Warning: If you suffer from arachnophobia or are the least bit afraid of spiders, stop reading right now.
I learned after publishing my first book that occasionally warnings are necessary in a world where free speech is supposed to be the law of the land. Despite that fact, some people get highly offended about certain things. Like books with fictional characters who are liberals and sometimes voice their opinion. But that’s not what this blog is about.
I had to do some serious motivating of the spousal unit this morning. He’s still on muscle relaxers and pain meds for his back. When he’s not working, he’s planted in the recliner in front of the TV. I cannot watch TV with him, I do not like grazing through the 700 channels available on Direct TV. I like to nest with one show, even staying with it during the commercials. I get really upset if he moves on to another show and we get back too late and miss something important.
I wanted to go on a field trip that involved a walk. I was adamant that walking and moving around would be good for his back. I searched the Internet and found some info on Deerfield Island Park. It was close by and free. My powers of persuasion won out, a minor miracle. We set out for our adventure shortly after eleven.
The park is set on an island in the Intracoastal accessible by taking a free, two minute boat shuttle.
Al Capone wanted to buy this island and build a mansion but the folks in Boca Raton didn’t want a gangster living in the next town over, so they put the kabosh on the deal. He fought them on this, but eventually ended up in prison, where he died. Now the island belongs to you and me.
The boat captain was very informative. He told us the Al Capone story and also warned us there are spiders on the island. “Harmless,” he said. “They don’t bite, but they’re everywhere. You’ll see them across many of the trails.”
“Will they fall on us?” my husband asked.
“No, but we did have a girl here a few weeks ago who froze when she saw them. I mean, literally, she froze. We had to help her back to the boat. But don’t worry, they aren’t poisonous and they eat the mosquitos. We don’t have mosquitos on the island.”
“Maybe we should send some of the spiders to New Hampshire,” I laughed. A slightly nervous laugh, but I figured they couldn’t be any worse than sea lice.
The trail started with a boardwalk.
We immediately encountered the spiders.
Yes, that is a spider hanging from that skinny limb. He’s actually not hanging from the limb, it just looks like he is. He’s sitting on his web. The webs are huge but very hard to capture in the sunlight with all the greenery and sunshine behind them. Here’s a fairly decent photo of a large web:
Rich pulled on one of the filaments running across the railing of the boardwalk. It was amazingly strong, like a very thin fishing wire. Taller than me, he kept walking into webs and brushing them off his forehead. He put his hat on. His wardrobe consists of lots of paint clothes, denim and khaki. Oddly, he is dressed very appropriately today. We brought the binoculars. I had read there was very good bird watching here. I tell him he looks like a birder. He tells me “that was intentional.”
I make fun of him for this serendipitous costume. I snap lots of pictures not knowing if any of them will show the full extent of the spider kingdom we have entered. I am strangely calm. Rich says we need to be quiet and walk slowly, that is the only way we will come across a gopher tortoise. They also live on the island. We only find a gopher tortoise hole.
There are crabs here as well but all we see are more holes.
I really want to see a green iquana. They grow to be five feet long.
Not indigenous to the area, like snowbirds from the Northeast and Midwest, they have adapted well to Florida life and at the rate they are reproducing they have become invasive. They eat up lots of plants that other indigenous creatures need to survive. They are like the high rises along the Intracoastal and the beach in Boynton with its illegal Private sign, greedily devouring up the land. All we see are more spiders. I brush a sticky web off my arm.
That bright white thing that looks like a star in the center of the photo is actually a spider. Rich points to the blue sky, dozens of webs crisscross between the branches of the trees.
That’s not a little brown bird on that tree limb, it’s a spider.
That’s a spider web the size of a sheet drying on a clothesline. The bug eyed thing is yet another spider.
This is a tree called Simpson’s Stopper. The informational sign says it can be used once for dysentary. I am not sure why only once. Does it become poisonous upon repeated usage? It also says it smells fragrant , like eucalyptus leaves and has edible orange seeds. We don’t smell anything and the seeds are not in bloom at this time of year. Like the gopher tortoise, the crabs, and the iguana, it is all mysterious. Like the magic of Christmas, you just have to believe. There are subtle signs of Christmas in the park. Someone hung a red bulb on a tree.
A boater lost his Christmas bow.
And the Florida holly are seasonally in bloom.
This is a photo of the brackish water along the boardwalk, taken through a spider web.
We’ve been wandering and walking for forty five minutes. We need to get back to the dock or we will have to wait an hour for the next shuttle. Rich is done with walking slowly and quietly and observing nature. He hightails it out ahead of me, determined not to miss the boat.
We drive to the beach, where yes, I do get him to take another walk along the shore. I think I wore him out. As I write this blog, he is watching college bowl games in his recliner. I can hear him snoring. Like finding Christmas in Florida, nature is all around us here too, sometimes on an island, other times behind a shopping plaza. It’s not as obvious as in the White Mountains of New Hampshire or the Rockies in the West, but it’s there to be enjoyed and explored if you just set out and look for it.
Of course I have a song for this. Honey Spiders by The Parlotones. Check it out.