Calling All Spider Afficionados

For many years I feared spiders but once I became a gardener I became quite fond of them – provided they do not get toooo close.

My garden is filled with a really interesting spider and I ‘d like to get your help to identify it. Here is one away from its plants.

Looking online once, I found a Green Lynx spider that sounded similar to this fellow but I am just not sure.

Is this a Green Lynx spider?

Is this a Green Lynx spider?

You can’t see it in this picture but it has what looks like a large, powerful jaw. I would have to get really close to take that picture. I won’t be taking that picture.

In late summer, these spiders spend al their time next to egg sacs (I probably have the terminology wrong) that look like fuzzy white balls, about 1/2 inch (1 cm) diameter. When the fall winds arrive, the sacs blow apart and tiny spiders are blown all over the neighborhood.

This is where somebody tells me that these are deadly poisonous and it is a miracle that anyone in the neighborhood still survives, right?

Cuteness in Seal Form

Here is a baby harbor seal, once injured and nursed back to health by a Santa Barbara, California, rescue group. When able to fend for himself, he will be returned to the nearby ocean. And not a minute too soon – he is mighty bored!

Humans are as disturbing as they are inspring.  In the aggregate we do so much harm to so many critters but there are always a few to step in and reverse any bad trend.

Albert Camus, Your Listing Agent

A recent bulk mailing from a local realtor provided a gorgeous picture of a stream bank in autumn and a lovely quote, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” The quote is by … Albert Camus.

I’m not in the real estate market but the placard leaves me with many questions.

Who is this realtor? Did he just grab a nature quote at random or was he a philosophy major who now needs to make a living?

What would the famous existentialist think of this? Is he doing a grave roll? Or would he see no difference between a quote to sell real estate and a book to sell course units at a university?

Let me know if you have any answers.

My Aging Lavender

As lavender bushes get older, they get leggy, a quality that is desirable in supermodels but not in plants.  The plants get woody, also. Woody and leggy are roughly the same idea: most of each branch or stalk loses its leaves and blooms, and grows naked and gnarled. The branch is not dead – there is still life at the top, as lovely and fragrant as ever. The onset of this condition can be delayed with the right care and grooming but it cannot be prevented.

Many a gardener removes a plant when it gets like this and I considered doing so yesterday. The aged lavender is right at the start of my front walkway – who wants to see a long-in-the-tooth mass of twisted branches? But I couldn’t bring myself to chop. After all, there is all that fresh growth at the end of each branch. And as I pruned away the dead stuff, I grew fond of the intricate twists of naked branches. Finding the right spot to clip, to extricate a dead branch from among the still living ones, was as satisfying as solving a complicated puzzle.

I now see those gnarled and interwoven branches as beautiful, also, in a very different way than the dusky leaves or their enveloping fragrance. The flowers are gorgeous but the twisted bare branches tell so much about how the lavender has grown and changed through its life. I hope I get many more years with this plant!

An Ode to Dirt

In between rainstorms, I just took the dog for a walk and it is so clean and fresh outside – it smells like dirt!

Dirt has always been important to me.  Dirt is being outdoors. Dirt is gardening, and the thrill of a plant thriving (okay, sometimes simply surviving) in my domain. Dirt is geology field trips, and reading the landscape to glimpse the history of the planet. Dirt is many happy childhood hours between the roots of the backyard tree, where I was determined to dig to China.

Dirt should not be confused with dust, however, which is a housekeeping annoyance.