Sep 20, 2006

Nature Never Did Betray The Heart That Loved Her

I have that on a little clay plaque on my desk here, right beside my monitor.

I also think that Nature has the power to soothe me when things all around me are tinged with black.

I wish that I could believe that there is some controlling force in life, some higher power. That way I could say that this Entity or Force or Spirit put certain things in motion to make my day better a few days ago, but I know better. I have a hard time believing in a being that would go out of their way that far to make one guy smile. Just a little too much to swallow, as the hooker said to the sailor.

See, I was having one of those black-tinged days, and it seemed that Nature Herself was out to get my mind off it. It started at work when I glanced up at the front glass doors to see a very sizeable preying mantis clinging steadfastly to the glass. No mean feat in itself, but for me to see that specific shape triggered such a happiness.

You see, I love preying mantids. I love their alien look, their long legs, and their inquisitive, mobile heads. So I did what any red-blooded nature-lover would do: I went out there and gently plucked this beauty off the glass and let it crawl around on my hand for a while. And took pictures, natch.

I so like that colour pattern, which is hard to see when you use a camera phone for pictures. Green legs, yellow-orange forelegs, and a gorgeous bark-pattern brown on it's thorax and wing-covers. Striking.

So, I played for a few minutes, let my new friend go out in the grass, and came back in. Headed home for lunch, and that's when the fun really began.

See, the hummingbirds have been hungry. Deeply so. When I come home for lunch, first stop is to refill the Hummingbird Refueling Station. Which I proceeded to do. Under the watchful, beady black eyes of a gorgeous little female Ruby-Throat, who hovered all of a foot from my right eye, staring me down, daring me to hang the feeder back up anything shy of FULL.

When I stepped back onto the patio, I stood there for a few minutes by the glass door to watch the gang return and start feeding, and to listen to their spiky, high-pitched squeaks and peeps, and the constant thrum of their wings. This is nothing new for me, but that momentary pause gave me my THIRD surprise.

There's a tiny little windchime that my MIL bought for the house years ago, that hangs about a foot from the feeder. It's been a constant perch for the little hummers, because it's small and innocuous enough that they feel comfortable there. Well, seems it is also small and innocuous for spiders to lay their eggs.

What I thought at first was pollen floating below the chimes was in fact hundreds of almost microscopic baby spiders, freshly hatched, each descending from the chimes by invisible threads, all of them blowing gently back and forth in the breezes from the hummingbird's wings. I stood there enraptured, trying desperately to focus my eyes enough to see their legs, which I simply could not do--they were so tiny they appeared as nothing more than little golden dust motes, swaying together in a sort of Brownian motion, back and forth, to and fro, and each one slowly spinning out more of their invisible twine, lowering themselves tiny distances, until one by one they spun out tiny parachute lines and launched themselves into the wide open, to land somewhere and start their lives.

I thought I'd had my just due, but Nature had one more tiny surprise in store for me. I had driven Rita, my truck, to work that day, and arriving back at the office I stepped out and closed the door as always, but this time I was greeted by a tiny green head poking out from around the seam between door edge and cab.

Seems this little green knuckle-sized tree frog had decided that it was in his best interests to ride along with me from home to work, and my little stowaway had managed his scheme. So, all things being fair in love and transport, I caught him up and moved him over to the grass, where he'd have more fun than he would in the gravel parking lot.

The best part of that? Seeing those tiny golden eyes, with their black rims and specks of black pupils, and that compact, athletic green body twisting around on his perch on my finger so he could keep a close watch on me, just in case I suddenly decided I was peckish and in the mood for a nice bit of Crunchy Frog.

Sometimes I really wish I believed. And most times I'm just glad I know how to slow down just long enough to see the little things that are spread before me, before all of us.

And I'm always glad it wasn't a Ram's Bladder Cup, with or without lark's vomit.


Stucco said...

Hmm... "Nature never did betray the heart that loved her" eh? You think Steve Irwin saw it that way? I myself have not found it in me to forgive nature- IT knows what it did... And for mosquitos.

Vulgar Wizard said...


Scott from Oregon said...

I swam with an eight inch praying mantis once in a pool in a rain forest. Thought it was a stick until I saw the Psalms it was reading...

Nancy Dancehall said...

That's the tiniest frog I've ever seen.