#4809 + #4810
Nendo + Dango
Two tepary beans in a pod. Two tarballs bobbing on the water. Nobody's really sure where Nendo and Dango came from, but their arrival is announced by the unmistakable sound of "Wheek! Wheek! Wheeeeek!"
Their trackers are meant to be read jointly. View the original here!
This version is only for gameplay purposes.
|Boundary:||Sonoran Desert uplands|
◆ Personality ◆
Dango is the “grumpy” one. He’s ornery and mistrustful by nature, but it’s not his fault that everyone around him is too big, too loud, and too nosy.
He prefers to keep to himself and go about his own business: napping in the shade, stashing away seeds, burrowing in the cholla, chasing wrens from his turf... Dango leads a solitary life, and that’s just how he likes it.
What he doesn’t like is other esk intruding in his day. Though Dango sometimes makes a big fuss, rumbling and posturing at those who bother him, most ghosts just get the silent treatment. It helps that he’s stubborn as a rock, too– easy to bother, but difficult to provoke. He is tolerant only of those who respect his space and know how to keep their mouths shut. Even then, he will choose alone time over quiet companionship, most of the time… Most of the time.
◆ Boundary ◆
Sugarloaf Mountain and Skull Mesa © Al_HikesAZ
Superstition Wilderness © Al_HikesAZ
Black Canyon Trail © Kevin
Dango lives in a region of the Sonoran Desert called the Arizona Uplands. True to its name, it’s part of the northernmost stretch of the Sonoran Desert, which reaches into the U.S.-Mexico border and south-central Arizona.
The Sonoran Desert is characterized by its lush, subtropical desert ecology, which is diverse in species, landscapes, and peoples. The Arizona Uplands are a relatively cool and moist subdivision of the desert, a high-altitude fringe that borders neighboring grasslands, pinyon-juniper woodlands, and other montane communities.
Some say this region actually resembles thornscrub–the grey area between desert and tropical deciduous forest–more than it does a true desert. The tropical heritage of the Sonoran Desert is written plainly in its assembly of plants and animals, many of which trace their ancestry to the seasonally moist forests that would have lived here in the Eocene and early Miocene. Aptly described by biologist Thomas R. Van Devender:
Thornscrub could [...] be called the “mother” of the Sonoran Desert, and tropical deciduous forest its “grandmother” or “great aunt!”
Standing at the gateway of South and Central America to North America, the desert is home to great human diversity as well. In fact, its long history of human stewardship is closely linked with some of the desert's most stunning examples of biodiversity. A’al Waipia (Quitobaquito springs) and Ki:towak are two oases on the U.S.-Mexico border that have been managed by the O’odham and their predecessors since time out of mind. As ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan puts it:
Quitobaquito is naturally diverse, but its diversity has also been enhanced rather than permanently harmed by centuries of human occupation. Prehistoric Hohokam and Patayan, historic Tohono O'odham, Hia c-ed O'odham, Apache, Cucupa, and Pai Pai visited Quitobaquito for food and drink long before European missionaries first arrived there in 1698. Since that time, a stream of residents from O'odham, Mexican, Jewish, and Mormon families have excavated ponds and irrigation ditches, transplanting shade and fruit trees alongside them. They intentionally introduced useful plants, and accidentally brought along weedy camp-followers, adding some fifty plant species to Quitobaquito over the centuries. Native birds and mammals have also been affected by human presence there, and some increased in number during the days of O'odham farming downstream from the springs. All in all, Quitobaquito's history demonstrates that the desert's cultural diversity has not necessarily been antithetical to its biological diversity; the two are historically intertwined.
From the canals of the Hohokam, to the dryland farms of the O’odham, to the wild stands of domesticated agave left behind by the Sobaipuri, a very human story is written in the environmental story of the Sonoran Desert.
◆ Nature Features ◆
Larrea tridentata © fishaspey
South-southeast of the Doña Ana Mountains © Patrick Alexander
Larrea tridentata © radinis
Şegai (O’odham) ◆ tsaatsakw’hunvi (Hopi) ◆ ’iivse (Piipaash) ◆ creosota, gobernadora, hediondilla (Spanish) ◆ creosote, greasewood (English) ◆ Larrea tridentata sprouts from Dango’s fur. Creosote holds up the world around it as the foundation of lowland desert communities in the Sonoran, Mojave, and Chihuahuan deserts. They’re absurdly common and easily overlooked, but those with a discerning eye can appreciate their wide array of ethnobotanical uses and generally tough-as-nails outlook on life. (They're also responsible for the wonderful scent of the desert after rain, so there’s that!)
As a creosote bush grows old, the eldest parts of the plant will die. When this happens, the crown of the plant splits into two identical clones. Successive splittings will eventually form a ring of genetically identical plants. Given enough time and the right environment, these rings can achieve something very close to immortality–clonal colonies of creosote are some of the longest-lived organisms on Earth. One individual, King Clone, is estimated to be ~11,700 years old.
Proboscidea parviflora © aspidoscelis
Proboscidea parviflora © T.K. Naliaka
Proboscidea parviflora © finzelflowers
I:hug (O’odham) ◆ kwaxthon (Piipaash) ◆ halaaka (Havasupai) ◆ cuernitas (Spanish) ◆ basket claw, devil’s claw, doubleclaw (English) ◆ Proboscidea parviflora hangs on the nape of Dango’s neck. An early candidate for domestication, the claw-shaped seed pods are used to create the black designs in basketry. The root, seeds, and immature pods are edible, as well
Proboscidea parviflora © beelzebug
Proboscidea parviflora © mgbranstetter
Proboscidea parviflora © hydaticus
Basket claw is also thigmatropic–that is, it can move in response to physical contact. The stigma of the flower snaps shut when disturbed, in order to trap pollen from pollinators.
◆ 粘土団子 ◆
Nendo and Dango were named by Dr. Harlowe, after 粘土団子 ("nendo dango.") Taken alone, nendo means clay, and dango is a sort of dumpling formed into a ball. Together, nendo dango are hand-shaped balls of soil and seeds that are popular in environmental restoration projects. They’re also known as seedballs, earth balls, and seed bombs.
While Nendo and Dango are full of cavy mischief when they’re alone, their true potential is only realized in each other’s company. Meetings between the two spirits are filled with pure joy: they openly romp, wrestle, and play together, sending fruits and seeds flying in every direction. Over time, these meetings build seed banks of manzanita, basket claw, creosote, and other plants. The seeds can even germinate into new plants, with proper planning and care.
Others have realized that Nendo and Dango’s boundless affection for one another can be an effective restoration tool–reintroducing native species to disturbed areas, and propagating existing plants in restored areas. It’s not uncommon to see environmentally-minded esk leading the two spirits to impaired parts of the desert, so that they can work their magic.
◆ Notes ◆
- Nendo and Dango don’t speak, and rarely vocalize. But when they do, they have a colorful vocabulary of rumbles, burbles, chuffs, snorts, chirps, and wheeks.
- They are about the size of a cuy guinea pig, which is a bit larger than the domestic guinea pig common in the North American pet trade.
- Nendo and Dango are inseparable, often traveling together to visit one anothers’ haunts. They usually stick to the Pacific coast and the inland deserts of North America, but you can find them at almost any corner of the world. They sometimes visit the Conservatory on important (and inscrutable) seedball business.
- They are gendered arbitrarily, in the same way a field scientist might use gendered language to personify their subject of study.
◆ Use ◆
Feel free to reach out if you’d like to depict Nendo and Dango in your works. In general, they’re whimsical little guys who interact with the world in much the way you would expect a pint-sized nature spirit with the emotional faculties of a guinea pig to. While Nendo welcomes the company of other ghosts, it takes time and patience to get past Dango’s prickly exterior. Mostly, they just go about their business according to their own inexplicable whims.
Nendo and Dango can be used as creator esk. They’d likely make esk that are tonally similar to them– whimsical little sprites who make simple mischief. (Though the thought of them making an intense, stormy trespasser or heavy-hearted traveler is pretty fun, too!)
Sunset over Santa Catalina Island. Photo by Luke Jones