My Three Palms

My3Palms

It’s the second morning, the second sunrise, of our third day–at our winter home.  I just got out of bed, it’s 8:56 am and the thermometer on the wall over my head reads 85.6 F.  Mmmmmm.  Should I read something into this?

The sun set yesterday on our first full day at the Siesta Bay Resort in Fort Myers.  My tan line is getting defined, my sweat glands are getting an exercise in functionality and I’m feeling my age.

After arriving on Sunday afternoon and were led to our site (I actually backed the Rpod in myself, thank you) we began the ritual of unhitching, balancing, adjusting the supports (that’s RV talk for those of you who fly to a resort), hooking up the water line and plugging into the 30 amp box, we were overheated and as sweaty as those pro basketball players you see on ESPN.  Two hours later, as we sought out a Barnes & Noble, a Starbucks and an RV Camper Store to make a few necessary purchases, we were even more sweaty and hot.  We both took a quick shower and I tuned into the World Series on my TuneIn app.  The game was great (and interesting to listen to rather than watch), until the late innings.  My heart didn’t bleed real blood, I’m a Yankee fan, but I felt sorry for the Mets fans out in the boroughs, in places like Queens and Kips Bay.

But, first we had to get the interior cooled off just a little.  I would have settled for about fifteen degrees cooler and 35% less humidity, but you work with what you have.  What we had was a small fan.  Actually, it’s a really small fan.  It’s about the size of a compact box of Kleenex tissues.  If you put a candle three inches in front of said fan, the flame might wiggle a little–maybe not.

We had to bring out the “big guns”.  It was time to turn on our AC.  The last time we used it was in October, 2013 when we were in Death Valley.  It does a fine job in cooling off the limited living space in our RV.  In reality, this AC unit could easily chill the interior of a Greyhound bus.  Soon, I could see my breath.  An hour later, my core body temperature was down enough to consider turning the thing off.  We did and were stunned at how we had been shouting at each other over the noise from the fan.  There is no Low/Medium/High setting.  It was ON or OFF.  The neighbors probably thought the Yanks were having a tiff.  It would have been a logical guess–scenic traveling can be stressful.

I looked up at my indoor/outdoor thermometer (digital) that I mounted with velcro to the wall above my head. It was late at night–the temperature was supposed to go down after the sun set. But, I noticed the indoor temperature was 1.6 degrees warmer than the outdoor temperature. It must need new batteries.

Then the real heartbreak. I had been staring at a blank wall when I would lay down to read or play Scrabble. It’s an empty space above the window where my feet are during the night. I had plans to make that wall my (our) Postcard Wall Of Memories. I was going to put up a typical postcard from all the interesting places we visiting on this road trip. It would be a visual reminder of favorite places, fond memories. My first card was a sepia toned photo of the Chrysler Building at night. It’s a famous photograph. I put a long strip of double-sided tape on the back. I found it two days out of New York City–sitting at the foot of the bed. It fell off. The second card what called “Rainbow Row”. It was a beautiful color picture of the amazing houses in Charleston, SC.  It stayed on the wall.

PostcardsInRpod

We were both up early so we could enjoy the cool morning air.  After that twenty-five minutes was over, Mariam had to find a shady place to use her laptop (she works three days a week and all her business can be done with emails and phone calls).  She had a nice shady spot in front of the camper.  The mid-morning sun was getting serious so I had to seek out some shade so I could write in my journal and read a few chapters of a very thick book.

I found a place of shade provided by the middle tree of trio of palms in “our” yard.  Or, someone’s yard.  I put my chair in place and settled in.  Then, seven minutes later, I had to shift my chair.  The sun moves across the sky just like at home–in the North Country.

Later, in the afternoon, Mariam had moved her “office” to the breezeway, which is a common room open to the breezes.  So, if the air ever did move, there would be a breeze.   I came prepared to use the pool.  I went into the gate and was confronted by about twenty elderly people taking half the pool to play volleyball.  I looked around and counted the number of people in the water, those playing the game those just treading away in the deep end.  There were twenty-seven.  I made a fair estimate of their average ages and decided that 71 was an appropriate assumption.  Not counting me (I was about to be the twenty-eight), the aggregate age of the pool population was 1,917 years.  Calendar-wise, that goes back to the beginnings of the major religions. That made me take a step back.  I prayed that I would skew that number by a few months.  This pool needed it.

Pool Volleyball

After a few laps, I retired to my lounging chair to watch my sand dry in the sun.  Don’t ask.  It’s a long story and another blog.  If you must know why I have a zip-lock bag of damp sand, send me a message or email and I will tell you the whole truth).

Back at our site, which is #143, in case you were starting your holiday shopping early, I noticed a tree about thirty feet from the front of the R-pod.  It’s too perfect.  I have strong suspicions that it’s a cell phone tower like the kind they use when local populations force Verizon to make things look “natural”.  I think this helps to explain the constant vertigo I’ve been feeling since we left Rainbow Lake.  Maybe I should do a Google search for a local Pilates Class for Seniors.

So, what have I learned in my first day and a half at the place where we will celebrate New Years Eve ’15?

I was quick to notice how ubiquitous the golf cart is to the folks who stay here year after year.  They are everywhere.  And, I think that is very understandable and hip in a way.  They are quiet, non-polluting, and can get you to the pool in just a few minutes.

GolfCart

Then there was the warning we were given about the picturesque pond just beyond the tennis courts.  The woman who checked us in said that we can’t swim there.

I asked why.

She said something about alligators, two of them, who live in the pond.  At least that’s what I think she said.

We’ve been in Florida now for four days.  I’m pretty sure I heard correctly.  After all, the northern end of the Everglades are a mere one hour drive away.

While I’m here, I fully intend to obey all signs say: No Swimming.

NoSwimSign

 

 

 

The crickets are chirping in the foliage and the cars speed by on the highway to and from Sanibel Island.

Evening Reflections On The Fountain Of Youth

800px-Ponce_de_León

[Ponce de Leon seeks the Fountain]

Tomorrow, October 31st , I’m going to post my Halloween blog.  I’ve been saying it’s going to be scary.  I hope it is.  It is a description, mostly fiction, of my fear of graveyards and the hours after midnight when dreams go dark as ink and visions are bleak and fearful.

It’s a verbal collage of nightmares I’ve had and ones I hope I will never experience.  I hope you will see it as my Halloween treat to you, my faithful readers.  My sensible readers, who know when its the proper time to go to bed and mumble a prayer.

“Now I lay me down to sleep…”

However, after missing out on a day in St. Augustine, I began to reflect on the idea of the Fountain of Youth.  I did a web search and found some interesting but very confusing facts.  When you’re dealing with a myth, reality and legend get mixed into a ‘stew’ that tastes good, but is hard to separate into individual factoids.  Tales of sacred waters that can heal and give you back past glories are cross-cultural and date back thousands of years.

In a memoir by Hernando d’Escalante Fontaneda, he writes about Ponce de Leon and his search for the legendary waters of restoration in Florida.  There is even a Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine.  It was excavated by the Smithsonian Institute several decades ago.  They found very old burial sites and evidence that pretty much confirms the fact that St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited city (by Europeans) in North America.

But, I’m more interested in mythology than science when it comes to topics as ancient and humanistic as this.  It’s the Romantic soul of an Irishman, I believe.

Lucas_Cranach_(I)_-_Jungbrunnen_-_Gemäldegalerie_Berlin

[The Fountain of Regeneration.  Lucas Cranach, artist]

Searching for the Fountain of Youth is a motif that is as timeless as the Greek Myths, the Celtic Legends and the Quest for the Holy Grail.  It’s the Heroes Journey.  ALL good and proper literature contains the elements of a search for something–an object, an idea or a God.  J. K. Rowling understood this very well.  Harry Potter is the embodiment of everyone who wishes to attain a truth by overcoming obstacles.

Me?  I doubt anyone could have convinced me to don heavy armor and plunge into a rainforest–only to die of thirst, heat stroke or some insidious disease that comes with a bite of an insect so small, you don’t even see it on your wrist.  Perhaps it will come as a bite from a magnificently colored reptile whose quick bite will render you paralyzed and raving mad before it stops your heartbeat for eternity.  It may even come from a snake as thick as the leg of an obese man and longer than a city bus, that will slowly coil around you and slowly constrict itself until you can not even suck a cubic centimeter of Oxygen into your lungs.  They say its a slow and extraordinary death.

I don’t need these kinds of bodily abuses to seek out the Fountain of Youth.  I have sought it out by keeping my eyes open–and I have found it!  Does that come as a surprise?  Does it impress you to know that I can find that Fountain nearly every day.  And, I can take you there as well.

The Foundation of Youth, the Well of Regeneration, the Source of Life is just around the corner from your house.  I find it every time I see a young couple walking hand in hand.  In their eyes, you can observe both love and desire.  In their youth, you can sense their vitality.  The water of the Fountain is a tear, a drop of sweat from passion, a raindrop on a seed, the alluring gaze of a young woman or the glint of male lust in a male eye.

They are the Fountain of Youth, because from their shared love, a new life will emerge.

Stand for moment at a playground.  Look at the children.  They have no idea where they came from, yet.  They have no concept of the part they are playing in the continuation of life.

That’s the real Fountain of Youth.

SpringByPierreAugusteCot

[Spring by Pierre Auguste Cot]

 

I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine

St.AugustinePostcard

It was going to be a great day. I even had a ready-made title for this blog.  I was going to life a song title by the one and only, Bob Dylan. We only had about 120 miles to drive from Brunswick to St. Augustine, FL.  That’s not even enough to break a sweat–that would come later.

The Interstate traffic was moderate and the wind was at our backs.  If we were on a sailboat named Silver Heels, I would put a rope on the wheel and sit back with a mug of iced coffee.  But doing that is next to impossible in a Ford Escape–not to mention the safety and legal issues.

Yes, the day was going to be one of those casual drives followed by a visit to “the oldest city in the U.S”.  This was the land of the Fountain of Youth.  This was the city with an old church and a pirate museum.  This was the city with a trolley tour where you can get on and off at your whim.  This was the city that probably had 5-star ice cream cones.

What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, Murphy’s Law states without qualification that: “If something can go wrong, it will”.  And it did.

Bogart famously (and prophetically) said that: “It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world”.  That’s as true as it gets.  Unless, it’s just two people with a backed-up toilet in an RV park just outside of St. Augustine.  Late on a Thursday afternoon.

The unthinkable worst case scenario had risen up from a small molded plastic bowl and sucker-punched us in the lower abdomen.  I will spare you all the details.  I will certainly spare you any photographs.  But, (no pun intended) we tried all the approaches we could think of.  We had the KOA guy come with a snake, a bucket and an extension of the black pipe that is used for draining the grey and black tank.

Matters only slightly improved–and then deteriorated back to square one.  The KOA pamphlet had an ad for Tom, who would come out to fix RV’s.  Mariam made the call.

“I’m retired,” he said.

“Can you un-retire for just this once and help us out?” Mariam pleaded.

“Sorry.”

Three phone calls later, we found a an RV repair company that were willing to make the trip and try to make things straight.  In short, he came, he snaked–he fixed it all.  We were flushed with joy.

But, it was 6:35 pm by the time he drove away.  There would be no sightseeing to what has been described as a “most beautiful city.”

I took a shower and rinsed the sweat and soil from my very aching body.  I went into the office and bought five post cards for $1.00 (+ tax).

Earlier in the day, at the Florida Welcome Center on I-95, I picked up a free litter bag, a state map, and a little pin for my lapel.  The pin is shaped like the state.  Mariam, after glancing at it, thought it was an alligator.

FloridaPin

“No,” I said.  “It’s a little model of the state where we shall spend the next two months.”

There you have it.  I’m left with a post card and a dream.  In my vision, I walked the streets of the old city.  In my dream, I found the Fountain of Youth.

Back at the Welcome Center, I was sending a text to my son.  I saw an elderly couple walk back to their car.  They might be looking for that Fountain too.

“Is that Mariam and me?” I wondered

I answered myself.  “Probably someday, Pat, just find a more muted pattern for your Hawaiian shirt.”

OldFolks

[This little post is dedicated to Ratso Rizzo.  As portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy, his poor broken and sickly body never made to the Welcome Center.]

Forever I’ve Dreamt Of Sailing Away

BurlingtonSailBoat

One day, several decades ago, I sat down with a book by Captain Joshua Slocum.  It was titled “Sailing Alone Around the World”.  Capt. Slocum published the book in 1900–it was a bestseller–and it made him a Superstar of the Seas.  His boat was named Spray.  Nearly ten years later, Slocum disappeared aboard the Spray.  He was never seen in this world again.   I feel assured as I can that Joshua Slocum is sailing his way through the dark reaches of space and time, aboard his little boat, the Spray.

I finished the book in just a day or two and since then I’ve been fascinated by the sea and solo sailing.  Later I read an account of a man who was attempting a solo crossing of the Atlantic.  This was back in the days when such trips carried risks that made each voyage an item in the headlines of the world’s newspapers.  When I got to the end of his story and thus the end of his trip, the last pages described something he did that transfixed me with amazement.

He had departed from some former whaling port in New England, Gloucester maybe.  I can’t even remember the name of his boat.  But, I seem to remember that after he made a final navigational fix on his position–about a day from the west coast of Ireland, he did something that I totally understood.  While his wife and the press corps were waiting for him in Cork or Galway or wherever he was to dock–he took a long hard look around his world, the world that had been his home for several weeks.  He saw water, he saw the sky and he saw his boat.  And, he saw himself as a tiny speck in this vastness of the North Atlantic.

I would imagine he began to weep.

Yes, he loved and missed his wife.  Yes, he would garnish a ton of publicity from his trip.  But…

I truly believe he wept because he had become such a part of the elements of the sky and water that he couldn’t bear to lose it.  He supposedly took his sail down, and delayed his arrival by one day.  One more day when his whole world–his whole existence–could still be his alone.

As I write this, I cannot remember his name, any book he may have written or any record he may have set.  I sometimes wonder if I had made the whole story up in my own dreams.  I can’t provide any evidence this really actually happened.

I hope it did.

I’ve aways wanted to make a solo crossing of the Atlantic.  Several problems stood in my way, however.  The first and most important issue was the fact that I simply have no idea how to sail–anything.  I put a sheet up on a canoe on the Susquehanna River once when I was a kid, but that was all the sailing I had ever done.   So, I went out and bought a book on how to sail.  I never finished it because I had no real access to a really large body of water not to mention a sailboat.

I lived in New York City where one can take lessons down at a sailing school near Battery Park.  I never did.  Now, I live about forty-five minutes from Lake Champlain.  There are sailing schools in Burlington and probably Plattsburgh.  I always find something else to do.

Maybe I’m afraid of facing those elements that seem to draw so many men and women to the sea.  In truth, I don’t even like to swim.  The water is always too cold in the Adirondack lakes.  I can’t imagine the chill of the Labrador Current.

But, I’m a very restless soul.  Perhaps I have a bit of Romany (Gypsy) blood in my veins?  Perhaps, from my bedroom near the railroad in Owego, New York, I heard too many train whistles blowing and heard too many clickety-clacks of the steel wheels on the rail joints when I was a child.

So, I’ve learned to put my sailing solo dream on that dreaded shelf alongside all the other dreams I have grown to accept will never be fulfilled.  I lost the golden ball that I was born with.  I will never climb the Matterhorn, stand in the hard frozen air of Antarctica, hike the Pacific Crest Trail–or sleep with the Prom Queen.  I’ll not be given the Nobel Prize for Literature.  I will never speak at the 92nd St. Y in Manhattan.

Deep inside, I believe that I can rediscover that golden ball that made my childhood so full of magic.  The little ball exists somewhere–maybe inside me or out there alongside the less-driven roads.  I will drive the highways of Virginia and watch the Kudzu creep up the trees and engulf them.  I will pass plantations in the Deep South, pass over the brown water of the Mississippi River and I will squint into the late afternoon sun in West Texas.  But I know that somewhere, sometime, the Dark Irish in me will rise and I will begin to see shadowy clouds building on the horizon.

I’m channeling my wanderlust right now by pulling a small RV behind our Ford and heading to Florida for two months.  Our sextant is a GPS we call “Moxie”.  Our Gulf Stream will be I-95 (some of the way).  I will not be returning to the cold and ice until the Springtime arrives at Rainbow Lake, New York–sometime in April.

My boat is an r-Pod.  My alone-ness is replaced by my wife, Mariam, whose company is delightful and engaging.

LeavingRainbow

I won’t be talking to the sea or the stars–hearing nothing but wind, waves and my own voice.  Oh, I will park our r-Pod in the desert sometime in February and stare at the countless galaxies–count the shooting stars–and listen to a coyote or a song on the wind sung by the wandering ghost of a long-dead cowboy.  But I won’t be alone.

I once romanticized that kind of isolation and I still seek it, to a point.  But, in truth, there’s something about the vacuum of loneliness that frightens me very much.

I’m afraid of the dark–but that’s for another blog.

A Last Look At The North Country: A Journey For The Right Hemisphere

Colby

This is a good-bye of sorts.  I drove into Saranac Lake this afternoon to pick up a few last-minute goodies, I see that the recent rains have taken so much of the brilliant foliage that, a few days ago, dazzled your eye against the azure sky.

I heard the word “snow” in a recent conversation.  I drive past Lake Colby and I take a picture.  I stop near a lonely cemetery on a hill and take a picture of Whiteface.  A grey-haired gentleman sporting a pony-tail was gazing through his camera that was set up on a tripod.

“A few minutes ago there was a double rainbow,” he said to me as I pulled my iPhone out of my jacket pocket.  “There might be another soon.”

“Wish I had the time to wait,” I said as I snapped my photo and got back into my car.  The Rolling Stones were in my CD player.  The song was: Wild Horses.

“Wild horses couldn’t drag me away…” sang Mick.

I almost felt sorry to be leaving this place.  This contradictory country with its beautiful, bug-less Autumns and it’s breezy quiet afternoons.  And, its thumb-numbing cold in January with typical temperatures of -28 F.  It’s absolute silence when the snow falls.  It’s loneliness when friends have gone home–away from their summer places.

As I write this at 9:40 pm on October 14, we are packing the final items into our R-pod.  The sky is starry–the afternoon showers are gone.  I can see my breath as I stand in the yard, in the dark, in the chill and quiet of our last night in the North Country.  In the morning, our friends from the other end of the loop of our road, Garondah Road, will see us off as we head south–and away from the coming winter.  Darcy and Judy have helped us with so many things this summer.  We didn’t climb the mountains we said we would, but we biked and hiked in new places.  In a few days, they will begin their 13-hour drive back home in Camp Dennison, Ohio.  Yes, they live in one of the fly over states, but they are fine people anyway.

Our first stop is Jersey City RV Park near Liberty State Park.  Mariam will be attending a few meetings as we pass a week in NYC.  Part of the time we will be ensconced in a hotel just a block from Macy’s.  We’ll have dinner with my son, Brian and his girl friend, Kristin.  Then it’s back to the RV park in Jersey to pick up the r-Pod and head for the sunny south.  Our destination? Fort Myers, Florida.  We will be settled there until the end of the year.  Then, having had my fill of sand, sun, golf and shopping malls, we will work our way along the Gulf Coast to points west.

I will be stopping in my college town in Northeast Louisiana–first to show Mariam where I spent my late teens and then to lay flowers at a grave of someone who was and is very important to me.  It’s been over forty years since I last saw my friend–and that’s a long time to wait to put flowers beside his headstone.

Steve, I’ll be by soon.

Where to after that?  Perhaps as far as Palm Springs–maybe even Death Valley.  But I have chosen to use this time to give my right brain a kick-start.  I’m not going on this trip without coming back without improving something in my creative hemisphere.  I’ve decided to leave my banjo behind because that will require practice and I’m ready to accept the fact that I may never have the ability to make music.  But, I will have plenty of sketch pads, charcoal pencils and some watercolors with me.  I have stated my terms to myself.  I will not try to analyze anything–I will observe and draw and write.  And I will read.  I have a library of books that I’ve planned to read for decades.  Can you believe I haven’t read “David Copperfield” yet?  It’s on my shelf.

I also have a strange destination to aim for.  It’s a town in the middle of the Mojave Desert, at the edge of Joshua Tree National Park.  It’s called Zzyzx.

There is a real story waiting for me there.  I hope you will follow my blogs as I make my way to this odd little place.

Yes, it’s a good-bye of sorts–but we’ll be back.  We’ll be back like the muds of Spring and the mosquitoes of June and the sparkling waters of Rainbow Lake.

Up here in the North Country.

Whiteface

 

This Is Not The Scary Halloween Blog You Were Expecting

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You read the title correctly.  I’m very sorry but I just don’t have the energy, creative or otherwise, to put together a high-quality very scary blog that you have come to expect of me.  I just put the spooky image at the head of this post to grab your attention.  I know I posted something at the start of October that promised a series of totally mind-blowing blogs celebrating my favorite time of year.  But, as I’m sure many of you know, I took sick shortly after attending my 50th High School reunion.  I’m still not well and it’s been a month, three ER visits, a chest x-ray, a hefty dosage of antibiotics, a diagnosis (shown later to be a little inaccurate) of pneumonia, and all capped off by an allergic reaction to one of the drugs I was proscribed.  My flesh looks like a scary Halloween story by itself.  I have red spots on parts of my body that I forgot I had.  I’ve been rubbed with aloe vera and other lotions that you would have to travel to a cheap Bangkok brothel to find.

So, instead of something scary, I thought it would be highly entertaining to tell you about our last-minute preparations for our winter “on the road” in our R-pod RV.  Remember the late part of 2013 when Mariam and I drove across the country to visit my grandson, Elias, in Orting, WA?  I even compiled those travel blogs and published them in book form.  It’s called: “In the Middle of Somewhere”–and did I mention it’s available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle.

Anyway, here is a picture of part of the R-pod.  I tried to get some colorful trees in the frame as well to show you that its peak foliage time up here in the North Country.

RPodAutumn

Like I was saying, I am picking out the books I intend to take along.  We’re busy choosing CD’s, books-on-tape and DVD’s.  I also pack all the writing material for future projects (like a few novels, etc).  I even considered bringing along my banjo.  I googled music lessons in Fort Myers and found that I can get private lessons for a reasonable rate.  But, I’m having second thoughts about this.  It will require practice time and I just can’t see myself sitting by the door of the RV and learning chords for the banjo.  People (mostly elderly from what I hear) will think they’re in a scene from “Deliverance”.  I don’t want to frighten old people.

I’m writing this late at night on October 11.  The rain has stopped and it is very dark.  It’s nearly midnight.  I just looked out the front door and noticed a dull light shining at the end of the driveway.  I thought of the moon, but it’s too low to the ground.  Perhaps it’s a reflection of the light in the guest bedroom against the front window of my car.  Maybe someone is out for a late night walk?  Hold on while I check if it’s moved…

Nope.  The dull light is still there.  It’s not our new motion lamp because it would be much brighter.  I wonder…

Well, on second thought, maybe some of you would feel shorted somehow if I didn’t come through with some weird Halloween photos.  I must keep my contract with my readers.  If I say I’m going to do something–I have to do it!

After all, what are the “things that go bump in the night” going to do to me?  Come creeping down my driveway and walk through my dining room wall?  I doubt it.  This isn’t the History Channel.  There are no aliens on my property.  (Although, I have some doubts about our neighbor)–

So, here are a few nutty Halloween customs:

vintage-halloween-Bibendums-Montmartre-1922

vintage-halloween-costumes

Pretty scary stuff, huh?

I’m going to check on that light again–don’t go away.

I hope I’m wrong, but I think it has moved just a little–only a little–toward the house.  Let me look again…

OMG, it’s nearly passed the short row of cedar trees…just at the end of the walkway to the porch.  Who could this be at this hour?  It’s just a few seconds before midnight.  I feel that I have to type fast to finish this…what’s that?  I hear something on the front porch floor…sounds like footsteps.

I hear a voice.  It’s almost a mumble and I hear saliva helping to slur the words…”You think messing with the dark is funny?  Do you think we laugh when you pretend there’s nothing out there?”

The power is going out in the house.  Mariam has locked the bedroom door.  She’s having a nightmare.  If she’s having a nightmare…then what’s on the porch…at my door?

I must finish this quickly….I….can’t……..

Spider Dilemma, My

SpiderWebB:W

I wanted desperately to write a blog about Daddy-Long-Leg spiders.  But, there was a technical problem that I could not solve.  It’s not that there is a shortage of this species here in the North Country.  Indeed, just the opposite is true.  They are everywhere.  But try to get a photo of one…it’s not impossible, just very difficult.  Unless you own a Nikon DSLR with an 900:1 digital zoom lens, you’re out of luck.  The long legs are not really the issue, it’s the rest of the thing that’s problematic.  The Daddy-Long-Legs has a body the size of a match head, you know, those paper matches that they used to give away in bars.  It’s like trying to get a good photo of a fly on the fight deck of the USS Bonhomme Richard.

I found a Daddy-Long-Leg spider on the railing of our deck and took this photo:

Daddy

The gray arrow accurately points out the location of the Daddy-Long-Legs.  See it?

I realized that photo wasn’t going to make much of a blog, really.  I mean, I can hardly see the arrow much less the spider.

That was end of that idea…for awhile, anyway.

This morning I decided to brush off the R-pod in preparation for our trip to Florida in October.  There were nests and webs everywhere.  But after giving the camper a good cleaning, I noticed something near the front, where the hitch and propane tanks are located.  It was a spider web.  But this time, the spider was big enough to photograph.

Rushing back into the house, I try to find my iPhone 5 and snap a few images. I reached for my Nikon DSLR, but remembered that I had taken the chip out because it had other photos I needed for another blog.  I tried finding my CoolPix, but realized we had put in one of our suitcases for our recent trip to Ireland.  My mini-iPad was not that good because you had to fiddle with the touch screen in order to “zoom” in.  I settled on my iPhone 5 and even though I had to spread my fingers on the touch screen, decided that I could get the photo I wanted.  Now, I had something to blog about.

SpiderNext step was to identify the spider.  I can’t post something about a spider and keep calling it “spider”.  I had to find out what kind of spider it is.  I hurry back inside the house and look over my collection of Peterson Field Guides.  I don’t have one on spiders, only insects.  They’re not the same.  They are scientifically classified as being wholly separate.  So, I Google “spider” and find a quick identification key intended for the amateur naturalist.  [Notice I didn’t use the term “naturist”–those are the people who run around naked.]

I set to work trying to find out the species.  This was not easy because the spider in question hangs upside-down near the center of its web.  Not only that, but its underside was facing me and it’s identifying marks were on its back.  I pondered this for a few minutes before arriving at a solution.  I needed a mirror to see the top of the spider.  So, I rushed back inside the house and found my wife’s make-up mirror.  I ran back outside and carefully slid the reflecting surface (mirror) under and beneath the web.  I ran back into the house to replace the mirror.  It was too dark to get a good view, but I narrowed it down to three possibilities;

  • The Orb Weaver (Araneus spp)
  • The Cross Spider (Araneus diadematus)
  • The Shamrock Spider (Araneus trifolium)

It should go without saying that we’re talking about the genus Arachnids.  We all know that.  I also know that fully 75% of the human population are intimidated by spiders (only a fraction have full-blown Arachnophobia).  I’m in that 75% population cluster.  If you want to understand my relationship with spiders in more detail, order the 1958 version of The Fly on Netflix.

But all this left me with another and more complex dilemma.  I don’t especially like spiders, but I am aware that they eat mosquitoes, which I like even less.  So, do I whisk away the aforementioned spider so I won’t feel threatened each time I hitch the trailer to the car?  Or, do I let the mosquito-munching spider live?  That leads to another problem.  Do I transport this Arachnid to Florida?  What if it’s considered an alien species down there?  What if I am Person Zero who starts an Ecological Problem, a situation second only to the Rapture?

Life is not easy up here in the North Country.

BiggerSpider

[This is as close as I get.]