A new strain of norovirus is spreading across the Carolinas. It found its way to me, I guess. Haven’t had a stomach bug in 7 years or so. Misery! After scheduling my last two posts I got sick but am recuperating now so I will start responding to your comments and visiting your blogs soon. Tropical Storm Ophelia brushed by us leaving about an inch of rain. No wind damage that I can detect from inside my cozy nest here.
“Don’t let Mom see,” Larisa advised in an early morning text. She found a zipper spider in their garden and thought her father might like to check it out. If you, dear reader, are an arachnophobe you might want to skip this post. There are pictures. Well, I am afraid of spiders but my curiosity was piqued.
The zipper spider is also known as a garden spider, writing spider, banana spider or golden orb weaver. The female is BIG. Her abdomen can be more than inch long! The zipper, zigzag she weaves into the web is called a stabilimentum. Scientists don’t know its purpose but they have several theories. Katherine’s is that it warns birds not to get caught in the web.
We had picked up Katherine from school and asked her to show us the spider. She loves and is very knowledgeable about bugs. There was some kind of magic at work here because I didn’t feel terrified when I saw her from a safe distance, perched on her magnificent web in the bright sunshine. The giant web was hanging between two tall bushes. After admiring her size and coloring and that amazing zipper pattern I realized that we were looking at her underside.
Well, that wouldn’t do. When I expressed my disappointment to Katherine she said she would show me a way around to the other side of the web. It involved climbing up over a porch bench and jumping down into a narrow space between the house and the bushes, and then making our way between the bushes until we got to the opposite side of the web. Wow! My little Katherine was an excellent nature guide.
If the sun sets you free …
You’ll be free indeed, indeed …
She’s only happy in the sun
~ Ben Harper
♫ (She’s Only Happy in the Sun) ♫
Mind you, if I had seen this spider in the house I would have had a panic attack. But somehow, outside, it was different. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this. Why the difference? Larisa says these spiders never come in the house. Because they love the sun? Maybe because house spiders creep around in dark places is why they are so dreadful. All I know is that the words of Ben Harper’s song came to mind when I saw this one!
I have three poems,
Who counts poems?
Emily tossed hers
in a trunk, I
doubt if she counted them,
she simply opened another tea bag
and wrote a new one.
That was right. A good poem
should smell of tea.
Or of raw earth and freshly cut wood.
~ Olav H. Hauge
(The Dream We Carry: Selected & Last Poems of Olav H. Hauge)
It’s 96°F (34°C) out there with a feels like temperature of 102°F (39°C). The weather folks tell us 85°F (29°C) is the average high for this week of September in this part of North Carolina. Sigh… So. Stuck. Inside. (Very grateful for air conditioning!) We’re unpacked and pretty settled now and more than ready to explore the world outside these walls. If only this oppressive heat and humidity would go away.
To help pass the time I’ve started binge watching an off-beat streaming series, Dickinson.
The show takes an unusual approach to depicting its protagonist’s coming-of-age in the 1800s: Characters speak in Millennial parlance, the soundtrack is populated with today’s hits, and more often than not scenes resemble fever dreams where what’s figurative in Emily’s poems gets depicted literally.
~ Shirley Li
(The Atlantic, December 24, 2021)
At first I thought I might not like it but it drew me in. The costumes and scenery are all 1800s but the language and music is modern. (Except for the words of the poems themselves.) It kind of reminds me of the times we saw Shakespeare-in-the-Park plays performed, twisted in the opposite way, with modern costumes and settings but with the original language intact.
It’s pretty exciting seeing her poems come to life visually.
I’ve also been reading a book of Olav H. Hauge’s poems. (I’ve posted a few of his poems here over the years.) When he mentioned Emily Dickinson in his poem at the top of this post it warmed my heart to know that a Norwegian poet appreciated her poetry, too.
I’m looking forward to the day when it will be cool enough for us to have tea on the porch in our new home!
Contained in this short Life
Are magical extents
The soul returning soft at night
To steal securer thence
As Children strictest kept
Turn soonest to the sea
Whose nameless Fathoms slink away
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1175)
Paradoxically, life is long and brief at the same time. The more we know, the more questions we have. At some point we come to accept that there will always be limits to what we know and that no matter how long we get to live so much will remain beyond our grasp. After many years of searching for something I couldn’t name, I am at peace with not knowing. Magic is everywhere, as all children know, and science keeps almost-finding explanations for it.
This week our granddaughter is going to a Woodland Fairies & Elves day camp and we get to pick her up every afternoon and hear all about it. Recently this delightful little eight-year old, formerly known as Kat, changed her nickname to Katie, the one I began calling her when she was born. (Longtime readers of this blog will remember this.) But, when she was about 2 years old, we noticed her parents were calling her Katherine so we followed suit. A couple of years ago Katherine started calling herself Kat and now she has chosen to go with Katie.
At camp the children got to choose a moniker, too, so when we go to pick her up, “Snail” is called on a walkie-talkie to come to the pavilion to collect her belongings and then Katie/Snail shows us around the fairy village the kids are creating. Katie was very excited about an exoskeleton she had found and incorporated into her fairy house design. In my clumsy attempt to get a picture of it I accidently knocked over one of the little structures! But my granddaughter was very gracious and reassured me that no harm was done as she carefully reassembled it. Phew!
One day we got a tour of the garden where Katie picked a fairy cucumber for us. It took her a while to find one because most of them had already been harvested. That day a counselor had brought in homemade fairy pickles for the campers to enjoy.
We’ve been so busy that keeping up with blogging has proven almost impossible. I am happy to report that we now have North Carolina drivers licenses and the car is registered with a NC plate. There are still things left to take care of on the “to-do” list but I am hoping by the time the hot weather relents we will have settled enough to get outside for our nature walks once again. Even the small amount of time we spend outside picking Katie up is very taxing for Tim. One day the “feels like” temperature was 98°F. Tomorrow the forecasters are calling for the hottest day of the year so far…
It’s been a while! We moved into our new place a couple of weeks ago and then the POD arrived with all our worldly goods a week after that. Dima & Larisa and a couple of their friends unloaded the POD on that hot afternoon. The next day friends and relatives came by and got us started reassembling bookcases, etc. We’ve been unpacking and taking empty cardboard boxes to the recycling center ever since.
We found a lovely little one-story townhouse to lease. The neighbors are so welcoming! Next door is a woman who also moved down here to be near her grandchildren. Another neighbor came over with a homemade pecan pie to introduce herself. And another brought sunflowers and cherry tomatoes from the farmers market!
I’m loving having everything on one floor. And we’re located close to our grandchildren, a six-minute drive away. 🙂 We are nestled into a cul-de-sac in a very quiet and heavily wooded neighborhood. There are so many trees here, and so much wildlife, that I decided to change the name of my blog to In the Woods!
It’s hot, too, as expected. The other day the heat index reached 103°! But we’re grateful for the central air conditioning. With dewpoints in the 70s every morning we probably won’t be taking any walks for a couple of months.
The above picture was taken from our front porch, looking up. Moving from a noisy city to this peaceful neighborhood has been such a blessing. And now I’m looking forward to settling in and then catching up with my blogging friends as soon as possible!
You wouldn’t think it was spring, Austin, if you were at home this morning, for we had a great snowstorm yesterday, and things are all white this morning. It sounds funny enough to hear birds singing and sleigh-bells at a time. But it won’t last long, so you needn’t think ’twill be winter at the time when you come home.
~ Emily Dickinson
(Letter to William Austin Dickinson, March 24, 1852)
Springtime snowstorms were not uncommon in southern New England a hundred seventy-one years ago. They happened often enough when I was a child, sixty odd years ago. I prepared this post several years ago, hoping that we might get one again and I could use Emily’s words to go along with the weather. But it was not to be and since this is my last spring in New England I decided to post it now, in fond memory of times gone by.
My grandmother took these pictures of me and our family’s adored pet Sheltie, Skipper. I was 13 years old, a brand new teenager, and Skipper was about 4 years old. My sister has been diligently digitizing my grandmother’s huge slide collection and it’s been fun discovering these glimpses back into our childhood.
Skipper was the only dog I’ve ever had. When I was a toddler I was bit by a dog, an event I don’t remember. But I do remember my parents encouraging me to pet a friendly dog at some point afterwards, in order to help me overcome my fear. It didn’t work. My fear of dogs has plagued me for my whole life, although now it’s only with larger dogs.
I was about 9 years old when my mother brought a little puppy named Skipper into our lives. I was afraid of him in the beginning. The first time my parents left me at home alone with him I got very nervous and climbed up on top of the dining room table. Skipper kept running circles around the table and there I sat until my parents came home. Goodness knows what he must have been wondering about me!
Eventually I lost my fear of him and we became good friends. My mother took him to obedience school and he was very well-mannered, affectionate and loyal. One day I brought a new kitten home. Christopher and Skipper got along well, right from the start. One evening while we were watching TV, Skipper nonchalantly walked into the living room with a playful kitten hanging on to his belly fur, upside down. 🙂
We took Skipper camping, hiking and canoeing with us on summer vacations. During the school year my sister and I were responsible for “running” him when we got home from school. (We were latchkey kids because both of my parents worked outside the home.) He was good about fetching sticks and balls, and obeyed the “drop-it” command flawlessly, but eventually he couldn’t resist his natural instinct to herd. And he loved to herd us around the yard and into the woods.
Since my father was a research scientist at the University of Connecticut, originally an agricultural college, he got permission to take Skipper to the sheep barns on campus. They allowed him to herd the sheep around the fields. It was fun to watch him zipping around, completely in his element.
He had one quirk we laughed about often. When visitors drove down the driveway and came to the door he would never bark to announce their arrival. But when my parents came home he would bark and bark until they got inside. My father kept joking that he didn’t make a very good guard dog. 🙂
Even though I do miss Skipper, I’m pretty sure he was one-of-a-kind and I’ve never desired to have another dog. But whenever I’m out and about and happen to spot a Sheltie my heart stirs and I ask permission to pet them.
So, Tim has been feeding peanuts to a squirrel all winter. Then my dear blogging friend Linda suggested he try feeding them walnuts. On our next trip to the grocery store we looked in vain for walnuts. Tim asked the produce guy about it and he said they only had walnuts at Christmas time. Undaunted, Tim then found someone selling walnuts on Etsy, of all places. He also did some research and learned that walnuts are better nutrition than peanuts for for squirrels. Soon, the order arrived and four walnuts were put out on the balcony. It wasn’t long before they were discovered. This guy made quick work of his prize, sitting on the railing and in the sunshine. Lucky photo op through the sliding glass doors for me!
This morning Tim tried rolling a walnut towards the squirrel and it accepted the delivery without running away. I’m sorry I missed it!