Our Golden Forest
Our Golden Forest

I had wondered what colors our forest would wear in the autumn. Most of the trees turned golden with just a little splash of red here and there. Our forest turned so golden that it reminded me of Lothlorien in The Lord of the Rings, which was considered one of the most beautiful and elvish places in Middle-earth. It was often called the Golden Wood, referring to the golden mallorn trees that grew in that land. It was also called the “Valley of Singing Gold.” (Yes, I admit it, I really love Middle-earth.)

A wasp or hornet nest.
A wasp or hornet nest.

Every day more and more leaves fall in a golden rain. It’s awesome! More trees are becoming bare, which means we can see deeper into the forest which is now covered with a golden carpet. The bare trees reveal secrets: I spotted a huge wasp or hornet nest hanging from a tree. I’ve never seen one so large. The biggest one I had ever seen before this was when I was a child. The nest was in the peak of our two-story house and my Dad, who was involved in archery tournaments, shot it down with his bow. For years there were a couple of arrows stuck in the house.

I tried to capture some of the showers of leaves on video today, and I also videoed Danny racing around the yard. Most of the time he just sort of slowly meanders, but now and then he races around as if he is so excited he can’t contain himself. By the time I turned on my camera he was mostly done running, but I caught a little of it.

Danny looked so awesome sitting in the leaves today that I took photos of him. The photos turned out exceptionally well and he looks regal. Usually I just get a black blob with eyes and a nose.

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Today I read an article that said that the Snowy Owls were beginning to migrate south for the winter. There have been sightings not too far from here. I have never seen a Snowy Owl, and I would love to see one, so I am keeping my eyes open. I saw a huge bird soaring overhead this weekend and called for EJ to “Hurry! Come! Look!” He said he thought it was a red-tailed hawk. I have seen hawks before, but this one looked big. It was awesome.

EJ’s Mom and sister came to visit this last weekend. Because we don’t have a guest room (our third bedroom is our library), they stayed in a nearby motel and visited on Friday and Saturday afternoons. It was really nice to see them. EJ’s Mom is getting more feeble each time we see her.

JJ got sick with some sort of respiratory infection late last week. He came home early from work on Thursday. He talked to Grandma a little, but didn’t get too close because he didn’t want to risk making her sick. He seemed to get over it quickly, so he was able to have breakfast with his Dad, Grandma, and Aunt at a restaurant on Sunday morning before Grandma and Aunt made the long trip home. I, on the other hand, got sick on Saturday night and spent Sunday in bed with a bad headache, body aches, congestion, and sneezes. I’m improving now, but I’m still not feeling particularly well. I think it hit me hardest because I am so depleted.

On Friday night EJ stopped at a grocery store after work and bought some Sambucus, which is an elderberry extract that is supposed to diminish the effects of colds and such. When he got home, he poured us each a dose into medicine cups. It was a thick dark purple liquid. JJ saw it and asked a couple of times, “What is it? What is it?” I suddenly remembered when he was in preschool. I babysat a few kids at the time, and they used to come out to the kitchen where I was making lunch and asked repeatedly, “What are you making? What are we having for lunch?” At first I answered honestly, but they all asked so often that I started making up wild creative answers: “We are having boiled worms today” or “I’m making baked shark” or “This is fried octopus.” Whichever child asked the question would run into the other room yelling, “Yuck! She said she’s making boiled worms!” Back to the present: Friday night EJ started telling JJ that he was giving him Sambucus, but I interrupted and said, “It’s Dragon’s Blood. If you drink it, or so they say, you will be able to understand the speech of animals. If you make friends with a dragon, he sometimes will let you have a few drops.” Since then, we’ve been referring to the elderberry extract as Dragon’s Blood. “Have you had any Dragon’s Blood yet today?” we ask. I probably read too many fantasy stories.

Last night Danny asked to go outside at about midnight. He danced with impatience, so I knew the need was urgent. I put his leash on him, as I do every night, because I don’t want to risk losing him in the black darkness of the night. I opened the door and he ran out ahead of me, and then I saw it. The GIANT SPIDER in the middle of the porch. I screamed and slammed the door, with Danny outside and me holding the handle of the retractable leash inside. Since the door would hold the leash and prevent Danny from wandering away, I dropped the handle, grabbed the Spider Killer spray, and went out the other door and around to the porch. With sickening fear I approached the vile creature and sprayed and sprayed and sprayed him. He crawled off, leaving a spider outline in the foam–like a crime scene drawing. He was mostly dead but still alive, so with pounding heart I stepped over him and opened the door holding Danny’s leash. I took Danny off to use his “facilities.” I swear this spider was the biggest yet. I wanted proof of his size and I thought the spider outline would make an interesting photo so with a thudding heart and many looks around to make sure no other giant spiders were sneaking up on me, I took my camera outside and took a picture. Later I went out again with a tape measure so I could have a scale to compare him to. I felt like a homicide detective.

JJ laughed at my fear and then kept exclaiming, “Oh! There’s a spider on you!” He used to do that to me a lot when he was a kid, and usually I tried to keep my cool but sometimes I forgot and totally freaked out. I never particularly liked the scares, but it seems something boys like to do, and I could pretty much handle it down where the spiders were small. But up here, the spiders are so big that they have me completely scared. EJ reassured me today that there are no spiders on earth that hunt humans and that wolf spiders are not harmful. I’m not convinced. However, I think I am scared of spiders because of all the corny now-classic horror movies that were on TV on Saturday afternoons when I was a kid. I never liked horror movies, but I had a bunch of older siblings…Some of the movies had gigantic spiders that terrorized a city. Then there were the movies in the 1970s in which someone nasty would always place a tarantula in a house to terrorize a victim and it would sloooowly creep across the bed toward her. And then there is the giant spiders in fantasy movies like The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Spiders are the stuff of nightmares. Shudder. I told JJ today that it’s not funny anymore. I would never ever scare anyone with the thing that scares them and he needs to stop scaring me.  He apologized and said he won’t….but I expect he will forget.

Even though the huge spiders scare me, they don’t immobilize me. I still go out and kill them, which takes courage. JJ can tease me, but he was just as scared when the one got inside the door a few weeks ago…and he’s not out there confronting the spiders and killing them. It’s easy to be brave when you don’t have to deal with the spiders.


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