Hidden in the Tall Grass

by | Sep 1, 2013 | Outdoors

It’s a weedy field full of the normal browns, blondes and greens of late- summer. Black-eyed susans and tickseed offer splashes of yellow throughout. The sun is cresting over cottonwoods and willows as the first rays illuminate what look like tiny puffs of white smoke across the field. The puffs shimmer in an unseasonably cool summer breeze.
I’m puzzled at first. Even after looking over countless fields at sunrise in my four decades on Earth, I’m not sure about what I’m seeing. A second later it hits me. They’re webs! I’ve found a spider metropolis.
Each web is highlighted with droplets from last night’s dew. Intricate designs by one of nature’s master artisans, and I barely notice them most of the time. They get attention only when they scream for it, like when one wraps around my face as I traipse through the woods, or in this case, as the focal point for fusion of water and light.
The field is peppered with webs. So many that even a cursory count of those nearby, those that are close enough to see each strand, proves futile. You can shine a flashlight across your backyard on a warm night and watch the hundreds of little eyes shining back at you to get the same effect. It’s a glimpse into another world. It reminds me of the children’s book series, The Spiderwick Chronicles, when Simon and Jared first discover some fantastic creatures, carefully cryptic creatures, that are only noticed when looked for. We do the same thing here in the real world.
Spiders don’t bother me. The thought of all those little arachnids out there, just out of sight as I walk through the fields and forests might creep some folks out, but not me. No, the idea that the population of spiders in this weedy field dwarfs the population of people in the rural county of my birth humbles me. What else could it do? Here is a little world, full of Lilliputian dramas and ancient secrets that I could never know and my only concern with this world has been avoiding webs on my way to a deer stand. That’s pretty arrogant.

It’s not that the spiders possess some profound truth or anything like that – though they very well might — it’s just a reflection of my awareness. Or rather, my lack thereof. As the years of my life layer upon one another, I notice the gaping holes in my awareness more and more. But taking note of them is a good thing. The holes, like the spiders, are too numerous to count and have always been there. The only way to close them is to first become aware of them.
This word, awareness, seems so trite. It means to perceive, to feel, to be conscious of what’s going on around us. We walk through life aware of the humdrum monotony of our daily lives. We pay the bills and answer the emails and we fill the tank when a dashboard light tells us to. We count down the time – time that’s neatly cut and packaged for our convenience – until the next appointment or planned event. Meanwhile, the life and beauty surrounding us in abundance goes on largely beyond our scope of perception. Innumerable sparks of wonder hidden in the tall grass and mist of our everyday lives.
A rising sun is quickly burning through the light fog as I gaze on the field. I’m thankful I was here to see it, this little world hidden in plain sight. Dewy silk weaves a web in the gap of my awareness. The landscape is changing, and soon the morning mist will be nothing more than vapor on the breeze of a late summer day.

Monthly Archive

Article Categories