Right-brained Spiders and Waltzing Milkweed

It’s finally fall here in Indiana. I don’t say finally because I’ve been pining for it, but because we have historically been a four seasons state, with each season announcing its arrival by loudly banging on the door insisting we acknowledge it.

But this year winter’s polar vortex must have humbled the other three seasons. Spring showed up like a quavering girl at the semi-formal dance, summer snuck in through the side door pretending it was here on time, and then on September 26th when the Monarch Ultra team ran through Fort Wayne the temperature was 90 degrees when it should’ve been somewhere in the 70s.

I am happiest with my garden in fall. My OCD and perfectionism magically defer to my sense of completion. I leave stalks up and leaves down for the wintering fauna so there’s little for me to putz with and that’s okay.

I gather some seeds, dry some flower heads, and nudge the allium bulbs back under soil, though I know they’ll surface again tomorrow.  The squirrels at my house have a sardonic wit. They unearth the bulbs, roll them about six inches in any direction and leave them there. It’s a long game of fetch we have going but I just can’t seem to get upset even though they mostly select only the expensive bulbs I got at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

Bored with the game, one of the squirrels fancies himself an artist and is currently in what seems to be a vaguely Picasso-inspired mood.

The milkweed pods have burst open and silk laden seeds topple out, the fallen confetti of a summer after-party. Some waltz off, imitating the flights of the butterflies who grew on their leaves while others roost in the tangles of sunflower stalks. One perched on a zinnia for awhile, a last look around before setting sail.

Spiderweb etchings become illuminated by the morning dew, and I am delighted to see we have both left- and right-brained spider tenants. An organized web is certainly lovely but the abstract web that seems to mimic the constellations is prize worthy.

Some years ago I watched a spider knit her web between a gutter and roofline. She worked methodically, unwaveringly. Never did she pull back, glower at
her work and scrap it. She spun confidently, beautifully. The Bob Ross of web design.

I searched spider webs on the internet and read an article that talked about instinct and mechanics. I think that’s a disservice to the spiders. Sure, they have survival instincts, but why can’t they also be creatives? Silk artists. I know the star maker spider in our yard is.

Writing gives me that cathartic feeling. The exhausted-in-a-good-way release. So I do it whether or not it turns out well, or anyone reads it. Which is, I believe, part and parcel of wonder. Exploring something that makes you happy just to see what happens.

Humans cannot be the only living things capable of wonder. Birds and insects and dolphins and squirrels must have some version of the capacity to wonder. I’m talking about full contact, snow angel, face plant creative wonder.

Those birds that build that crazy gorgeous love dens to attract other birds have to have some artistic creativity. Butterflies migrating south don’t zipline straight down, they lilt and meander. Dolphins play– actually play— in the waves. And my right-brained star maker spider made her milky way web right next door to the HOA-approved web.

I continue to rework my definition of wonder, and today I’m thinking it’s something like thinking outside the box. Or pushing past a limit. Wanting to see what happens. Or not thinking at all, just creating. A web, a blog, a mess, a scene. Whatever it is, I love it.

Happy wondering.

P.S. Here’s your lagniappe for reading this far. It’s the bowerbird flirting, and may I suggests you read some of the comments afterward. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XkPeN3AWIE

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