October 4, 2010


I know you're all sick of me gushing about Lake Michigan, so I'll make sure this one is really short!!!

This was last night's incredible sunset...as always: facing to the East...

I was standing in a gale of freezing wind when I took this, but I'm glad you all can enjoy the view uncorrupted by such in-your-face midwestern reality.

On Friday morning, I had taken a mid-morning walk around the neighborhood just to get some sun on my face and noticed this incredible arachnid development spun around a large and somewhat ancient-looking light post. I have been meaning to write about the numbers of spiders that exist here, but was waiting until I could get a spectacular pictoral illustration of my observations. So now you might be able to believe me when I tell you there are spiders everywhere! Though fortunately (up to this point) I haven't had any inside my apartment.

In Utah, you encounter spiders here and there if you happen to run into a juniper bush and its resident throng of wolf spiders or reach into a long-neglected cinder block and come face to face with a giant black widow. There are translucent yellow things that climb the walls and spunky little jumpers with iridescent jaws hiding in the grass, and I hear that in places you might get a tarantula in the basement. My least favorite Utah spider has a shiny red body and a gray backside reminiscent of a pussy willow. When I still lived with my parents in a tiny bedroom in the garage I'd get these on my clothes and creeping along the corner between the carpet and the wall all the time. If you look closely, they have enormous black fangs and are easily provoked. Issshhhh! I get the shivers just thinking about them!

Evanston however is crawling with industrious eight-legged critters that build giant intricate webs in profusion decorating everything that will allow for it. If you look up into any outdoor building corner you will see at least one but sometimes a cluster of three or four swollen orange-brown bodies arrayed around an impressive mass of silk. I've seen large circular webs built in between the handlebars of bikes that have been left alone for only one night, and the couple of times I indulged a whim to run my hand over the feathery surfaces of decorative weeds that line the pathway up to the music building, I came out with a hand crawling with teensy creepy crawlers. So far I haven't had any really unpleasant encounters, so I've mostly just enjoyed observing the spider's handiwork.

During one of my visits with Rob in Pasadena, we caught a spider in the act of spinning its giant circular trap near one of the entrances to the Cal Tech campus. It was fascinating to watch the builder's purposeful acrobatics and I wish we'd stuck around to see him (or her) finish the job. I think at the time we imagined it was going to take all night, but when we stopped by again on the way back to our hotel, the masterpiece had been completed.

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