Monday, September 29, 2014

A Day of Paying Attention

“It is quite possible that an animal has spoken to me and that I didn't catch the remark because I wasn't paying attention.”   ― E.B White, Charlotte's Web      

Last week, on Review This! I wrote about the Shawan Downs Legacy Chase annual benefit steeplechase in Maryland.  I love going to watch the horses race around the course, jumping over a variety of fences.  It is an amazing, good time.

I made it a point to go again this year.  The weather Saturday was perfect. Following days of cold and rain, Saturday was a sunny, clear-skied day in the 70's.

Moving from one spot, to the next, finally settling on the deserted back fence. I sat in the long grass along the very old fence. Between races I admire the lichen on some of the ancient wooden rails.  Then I realized, despite my best efforts to find privacy, I was not alone.

Dancing spiders
There were spiders moving and dancing along these flat old hardwood boards.  I wasn't sure if they were marking their territories or trying to mate. Perhaps they were warning me to leave. Every few inches there was one of these thumbnail sized spiders. They slowly moved along, back and forth, lifting their hind ends high then dropping them, like hydraulics on a car in a parade. Up and down, up and down, while moving back and forth.

At first I nearly squealed. I'm not extremely afraid of spiders, but I do hate walking into webs when I hike and I'm afraid of the ones that jump.  Initially, I thought these would jump. They looked aggressive. I thought they would move up and down, up and down, side to side, then jump on me.  But they never jumped.

As I watched, mesmerized, I began to notice the webs spitting out of the spider's caboose.  I could see it with my naked eye, spurt, shooting off into the wind, iridescent in the sun.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Look closely, see the web?
I watched and tried to photograph the dances and web spurting, being very careful not to rest my elbows on the top board again in lieu of a tripod.  I was vaguely aware of people walking by, probably wondering what in the world the crazy lady was doing.  Why bursts of shutter clicking while no horses were running?

But I remained focused on the spiders. And their dances. Amazed at how relatively thick and how long the webs were. String after string, like invisible kites being guided by the spider's hiney. Not forming a cobweb, but streamers of spider string blowing to the sky.

The spiders had begun to look less ominous.  In fact, I began to think of one of my very favorite books of all time. Charlotte's Web.  What a great story.  And something was scratching away at the back of my brain.  I knew I had read a fun review about Charlotte's Web. Now just who wrote that thing, I asked myself over and over.

Charlotte's Web
I returned home and found it, the reviewer of Charlotte's Web was Mary Beth's granddaughter.  That explains why the review stuck in my head. Do you want to read a cute and insightful review from the perspective of a little girl? I am five times Rachel's age of 10 but I still love Charlotte. Isn't it amazing how a good story can stick with us for our entire life?

And that was how I spent my Saturday at Shawan Downs, watching horses fly and spiders dance.  

Written by Dawn Rae
Images of spiders by Dawn Rae

Disclosure: In affiliation with AllPosters.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.


13 comments:

  1. What a beautiful and delightful step into nature you got with those tiny creatures. There is so much to appreciate in nature, if we just stop to pay attention. Your photos were well worth being considered a crazy lady.

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    1. Thank you! I'm usually embarrassed about people watching me do weird things... but those spiderwebs were enthralling. Thank you for the sweet words.

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  2. Your photographs are outstanding. I don't think I want to get that close to any spiders, so am glad your camera captured the moment for me so I could view them from a distance. :) Love your descriptions as much as your photos. Your words make the moment come alive for me as if I had been there.

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    1. I am so glad that I was able to take you there. It was quite an experience. And I don't always get my camera to behave (the problem is that it is smarter than I am, I think) haha... so I was very glad that some of the photos came out so well.

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  3. Spiders are so cool. I'm always stopping on our hikes to photograph one of our local beauties. What an awesome day you had!

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    1. Spiders are cool... but they do creep me out a little bit. They are SO huge around here. It was an awesome day.

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  4. Let the spiders dance! My son would love to hear how you were mesmerized by the spiders web waltz. When you first started describing what you were seeing them do, I wondered if you were seeing them preparing to shoot their webs. I am glad you hung around long enough to find out for sure. I really love that you are so in tune with nature that you will wait and watch. I would have enjoyed watching the horses fly and the spiders dance with you. Thank you for writing the experience. It was almost as good as being there myself. Oh, and Yes, I can see the web, btw.

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    1. Mouse, that is so cool that you guessed they were getting ready to shoot their webs. I had no clue. I am glad I waited too!

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  5. There are not too many people for whom I would even look at a photo of a spider, but you, Dawn Rae, are one of the few for whom I did. And I didn't even squeal! I once actually forced myself to watch a spider spin its web, for hours, so I was pretty sure that's where your story was headed. As enjoyable as your storytelling is and as wondrous as your spider images are--I am now out of here!

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  6. haha... Ruth... well, I did consider that there would be many people who would not even be able to enter the blog...so I'm very appreciative that you commented.

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  7. Whoa, those are terrific spider photos, really great job - you had me thinking more about their dance and the interesting aspect of them as oppose to the shivers I would normally get just looking at them; quite fascinating - and love Charlotte's Web too :)

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