There’s no better time than Christmas to become
the kind of seeker the wise men embodied.
Wise people still seek Christ.
Reposting this later than I had intended but life has been a little crazy lately! Merry Christmas!!
The holidays are here! And while this is a joyous time of year, we need to be aware that there can be added dangers for our pets this time of year. Here is a list of some common things that can pose a threat to our four-legged friends around the holidays.
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I’ll just come right out and say it. Fall was a little blah in Middle Tennessee this year. I’ve lived here 59 years and I can’t remember such a colorless autumn, especially right in our own neighborhood. Our maple trees never did get any color. Their leaves stayed green, then turned brown and crinkly, and then fell to the ground. The two trees that I usually love to photograph every year in our neighborhood due to their magnificent orange, yellow, and red colors, were just, well, dull this year. No color at all. I heard on the news that if you hoped to see any autumnal colors in Tennessee this year that you would need to drive to East Tennessee, near the mountains.
Hubby and I went to our favorite state park a couple of weeks ago. There was very little color, when compared to previous years, although you might not think that from these photos because when we did come across the handful of trees that did have color, I stopped and took pictures. We only saw one tree which had red in it (or a few red branches I should say), a few trees with yellow leaves, but mostly just green and browns.
I also heard on the news that we only had three fall-like days here. It seemed to go from summer to winter temperature-wise.
Still, I love fall and it’s always been my favorite time of the year.
How have the fall colors been in your area this year?
I cried today when I found the dead body of a garden spider friend I’ve been watching every single day for the past two months or more. I called her Autumn. And after finding Autumn’s little deceased and crumpled body this morning, my husband was ready to have me committed when I told him I wanted to bury her. I was dead serious.
Middle Tennessee had its first frost on Halloween night. We had our second frost last night. Garden spiders usually perish with the first frost. Autumn perished with the second frost. Poor moribund Autumn stayed in her web until 3 am yesterday morning throughout temperatures in the low to mid 30s. Halloween night, I watched her crawl down the brick under the window where her web was, the first time she had left her web in the two months since she took up residence there. I knew she was going off to die. I told her goodbye and I told her I would watch her egg sacs for her when she was gone. After all, she had worked so very hard at making them, and then protecting them.
When I got up yesterday morning, Autumn’s web was empty. And I felt such a sadness. But then just a while later while standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye, and looked up, and there was Autumn! She was ascending ever so slowly towards the center of her web where she had lived happily for the past two months, close to her egg sacs. She was cold and weak and looked so thin and fragile. She was no longer her plump, healthy, and vigorous looking self.
She stayed there near her two egg sacs all day and all night yesterday. When I went to bed last night, it was 36 degrees and SO cold out. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing my Autumn girl again. When I awoke this morning, I went to the kitchen window and as I suspected, her web was empty. I went outside and looked around and found her lifeless little body under our recycling bin, directly underneath her web. She was gone. And I wept. Wept just as I had that 3rd grade day when the teacher read the ending of Charlotte’s Web to the class and I learned that Charlotte the spider had died without ever seeing her babies. I wept because in some strange way, I felt I had lost a friend. I wept because 60 year old postmenopausal women can be just plain silly like that sometimes.
You see, I watched this spider spend many, many hours building and rebuilding her web every day. I watched her catch and inject venom into her prey, watched her wrap that prey in silk, and later, ingest that prey. I watched her cut the shells of the remains of bugs she ingested out of her web and then watched her tediously repair her damaged web. I watched her spend hour upon hour making her eggs sacs which absolutely fascinated this nature loving girl. I watched her fiercely defend those egg sacs. I loved waking up and seeing what Autumn had in store for me that day. I somehow wished I had spent my own life working every bit as hard as that spider did every. single. day.
R.I.P. my Autumn girl. You taught this 60 year old woman many lessons about hard work, perseverance and the circle of life. Lessons, that unfortunately, aren’t always easy to learn or learned in a timely manner.
Tomorrow, as silly as it may seem to some, I will bury you under the red maple tree closest to your egg sacs. I think you deserve that much.
This fall, I have enjoyed watching our resident garden spider (I call her Autumn), who decided to make her web right outside our kitchen window. About a month ago, Autumn, who was nice and plump, made an egg sac. You can read about it here. She slimmed down considerably after making that egg sac.
I’ve noticed for the past week that Autumn has quit re-spinning her web every morning. Her web is no small creation. In fact, it’s quite large – about two feet across. She starts it before the sun is up and finishes it just as it’s becoming light. I stood at the kitchen window early one morning and watched her finish it. It amazed me how her little body could just keep making more and more silk. I was mesmerized and I couldn’t quit watching.
It’s been cooler here at night (anywhere from the 40s to the 60s). One night it got down to 36. I don’t think we’ve had a frost yet and I know garden spiders often succumb to the first frost. I notice Autumn’s activity decreases significantly when the temperature drops. Her web is looking very shabby now and I haven’t witnessed her catching any prey or eating in the past two weeks. I doubt her dilapidated little web could even catch any prey now. But I noticed a few days ago that she had become nice and plump and round again.
Last night when I was letting the kitties out on the deck, I had the outside lights on which shine on Autumn’s web (which is between the kitchen window and the screen of the deck) and I noticed that I didn’t see her silhouette in the center of the web on the stabilimentum (the silky zigzag pattern they make) where she just about always sits. My heart sank a little. I’ve known her time is about up and I feared Autumn had passed on to that great web in the sky. My eyes glanced up to the egg sac, and there she was! She was depositing more silk around the sac. I thought to myself that she must know her time is drawing near and she was just reinforcing the sac to afford it a little more protection for when she’s gone.
I’ve read that garden spider egg sacs are heavily parasitized by wasps and flies. A blogger friend commented on my last post that mud daubers are big enemies to the egg sacs and that she often finds baby garden spiders inside the mud dauber nests as she’s washing them away. I thought about how very hard these spiders work in making the sac and what an incredible amount of energy it takes. It made me sad to think that all of this spider’s hard work might be in vain. But then I guess it’s helping the mud daubers. I keep reminding myself that it’s all about the circle of life.
Two hours went by and I checked on Autumn again and she was still busy working and depositing more silk but this time I noticed a bleb and it dawned on me that she was making a new egg sac! Where is her energy coming from, I wondered? Another hour went by and I checked on her one last time before going to bed and she was still busy at work. It was midnight at that point.
This morning, hubby told me to go check on Autumn, that there was a second egg sac.
I can’t imagine how exhausted that spider is. Making that egg sac took many, many hours and I’m sure she worked until the sun came up. Today I watched a time lapsed video of a garden spider making an egg sac. I had no idea it involved so much work by the spider. It’s really amazing when you stop to think about it.
Watching this spider has absolutely fascinated me. I will miss her when she’s gone.