Sunday, September 7, 2008

Along came a spider...

I have always had a fascination for the creatures that others think are, well, creepy. Oscar is thoroughly disturbed by many of my close-up photos of nature's crawlies, but I am always seeking out more of them, as they are the hardest-working members of the insect world; they usually are the sanitation workers, the exterminators and the undertakers, and I have a great amount of respect for that!

That is not to say that I welcome them inside, or that I want to handle them. I just leave them to their work in their world, and enjoy them from a "safe" distance. Most spiders, contrary to popular belief, cannot even break human skin with their little jaws (yes, that big itchy bite-welt you got at summer camp was probably NOT a spider bite, so quit whining about it all these years later and freaking out every time you see webs), and only two of that species (in the Mid-Atlantic) are venomous. This big (but harmless to humans) beauty was perched on the side of a tree out front of Dog Days, and she was happy to pose for me while I took lots of pictures of her. I am sure she has done her part to eradicate the less-desirable members of the insect world for me!

Another of my unusual friends, a reptile (the beloved rodent eater); This black snake was getting in a little sun-worshiping on the drive to the house. I love the black snakes because of their pugnacious character (one once shook its tail like a rattlesnake making the leaves rustle loudly and reared up at me to try and scare me off. I was impressed by its fearlessness and its use of another snake's defense tools, even if it looked nothing like the other snake and possessed none of the venom to back up its tough stance...). This one just ignored me and let me get close enough for a few good photos. Nothing was going to ruin its sun session, not even a large lumbering primate!

The last of the butterflies are getting food where they can as fall approaches. There are lots of milk thistle flowers, mums and daisies to go around at Dog Days, and I am glad to have them for a while longer. There have been fewer and fewer large butterflies in Richmond (this year seems to be the least ever at the Goochland house. Sigh.), so I am getting in as much enjoyment of the ones at Dog Days as I can! Some of them are looking a bit worn, but that only seems to make me love them more: Tough and beautiful!
The bottom has gone yellow with the new crop of wildflowers and tall stalks of ragweed (much maligned as an allergen, but highly praised if you love wild game birds such as pheasants and quail!), dotted with the purple spikes of milk thistle.

I found a wild cherry tree that had some very sour cherries on it (gave me quite a pucker!). I thought they were a spring fruit, but maybe that is only the sweet kind that I love to snack on, but they did add a nice red color to the mostly yellow of the late summer tableau.

My pie-making skills are shaky at best, so I left these to the birds and bears this year. Maybe next year...

It is amazing what you find if you travel enough, and some strange things greet you if you only keep your eyes open. I wonder who lost this classic style in the woods long ago?
So many forgotten items, remnants of other times and previous inhabitants litter the pathways I travel. They are constant reminders of the ubiquitous influence of humans upon this little planet. No matter how deep into the forest or how far afield I go, I still find these items...

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