Cityscape Green and Eight Legs






Looking out the back door I can see the army of cars zipping north and south on Shields. It's 5:30 PM, so these maneuvers are to be expected, with people trying to re-enter, or escape, Fort Collins. It seems this traffic mimics the town: ever moving faster. I focus in on a blue minivan, a city truck, pick-ups galore, and a Transfort bus. Too bad all of these people are flying along at such speed on this perfect evening. It's 65 degrees, sunset not far off, the mountains to the west look like a backdrop in pastels, and a hawk and two magpies discuss right-of-way in the airlanes over me. I hope some of the metal enclosed folks in those autos are seeing a bit of this, and not just concentrating on the car in front, or the light ahead.

I realize I am wondering if the Shields battalion are aware of the mountains and birds while I am looking past my own surroundings. Much like my Minolta, my eyes focus down to the smaller world I am looking through to the humanity on Shields. A web, a big one, maybe a foot square, is inches from my face. My holier than thou, I see the nature around me and you don't, attitude is instantly cured with this dose of humility. Hell, I even know the web is there, it has been for 3 weeks, and I still forgot to see it.

Big Bubba is up in the upper right hand corner of his maze, near the door jamb. He's got a feast, a once fat, now desiccated, gypsy moth. I think Big Bubba is a Leopard Spider, but my spider identification book has eluded me since his arrival. Whatever he is, he's a much larger version of it than he was 3 weeks ago. He's the size of a quarter, gray, with distinguishing black stripes along his back. I don't really know how to define him, 'pet' certainly is inaccurate. Pets have names, and Big Bubba isn't a name, but a description I used when my wife pointed him out on his first day of residency. Once she began leaving the porch light on at night, to provide some warmth and attract his meals, he became a permanent, temporary, part of our home ecosystem. Temporary, not because of anything we would do to dislodge him from his digs, but because, with winter coming, his slot in our ecology will be frozen out. That I won't do anything to change. Humans have done enough to alter the natural world without me moving a spider to the basement as a winter retreat. Leaving the light on at night is intrusion enough, but at least I can justify that because he may have chosen that spot because I do leave the light on late into the night. It was his instinct for survival that had him locate near the light, rather than the light being a bonus after he made his site selection.

Zoom out. Siren blaring, a member of Fort Collin's finest has pulled over one of the motorized. It would be nice to think the patrolman was telling the auto occupant to slow down and watch the hawk, but I'm fairly certain that's not his goal. This is the worse time of day for mechanized mania. At least in the morning the yellow, light flashing school zone signs, with their explicit 20 mph warnings, get most drivers to slow to 40, maybe giving them a chance to glimpse the red fox who hunts the dawn field next to Shields.

Remembering to duck under Big Bubba's snare, I walk out onto the back deck. Being able to see vistas in all directions now, I adjust to my wide-angle eye lens. Deep blues, purples, and a little red are washing across the sky. No breeze is stroking me, but there must be good air currents higher, since the hawk continues to soar overhead. The magpies have given up their challenge of him, and are picking at the dirt in the garden at my property's rear, squawking with their distinctive, cutting, caw. Panning to the west I pick out the mountains. They become more majestic as the light level lessens. It's so clear, several layers of ranges are visible, with Horsetooth Mountain a fanged presence in the foreground.

Another siren is coming this way. Blinking out of wide angle and back to normal vision, I catch sight of a white, shrieking, ambulance rounding the corner. Here, at least, is someone who really has no time to look past his or her current function. As it flies past my street, my interest in it's destination wanes and I swivel back to my turf.

A moth is lazing along in front of me (Big Bubba's next meal?), almost bouncing as he flutters along. My eyes begin to change to zoom and focus in, when a flash of blue in the background catches them. It's a car pulling over and a tall, suited, elderly man is getting out. He's stepping over the curb, into the field, and looking up. Not glancing up, but really, truly, looking up. I want to be absolutely sure, and not make any rash judgments, so I eye zoom in on him. I'll be damned, I'm right. He's smiling and watching the hawk. I think I'll go over and invite him to meet Big Bubba.