"When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty." (John Muir, Travels in Alaska)
Nothing beats the smell of bread baking in the oven, especially on the first night with a forecast for ice and snow.
My Bread Recipe
Combine 2 c. bread flour, 2 c. hot water, 2 T. sugar (brown sugar, honey), 2 T. oil, 2 t. salt, and 3 packets of Fleischmann's Rapid Rise yeast. Stir it up and let it sit 8-10 minutes to let the yeast wake up.
Add another 3 c. bread flour, adding a cup at a time, stirring and kneading until all of the flour is worked in. Knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is elastic. Let the dough rise in a warm location for an hour.
Beat the hell out of the dough. Slap it down, punch it, beat it up. Then, shape the dough into one or more loaves and place them on a glass 9x13'' pan sprinkled with lots of cornmeal. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.
A beautiful spider has taken up residence on our deck.
I usually don't refer to spiders as "beautiful." I like reptiles (quite a lot, actually); amphibians are pretty cool; I tolerate class Insecta. To tell you the truth, members of class Arachnid kinda freak me out.
I don't mind little spiders, and I don't mind Daddy Longlegs (Pholcus phalangioides, or the cellar spider), but a spider the size of Daddy Longlegs with a large, juicy body and thick, strong legs to rival Cindy Crawford's? Yikes.
Yet the natural world is neutral. Existing in the natural world means existing with sunshine and storms, rainbows and rot, songbirds and spiders.
To that end, I haven't evicted Micheal. Oh, yeah--although I avoid anthropomorphizing animals, my mother suggested that I name the beautiful spider Micheal. So, she's called Micheal. And she's moved from her small web to a larger web, nearly two feet across, with the symmetry of a modernist sculpture.
I think that Michael is either an oak leaf spider (Aculepeira ceropegia) or a European garden spider (Araneus diadematus), both of which are orb weavers. Leg tip to leg tip, she's about 1.5 to 1.75 inches.
I like paying attention to the little dramas of the natural world. It puts my own mental storyline (i.e. what I tell myself about my personal experience) into perspective. It reminds me that my perception of my world is only my perception, and that everyone/ everything from the Dalai Lama to Michael has their own story.
I took a walk in Danby State Forest this past weekend. Thatcher's Pinnacles, with its wonderful view of inlet valley, has always been one of my favorite places here.
The autumn colors were at peak. This hickory looked like it was dressing up as the sun for Halloween.
The weather is getting colder, and the summer vegetables have long since withered and gone brown. We pulled the carrots out last weekend, and yesterday I cleaned up the remains of the snap peas, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
Time to pick apples, make applesauce and hard apple cider (and apple jack!)... dinners of acorn squash and wild rice... drinking cinnamon tea and enjoying the feeling of being tucked into a heavy wool sweater... what an awesome harvest season!
I ran into this little garter snake while I was out walking on the Black Diamond Trail last weekend. Literally--I wasn't quite paying attention to my surroundings, and I nearly stepped on her!
I couldn't believe how aggressive she was. I bent over to look at her, and she struck my finger! I was plenty startled and yelped loudly enough to make a lazy deer look up from his munching. Fortunately, she just banged her snout against my hand and didn't actually bite. She lunged again as I was trying to take a second picture.
The photos were taken with my unremarkable cell phone camera (yeah, I know... cell phone in the woods). I really should start carrying my camera with me everywhere, like I used to... or... not: better to pay attention to brave little garter snakes than nearly to step on them.