we change out the weights in each dragon’s wings and tailfins. All of the preserve dragons have tiny weights attached to their wings, like ear piercings, which prevent them from being able to fly too far or too high. The first time we tried weights on a dragon, we discovered the hard way that after a few years, she was able to puzzle out how to fly. Fortunately, the rancher who saw her had been drinking that evening, and we only had to replace the three cows that the dragon had eaten to convince the rancher that he’d been hallucinating.

After that experience, we decided to try rotating the weights to bamboozle the dragons, changing out their positions once a year. So far, this method has confounded the dragons sufficiently to keep them largely earth-bound, but we’re keeping an eye on them. One of our dragons seems a bit brighter than the others, and if one of them is going to figure out how to fly with weights in her wings, it’s this one.

I am pleased to report that we were able to finish our annual dragon check-up without injury, and that most of our dragons appear to be in good health, although one doesn’t look as well as I’d like to see her. Come spring, I’ll assign that dragon her own apprentice, to observe her habits and try to figure out why it is she isn’t thriving.

As far as the ones whose caves we couldn’t find, we will trust to the spring scat count to determine if we lost any of them during the winter. After that, we will do our best to find any of the dragons we missed in our winter count so that we can change out their wing-weights before we have to replace any more of the neighbor’s cattle. - NONNY, Keeper of the Preserve and Iranigami sympathizer


Copyright © 2012, 2013, 2014 by Penelope Stowell. All rights reserved. This website is a work of fiction and does not depict any actual persons, creatures, places or events.