I’d like to know the language of the grove, to understand the subtle conversation of the trees. To speak without words, to give and to take as they need, to sustain and support through heat waves and storms – there’s a special kind of magic in those ancient roots and rustling leaves.
What’s left when the leaves have fallen and the grass has gone fallow? Once the air’s grown cold and the night sky’s shifted, once the frost has come and covered the hills and meadows, what’s left to us in this new season of darkness? To rest, to sleep, to build a hearth fire, to watch it snow. To breathe deep and release a sigh out among the coming winter winds. These belong to us, are made for us and left to us by the maiden and the mother and the crone. Just as it begins when new things grow in a world made bright, the old year ends quiet and star light, with a gentle and a loving letting go.
Well, I suppose I spoke too soon about checking in on her, because my new writing spider buddy has already moved on. I read that they tend to stick close to the same area throughout their lifetimes, so I hope she’s somewhere nearby, safe and sound and spinning a beautiful web.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not particularly squeamish about bugs and other creepy crawlies. (Except snakes.) I find them pretty fascinating, actually. (Except snakes.) So when Graham snapped a shot of this colorful lady while he was out doing some work on the house yesterday, my first thought was, “What a pretty spider!”
And she is, isn’t she?
I did some research today, and it turns out, this giantess is an Argiope aurantia, sometimes called the writing spider. They’re known for the patterns they weave into their webs, which often look like X’s and Z’s. They’re not aggressive, but they will bite if provoked, and they tend to stay in one place throughout their lifetimes. And an interesting bit of folklore: It’s been said that if you tear down a writing spider’s web or try to harm it, the spider will build a new web the next day with your name written in silk, thereby cursing you with bad luck.
So, I’ll leave her alone, then. Which is my general rule of thumb anyway, when it comes to spiders.
But it does feel sort of appropriate to have a writing spider close by. I certainly don’t plan to bother her, but I think it’s pretty likely that I’ll check on her every now and again, if only to see what new patterns she’s created.
They arrive and darken the skies. With a boom and a crack, like sprinters on a track, they test their mettle for the measure of a moment. And in the end, they are like victory – so very short, nearly fleeting. But never, ever sweet.
I’d lamented last week that I hadn’t seen a single cicada in my yard, and who should stop by shortly after but this little weirdo! I didn’t see him in person, sadly. He was hanging out on the bush that Graham can see from his desk, and Graham snapped a picture before he flew away. Not ideal, sure, but I’ll take what I can get!
Brood X. That’s what they’re called. Billions of cicadas, emerging from a 17-year underground nap, all over the Northeast U.S., including Northern Virginia.
These critters are seriously fascinating. I know they’re a little odd to look at, but they’re just the sort of oddity of nature that I find super compelling. (I’ve never been particularly squeamish about bugs. Well, except ladybugs. But that’s a post for another day.)
I hear these little winged weirdos are pretty good for the environment, and, though I’m not brave enough to try them, one restaurant nearby is even serving them in tacos.
It’s too bad I haven’t seen a single one at my house. Those pictures? My sister-in-law, who lives a few towns over, took them. This one, too.
Apparently, I live in a tiny pocket of Loudoun County that sees a different brood’s migration. I’m disappointed. I feel like this should be the soundtrack of my early summer…
The fox kits that live under our barn have been extra active this week. Look at them!
They’re almost grown! They’re so big, you guys. And their little tails are so fluffy! I’ll be sad to see them leave their den, but red foxes tend to stick to the same area their whole lives, so hopefully we’ll still see them around from time to time.
“What lovely flowers,” I say, and what I mean is: “I see how much work it took to create this blissful space. It’s something I could never do, at least, not without significant difficulty. I appreciate the beautiful things you’ve planted and nurtured. I can see the love in your heart, because you’ve poured it into these little pink sunbursts, and all of the others around us, too. I’m grateful for this time with you in your garden.” But that’s a mouthful and a half, and we’ve got limited time this visit. So what I say is simply, “What lovely flowers.” And I trust that you’ll get the message.