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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

After the Rain

             After a dry spell, cool rain fell. It splashed onto dusty soil, which had forgotten how to absorb such abundant moisture. The droplets collected on the surface, creating rivers until it found grass to channel it into the earth. Slowly the dust became mud again.
            Dry and wilted plants, already given in to winter’s calling, perked up once more. Flora and fauna rejoiced with the rain, perhaps for the last time this season, before the nightly frosts will kill off all annual life. Even the morning glories were blooming; even while the leaves were falling in the background.
            The world seemed particularly alive today. While making breakfast, I almost stepped on a millipede. I stopped to watch how it moved. From the side the millipede’s legs move like a well organized crowd-wave at the baseball game. Its body floated evenly as its tiny legs swam. I coaxed it onto a paper bag. There it stopped and curled its head downward, its face pressed onto the paper while I took it outside. It didn’t move when I set it on the ground, but as soon as I ran in to get the camera, it hurried away.
Once outside, I saw two spiders, both of which I had only seen one other time. The first was furry and grey with huge fuzzy tusks. It scurried and jumped backwards instead of forward. The second had a yellow triangular thorax with two horns protruding off of its rear end. This spider spun is circles and flip upside down on leaves when threatened. I watched these spiders thoughtfully, wondering why I hadn't seen them all summer.
While walking with my son in his stroller, a butter-colored butterfly joined us, fluttering nearby, leading the way. My dog chased off a deer, a few rabbits, and other animals of which I never caught a glimpse. In the woods, I saw a giant white mushroom. I knelt beside it and moved a rock to take its picture. Under the rock a salamander glanced at me fearfully before disappearing into a wet tunnel. 
So much life, bustled about today. Life that had been hiding from the intense drought the day before and will hide away for the winter in a short time. This was a special window just before winter and just after the rain.

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