Sunday, October 2, 2011

Life and Death: A Photo-Montage

Dear George,

Katja called me at the office to say that a large spider was building a wonderful web on our patio. I got home just as it was finishing its work -- it was a nice-looking insect and a remarkable web. After it finished its last strand, the spider curled up into a ball and pretended to be a corpse, presumably to avoid scaring other na├»ve insects. Unfortunately we had a huge rainstorm that night, and there was no sign of the web in the morning. When the sun came out, however, the spider was back at work and soon had an entirely new creation in place. Then it rained again and wiped out the second web. Nonetheless, the spider soon replaced it. I haven’t yet seen an insect fly into it though. Here’s our spider in action:

Things I learned from the spider’s travails were:

(a) Life is a never-ending struggle.

(b) You can put in a lot of work and not get much out of it.

(c) When awful things happen, it’s best to pick yourself up and do it over again.

Last week I went to the flea market in Brookville, Indiana, and this led to more contemplation about life and death. The flea market is part of a big complex that includes a livestock auction warehouse. A number of the pens were filled with hogs and cows. Here are some of the hogs, who look to be in their prime. They don’t know it, but they will soon be auctioned off and sent to the slaughterhouse.

Here is what I got out of it:

(a) You might think they are giving you a lot of good stuff for free, but beware -- they’re just fattening you up for the kill.

(b) Don’t waste too much time lying around because you never know what’s right around the corner.

(c) If everybody around you looks like they’re going to be turned into pork chops, you are undoubtedly a candidate yourself.

Back home, in the meantime, I was walking the dogs in the front yard when I noticed a big cluster of mushrooms that had suddenly sprouted up in our garden. I’m sure it hadn’t been there the day before, and it looked like it had come from a faraway galaxy. I took a photo of it, then another the following day, and a couple later in the week. Here is the progress of the giant mushroom:

Tuesday, September 20

Wednesday, September 21

Saturday, September 25

Sunday, September 26

Mushrooms probably don’t have feelings about it, but their life story is quite compelling. I can’t believe how quickly they appeared from nowhere, then collapsed into oblivion. Their fate entails some important lessons:

(a) Life is short; make every day count.

(b) You’re at your best in your youth, but you acquire character as you age.

(c) If you’re a mushroom, you don’t have to worry about dying. You’ll be replaced in the same spot next year anyway.

So life is just sort of rolling merrily along here. But there’s a lot to think about.



G-mail Comments

-Phyllis S-S (10-3): Dave, Neat stories - loved the photos of the spider. pss

-Vicki L (10-2): Hi David, I'm so comforted by your philosophical attitude toward nature. I've been fretting about an enormous spider which is draping itself across my front window. The other day, I was walking around the corner of my house with my gardener and ran face first into another of these beasts. I screamed and fell into Freddie's arms - he laughed and swiftly killed the large creature. ..

Two years ago I ended up in the ER having breathing problems - the doctor thought I had a bacterial infection complicated by the bite of a 'brown recluse' spider (can be deadly). The brown recluse has a violin emblem on its thorax. As much as I study this spider which - like yours - continues to rebuild its web across my window - I can't quite tell if it has a 'violin' on its thorax or not. To me, it appears to have a white Christian cross - this could be even scarier. A Tea Party or Ku Klux Klan spider… This morning, participating in my rowing club event, I learned that psilocyban (sp?) mushrooms can increase one's levels of oxytocin (a female hormone secreted during pregnancy/ nursing which enhances one's ability to multi-task). Just keep tracking those mushrooms. Love, Sis

-Jennifer M (10-2): :-)

-Donna D (10-2): david, i just loved this. is your spider still around?

-DCL to Donna (10-2): Thanks, Donna. The spider lost its last web and hasn't returned yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it come back soon. Maybe we'll see it tomorrow.

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