#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.

#4809

Nendo

Nendo. He's a funny little esk that's shaped like a guinea pig, or maybe a tiny capybara. He has a dusky coat of fur, with a bright red bib marking on his chest and a dark mask. A single, quail-like topknot bobs on the back of his head. There is a branch of Santa Catalina Island manzanita looped around his neck, with verdant leaves growing here and there.
Origin: Traveler
Nature: Pacific
Boundary: Pimu
(Santa Catalina Island)
Size: Manageable
Nature Features: Santa Catalina Island manzanita
(Arctostaphylos catalinae)

The Arid Biome badge.

◆ Growth Points ◆

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Masterlist

◆ Personality ◆

Nendo is the “nice” one. A gentle and calm spirit, he seems to take a simple joy in everything he does.

And he does a little bit of everything: chasing the surf, collecting seeds and shells, hiding under the prickly pears, bobbing on the water, sunning himself among the rocks, stowing away in ships and kayaks... Nendo can’t be described as “busy”, but he’s certainly never bored. He takes the world on at his own pace, which moves at about half a mile per hour at best.

Nendo can fill his days all on his own, but he seems to enjoy sharing them with other ghosts, too. Many esk find his easy-going attitude and unhurried energy soothing. He’s more inclined to quiet commensalism than to “asking” anything of others– even for something as small as a helping hand, or a moment of their attention. Still, he’s known to play simple games now and then.

Mostly, Nendo just wants to nap and explore his haunt in good company. Everything else can be accomplished in its own time.

◆ Boundary ◆

An aerial photo of Pimu. The island is a ruddy brown assembly of mountains on a deep blue pacific ocean.Catalina Island © Doc Searls

A cloudbank over the island, with short scrubby trees and grasses abound below.Catalina Island © Kyle Harmon

The coastline of Pimu. Low scrub overtakes the foreground, with glassy blue seas in the middle ground and the rolling hills of Pimu beyond. A single prickly pear peeks out of the greenery.Catalina coastline © briandjan607

Nendo lives at Pimu, or Santa Catalina Island, which is off the coast of California. Like the other Channel Islands, Pimu exists at the ecological crossroads of the Pacific ocean, the California coast, the interior desert, the temperate North, and beyond. The island is a refuge for many endemic species who trace their ancestry to relatives from abroad– some of which have gone extinct on the mainland, but are survived by their island counterparts.

These communities exist even though Pimu has never been geographically connected to the mainland. At some point or another, all of its residents have made the 20-mile journey across the ocean in order to reach the island. In fact, Pimu’s isolation is the very reason that it contains such a rich assembly of relic and endemic species; those that couldn’t cope with changes on the mainland found sanctuary at the island. Meanwhile, newcomers were cut off from their relatives on the mainland, and they quickly became distinct species specialized for island life.

Pimu has a rich human history, too. First called home by the Tongva and Chumash, Pimu became a house as well as a hub for trade and industry. Here, the Tongva and Chumash build ti’ats and tomols, which are redwood boats waterproofed with asphaltum from the naturally-occurring tarballs that wash up on the coast. Sailing has historically connected the Tongva and Chumash to many peoples along the Pacific coast, as well as the intricate inland trade network of the wider Americas. So interconnected is the island with the mainland that the Pimu Catalina Island Archaeology Project has mapped the movement of goods from Pimu to abroad. At least one axe was found at Pimu that was crafted by the Hohokam of the Salt River Valley, in south-central Arizona. Likewise, Chumash goods have traveled with the Quechan as far East as the Colorado River Valley–and probably beyond.

This legacy endures today. The Chumash hold an annual tomol crossing between the Channel Islands and the coast of California. Similarly, the ti’at is experiencing a reawakening among a new generation of Tongva wayfarers. Though Pimu has endured radical change, it’s efforts like these that close the loop between island and mainland, people and home.

A narrow between two mountains, looking out at the sea. The slopes are lush and the trees a deep green, perhaps from a wet year.Catalina Island © Adam Reeder

A cloud rolls low over foggy Pimu. The slopes of the island are a cool green, and even the prickly pear in the foreground looks happy.Santa Catalina Island © Mitch Barrie

A harbor at Pimu. A small boat bobs on the surface of the sea, while brown kelp sways in the waters below.Two Harbors © islandgyrl

◆ Nature Features ◆

Santa Catalina Island manzanita. It's a short, scrubby bush with vivid, green leaves that are shaped like little diamonds. Its bark is two-tone, with smooth and vivid striations of mahogany overlayed on rough, steely-grey wood.Arctostaphylos catalinae © jeffbisbee

A detail photo of manzanita bark. The mahogany striations are colorful and smooth compared to the shaggy, snag-like strips of grey wood that peek through.Arctostaphylos catalinae © jeffbisbee

Santa Catalina Island manzanita growing a little taller than usual. Its mahogany bark is shedding in little paper-like strips.Arctostaphylos catalinae © jeffbisbee

Sovuuchey ("manzanita," Tongva) Santa Catalina Island Manzanita (English) Arctostaphylos catalinae is looped around Nendo’s neck. Endemic to Pimu, the Santa Catalina Island manzanita has a unique relationship with a fellow endemic, the island fox (Urocyon littoralis.)

On the mainland, manzanita seeds generally germinate after fires. But on Pimu, wildfires are relatively rare. How does the Santa Catalina Island manzanita reproduce in a fireless environment? We’d expect the plant to struggle–and yet it’s all over the island.

The island fox is the secret to the manzanita’s success. When the fox eats the manzanita’s fruits, the seeds become softened in its stomach and are later dispersed around the island. From here, they can germinate and grow into a new plant. In this way, the two have provided for one another through deep time.

Interestingly, the manzanita may also owe a debt of gratitude to the Chumash. It’s thought that they brought the island fox to Pimu from the other Channel Islands, perhaps as companion or hunting animals.

Santa Catalina Island manzanita flowers. They're white and bell-shaped, growing in small clusters and blushing pink at the tips.Arctostaphylos catalinae © John Rusk

Santa Catalina Island manzanita berries. They're somewhat blueberry shaped, but bright red when ripe!Arctostaphylos catalinae © kiloueka

More Santa Catalina Island manzanita flowers. These ones are pure white.Arctostaphylos catalinae © kiloueka

◆ 粘土団子 ◆

Seedballs

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