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Posts Tagged ‘Halloween snow’

Even before the leaves surrender their greens for red and gold, there are other changes afoot – creatures prepare for the coming winter, some rallying in their final efforts to survive before their lives slowly wind down to a natural end.

Each year in this house I watch an orb-weaving spider weave a large and complex web over the top half of a kitchen window.

It doesn’t seem a very auspicious spot, as her prey would need to be flying through the web to the glass not even a half inch behind. Yet each year, through some species memory I can’t possibly understand, a spider builds her web here. She catches an occasional small insect, and each night rebuilds her web. With temperatures becoming chillier and less prey about, she becomes weaker from lack of food. With less silk to spin, her web becomes less detailed until at last, the strands are a broken tangle of fine thread, a shadow of her once articulated masterpiece. And then she is gone.

I found myself watching her, in quiet awe of her determination to survive in spite of the reality of colder nights and imminent death. Some lesson in life for me, no doubt.

Perhaps a week or so after the spider’s web had disappeared, a seemingly small monster – from this side of the glass – cast a large shadow in the same window. A Chinese praying mantis. Where had he come from? Last year, a green praying mantis hung out all season on or around my office window, where we had several conversations and a few photo shoots. But I’d never seen the larger and brown Chinese mantis since I’ve lived here. He did his monster shadow for the morning, and then flew about my front and side porches in the awkward way they do, like a helicopter with a broken blade. No doubt he was scouting out a last meal as well. He, too, soon disappeared.

As we moved into late October, anticipating Halloween, temperatures dropped, moisture gathered and froze, and suffocated the clinging leaves, dropping trees like so many sticks.

It was unexpectedly beautiful, but deadly, and the sudden snowstorm rolled long nights over the state, especially in my area. Halloween evening arrived and bundled children with chilled parents came from other towns to ours; they still had no power, but happily, here we all had our porch lights on, tombstones eerily lit, and plenty of candy.

I took a drive around my area the following day, where the severity of the damage was evident. It looked like a war zone. Barricades and closed roads were everywhere, but so much worse was the devastation of the trees. Magnificent elders had split and cracked like twigs, graceful limbs lay on the ground. It was heartbreaking.

And then, another sign of determination – the leaf which will not fall.

Many of the taller shrubs and a fair amount of surrounding trees still have quite a bit of their leaves. This tree? Only one stubborn leaf remains. I wonder did he win a contest this year with some other now-fallen leaf who could finally hold on no longer. Or is he a tall scout, updating the lower shrubbery on how advances the autumn. Or perhaps he’s simply the last man standing.

And then this morning … a thick autumn fog. It couldn’t have looked more lovely, an invitation to be lost for just a little while. I could have stayed until the sun shone through. But such is not my life.

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