“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Yesterday, when I was coiling the hose up, I saw this little black spider. It was one of those sightings that, in the middle of the busy school year, I probably wouldn't have taken the time to really notice. But I hunkered down and watched. For one thing it was superfast. I mean, if it was the size of a human it could have run 50 miles per hour. Maybe a hundred. It ran, stopped, ran, stopped. I took out my phone and snapped a picture while it was still.
Just a plain little spider. But a wonder.
There are wonders of nature all around, right? It is one of the best things about living in the forest. There are amazing creatures if you look down, that's for sure. They aren't the ospreys or the foxes, they aren't the obvious, showy ones that you enjoy from a distance like the deer or the raccoons. But they are an important part of the whole.
Speaking of spiders, I came upon this mama wolf spider out behind our place with her brood on her back. Fascinating. It was crawling with babies who didn't think it was time to be on their own yet. Probably three inches from leg to leg, She leaped off the fence as I approached with my phonecam. When she did, many of her little ones bounced off into a life of their own. Ready or not.
The cicadas are coming out now. Our dog Mallie scared one up the other day and it startled me as it flew by my face buzzing loudly. You hear them in the trees, sounding for a mate. But they'd better hurry. They can live a long time as larvae, but as adults they pretty much only have one purpose. Mate. Then they become part of the rest of the natural world, being recycled into some other animal, grateful for the nourishment.
This year I greased up the pole. No black snake was going to get them this time. Let them find their own meals. I wasn't going to furnish baby bluebirds if I could help it. Early this June we saw a pair scoping out the box, bringing pinestraw. In and out. In and out. There were four babies. We got the chance to peek in from time to time to watch them develop. Then we saw them at the hole, taking a tentative look at their new world. While I never saw them actually leave the nest, I'm confident that at least some of them made it. No snake entre this time.
I check the boxes pretty regular. Sometimes we have an unexpected guest. I saw this little flying squirrel making itself as small as possible when I opened the door. I have never seen these guys at night around there, they are small and stealthy and, like phantoms or fairies, just don't like to be noticed by us big folk. I felt like an intruder as I hooked the door shut again and snuck away as softly as possible. It hasn't been back since. But it is always welcome.
I know a lot of people who simply hate snakes. All snakes. The very thought of a snake makes them quiver. Grown-ups who should know better. Once a few years back I saw some young adults near our boat ramp burning a snake alive, torching it with a spray paint can and a lighter. Why? Because it was a snake. No other reason.
Me? I love snakes. Not in a stupid way. I don't want to pick up every snake I see. I respect venomous ones and keep a thoughtful distance. I am always intrigued. But not ignorant. Here is a black racer I saw in the yard across the road from us. It reared up as I took my phone camera out, pulling back and making itself look big and tough. I kept a respectful distance but took a few pictures. When its bluff didn't work, it streaked off in a shiny blur of blueblack scales.