The nature of Nature

Having now lived two full years of an agrarian Texas country life, I’ve come to appreciate Nature’s hand in it.

It is just as random and capricious out here as it is in the midst of cheek-to-jowl big city humanity.

The difference is that in farm country our animal kingdom friends are close-by, clearly seen, and there are more of them. And oh yes, there is also time for study.

In no particular order or level of importance I present three observations made during the past weeks tumultuous weather.

***** In one of the fierce rain, wind and lightning storms, I spied a solitary flesh-colored dime-sized spider. It was outside hanging from one lonely thread secured at the top of the patio doors. Gusts of rainwater kept sheening down the glass pushing the little guy lower on his tether.

Another inducement to stay alive – if he needed one – was the record six inches of rushing water on the ground below. If he completely lost his “footing” it would have been his demise: swept away like a leaf in a torrential stream.

Undaunted he never once gave up trying to advance higher and higher to tuck himself safely under a half-inch overhang.

The last I saw him he was stubbornly and admirably still at it.

Of all my animal neighbors I’ve come to respect spiders the most. They ask for nothing except to be left alone to snag and eat flying insects; their overall diminutive size and corresponding miniscule brain leave me in awe that they have survived for eons.

***** There is a five gallon plastic bucket that was filled with rain water. I use it to hand-water the veggies growing in the raised bed. During a respite in a storm a skinny, iridescent bug about one-half inch long was skimming along the surface. Thinking perhaps it was in danger of drowning I presented it with a stick as a lifeline. However, as soon as I lifted him from the water he hopped back into the pool.

Later that day, in the same bucket, I saw an insect just like him drowned and laying at the bottom of the pail. I also noted a twin lying motionless on the surface, but with a junior-sized lady bug piggy-backing on the corpse. She wisely accepted my lift out and after drying herself in the sun for a few seconds flitted away.

Why the bug rejected my offer needs an explanation. Got one?

UPDATE: Late this afternoon the first orange [sun bleached to yellow] bucket scene replicated itself, to a point. On this occasion the bug accepted my rescue and – like the lady bug – quickly dried off in the sun and moved to greener pastures.

***** As the sun set Ernie and I were in the black-mudded outback. He was directed by his nose to circle randomly here and there in hope of snagging another wabbit. About twenty feet away from him I noted something dart from a tuft of grass. It was a white puff of cotton dashing in a semi-circle, scrambling away and through the wire fence to the safety of the neighbor’s property.

Ernie, still sniffing feverishly, never saw a thing; on this occasion rabbit one, Ernie zip.

A partial explanation for the rabbit getting away is that the grass is currently slightly higher than Ernie is tall: unless he stands on hind legs – which I have seen him do – he can’t see over it, so he relies on his nose, not his eyesight. He does the same at night. A related question is when do rabbits learn fear and to run safely away? It is not instinctual, as has been proven with another event resulting in a score of Ernie one, rabbit nada.

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