Sunday, March 15, 2009


SIXTY DEGREES!!! No wind and nothing but sun.  Man, it felt like Florida here today!  Shirtsleeves and sunglasses:  that's all the gear we needed to go outdoors.  Plus waterproof boots.  The snow's still plenty deep in the woods, but we could walk on top of it without snowshoes.  Most of the time.

Here's a photo of my son Philip, standing on the banks of the Hudson River at Moreau.  We hiked along the river and through the woods, enjoying the water music of trickling streams.  We poked at ice floes, basked in the sun, were dazzled by dancing light off the open water.  We found a patch of wintergreen, bright red berries so plump and tasty it's hard to believe they spent the winter beneath two feet of snow.

And here's another creature out for a stroll on this lovely day:  a coal-black spider walking across the snow.  I wonder what she will find to eat.  Do spiders stock a larder to last all winter?  Do spiders sleep all winter?  Was this one hatched last September, when the autumn air was streaked with hundreds of shining strands of silk, a wee little baby spider attached to each?  So many things I don't know.  I asked for a spider book for my birthday, but that won't be until May.  Maybe someone reading this blog knows the answers.  Hmmm?


Allan Stellar said...

Oh, I bet sixty degrees felt oh so good!

There are spiders who live near the summit of Everest! Hardy buggers!

greentangle said...

I just took a class taught by a spider fanatic, but the class wasn't about spiders. He (Larry Weber) has a book called Spiders of the North Woods which has great photos and info on spider biology. He has a page on wintering--apparently there are several possibilities depending on when mating occurred.

He writes, "Overwintering spiders are often immatures in one of the growth instars. Despite the cold of a North Woods winter, the snow cover and leaf litter seem to be adequate protection to allow spiders to survive. Activity slows, but they occasionally become more active on warm winter days."

Woodswalker said...

Thanks, Allan and greentangle. I love how your comments bring new information and extend the conversation. That Weber book is the one I requested for my birthday. It's going to be hard to wait two months for it. Thanks for the foretaste.

greentangle said...

What a coincidence. Just so you know, according to the book it's focused on northern MN, WI, & MI, but I'm sure there's lots of overlap.

Also it doesn't pretend to be complete. "Instead, we have highlighted some of the most common, several of the bizarre, a few of the most colorful and, yes, even a couple poisonous spiders that are at the fringe of their range."

I asked him to sign my copy, and along with the names he wrote, "Spiders are cool!!"

NatureGirl said...

I met Larry Weber last summer, when he stopped at the VIC. He had his book with him, and we chatted, rather extensively, about spiders. I promptly bought his book (and blogged it). There is LOTS of overlap with the Adks, so I do highly recommend it.