“The sensorial landscape … not only opens into that distant future waiting beyond the horizon but also onto a near future, onto an immanent field of possibilities waiting behind each tree, behind each stone, behind each leaf from whence a spider may at any moment come crawling into our awareness.”   *





Here by Little Crum Creek, a grass spider has spun its home on some pokeweed.

Emerging from funneled retreat between leaves, it will dash across a dew-dappled plane to capture some prey.

Insects don’t stick to its web.  Instead, overhead threads waylay them enough for the spider, in a flash, to get its way.

Tens of these deceptions dot the hillside.  And autumn’s morning sun reveals them.

Here & there, dampened filaments glisten upon ivy, summersweet, azalea, grass, and even the wooden railings of backdoor steps.

Our warm days are passing. But still we can meet the spider:  Get our shoes wet.  Crouch beside a reflective plane.  Peek behind its surface, inside a crispy, curled, brown leaf thought hollow.  Or simply wait, as any spider in the tunnel of a moment has waited  …  calls of jays, a rising sun, the leafy rustle of squirrels  …  and see what comes.




The creek’s first pokeweed seedlings popped up in spring.

By July, their leafy crimson stems sprawled widely over the hillside, blooming white-sepaled clusters of tiny flowers.

These flowers soon produced some tough green fruit ripening through August into juicy purple berries.

The berries have since been crowding heavily on September’s and October’s ruddy stalks.



Pokeweed is toxic to most animals, including humans, and especially children.  Severe, even fatal, poisoning is possible through ingestion.

Still, Native Americans in the area are said to have found several uses for the plant. One was the fashioning of a red dye from its berries.

Likewise, since colonial times, pokeweed has made a convenient ink for writing.

These uses have inspired another common name: inkberry.



Native to the eastern states, pokeweed is plentiful in the region.

So making a small jar of Little Crum Creek’s American Pokeweed Ink is as simple as pressing and straining a bowlful of berries.

With a simple dip of the pen, we can soon be writing with the creekside.


Salt & vinegar might help preserve the ink & hold the color. But neither are necessary. Careful around pets & children–the ink is still toxic.