Category Archives: Hiking

Out Of Alignment

I’m afraid this unseasonably cold weather is my fault because I broke the “Every Holiday Has Its Day” rule. I have a Fall post that I mentally composed over a month ago but never got around to doing anything about it. Once I posted about the US Capitol Christmas Tree, I figured it was now out-of-season for the previous post. However, I didn’t realize that I’d be facing Valentine’s Day weather within next week. I feel like the universe is begging me to balance things out by posting out of turn in the other direction.

I’ll take your thank-yous in advance of the upcoming forecast. Please note it may take 4 days to 4 months to go into effect.

Prairie Webs
One cool, damp fall morning, I headed out to Midewin National Tall-Grass Prairie for a hike. I don’t run anymore. I seem to be pretty content with hiking. So be it.

Let me remind you that the prairie is fairly flat and with the exception of standing next to giant ragweed you should be able to see for miles. Trust me, it’s eerie to be standing in brilliant sunlight only to see a wall of fog just a quarter mile down the trail. To be fair, it’s eerie to stand next to 6 feet tall giant ragweed knowing that you’ll need to shoot Benadryl shortly.

IMG_4405.JPGMaybe the fog wouldn’t have seemed so ominous had I not come a across several of Halloween’s most common mascots.

IMG_4404.JPGThese webs were most likely produced by a Yellow Garden Spider or a Spined Mictathena, both common in Prairie Creek Woods at Midewin. These orbs are small in the spring and summer but get bigger and bigger as the season comes to an end.

I tell you, bigger and bigger is a fitting description for these orbs. I never noticed the orbs earlier in the summer but just before Halloween…wow. It’s as though Mother Nature wants you to know your silly decorations are no match for her.

First, she beguiles you with a splendid array of reds and yellows in the trees. You wander around blissful with a pleasant smile on your face thinking it’s just so pretty. Then Mother Nature has a laugh as you run into a single strand from a fall orb weaver. As you freak out from the feeling of the silken strand across your face, a severe chill goes down you back when you HEAR the thread snap. If your brain isn’t frozen with fear, you think “how big does a spider have to be to produce a thread that you can hear snap when you walk into it?”

IMG_4406.JPGThe sunlight happened to highlight the dew droplets on the silk thread spanning the trail ahead of me.

IMG_4403.JPGThe use of spider webs in Halloween decor didn’t just develop from intense arachnophobia, in nature they represent oncoming fall as much as colored leaves.

Happy Fall Everyone!

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