Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Perils of Walking in Autumn

The hummingbirds have already headed south for winter and autumn color is slowly seeping in but it’s hard to imagine fall when it’s hot as a skillet outside.
The other morning as I drove down the Empire Road I passed an old barn in a meadow and the old fencerow was covered with honey suckle vines. Along the barbed wire and half-rotted cedar posts was a stand of golden rod and sumac – the color was stunning. Out in the pasture there was a light mist hovering over the sage and bitter weed giving the cows and mules an ethereal appearance. I wanted to take a photograph but I had early morning commuters on my bumper and there was no place to pull off safely so I took a mental snapshot, which was almost as good.
I am ready for the weather to get cooler because I love walking on cool crisp autumn mornings. The dogs are always waiting at the gate when I step out the back door and are jumping up and down with pure unadulterated joy. The instant I open the gate it’s like being at Greentrack except my dogs head off in every direction like chickens with their heads cut off.
I do not worry about snakes much when the weather cools, but spiders are a different story all together. It seems they find any open space in the woods and weave a web big enough to snag a quail. They must import silk from China.
You haven’t lived until you are on a peaceful walking meditation one morning out in the woods as the morning light filters through the orange, gold and crimson foliage. You feel as if you are walking through the Garden of Eden when all of a sudden, whack – you have a face full of finely spun silk and a spider on your head that feels as big as a kitten. When this occurs, you tend to do some interesting evasive maneuvering. On a walk last fall, my wife Jilda got a face full of web and a spider on her head. She too had some interesting moves but hers were accompanied by – who, who, who, who, who, who, who, and followed by GET THIS @#$#$ $%%^^%$ ##% ^&& THING OFF OF ME!!!!!!!!!!!!
After she stopped swearing and her blood pressure fell below 1000/1000, she waxed philosophical. "You know, I know these things have a right to be here, but I wish they were all somewhere else – like on W’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. I thought to myself, that would have certain symmetry to it.
When I told this story to a woman at work, she said “when are y'all gonna move”, as if the walk to the barn was out of the question after the encounter with the spider.
I'm sitting on the screened-in porch right now as I write this column and off to the west, the sun is behind the clouds and the sky is the color of butterscotch. Up in the corner of the porch is a tangle of cobwebs catching the fading light which makes it look like cotton candy. Sitting right here and now, I actually consider them a gift.

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