“It is in the wild in the seventh month,

Under the eaves in the eighth month,
In the house in the ninth month,
and under my bed in the tenth month.”   *  ^
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Some anonymous soul composed this verse over 2500 years ago in China.

Today one might witness a similar pattern repeating itself here on Little Crum Creek.

Summer’s chirping symphonies of the grass have gradually dwindled to autumn’s solitary calls.

And a field cricket suddenly sounds from a darkened corner of the house.

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Only a male field cricket chirps, rubbing his wings to attract a mate.

The female is distinguished by a long, menacing-looking appendage jutting from her back end.

Actually harmless, this ovipositor inserts fertilized eggs in the soil after a successful coupling.

Those eggs overwinter, hatching a new generation of field crickets in the spring.

But the parents won’t survive to see them.

So why begrudge a male’s last call in the house or, seen from the corner of my eye somewhere down on the floor, a mother’s final crawl?

The silence and stillness of winter comes soon enough.

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“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.”   *

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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.

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Among the birds rounding out late winter’s crowd of Grackles on Little Crum Creek, European Starlings were the fewest. 

But their inconspicuousness was striking.

Starlings are often called a nuisance.  Blanketing habitat, outcompeting other birds, and nesting in the nooks & crannies of buildings, they can make quite a mess.

Autumn’s sudden murmurations of flying starling flocks make another impression.  The fluid black cloud shapes undulating in the sky can be mesmerizing.

In Refuge, Terry Tempest Williams describes her experience of them:

The symmetry of starling flocks takes my breath away; I lose track of time and space….They rise.  Hundreds of starlings.  They wheel and turn, twist and glide, with no apparent leader.  They are the collective.  A flight of frenzy.  They are black stars against a blue sky…expanding and contracting along the meridian of a winged universe. (57)

But here in February, a single starling like the one pictured can nearly escape notice.

Humbly shaking freezing rain from its feathers, it waits in the periphery to pick at a feeder full of Grackles, Cowbirds, & Red-winged Blackbirds. 

One among a flock of others, this European Starling seems to be simply biding its time.