Walking into spider webs/screening phone calls 

28 July, 2019            Walking into spider webs/screening phone calls 

Evelyn and I were over in Bonair Monday evening and came back across the Huguenot Bridge toward the Virginia Eye Institute and Starbucks. Evelyn pointed out this impressive buck sauntering along the shoulder of Huguenot Road across from Starbucks. He’s still in velvet. He looks pretty young – he’s not real muscular or confident looking. Six points minimum but maybe more. The light was poor but this came out okay: 

Whitetail buck, as photographed from Starbucks parking lot:

I also (of course) got a reasonable Red-tail Wednesday. She was in the Westhampton Memorial and Cremation Park. I’m not seeing a ton of raptors these days so I welcomed this image: 

Big female red-tail waking up, waiting for prey to wake up

I drive east on Patterson Avenue every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at a reasonable hour. I work with a person with a disability in the really early morning in the far west end those days. I come home down Patterson and always look at a tree in the swamp directly across the street from St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. I’ve seen Bald Eagles, ospreys, countless red-tailed hawks, and a number of Red-shouldered hawks. But Friday, for the first time ever, I saw a Turkey Vulture – warming its wings as it faced the rising sun: 

Carrion eater greets the morning sun

I saw a nice young skink later that day at Deep Run. This is a youngster as you can tell from the blue tail. It was also tiny. Just a miniature skink. I tried to put my pen down for scale but this little being was moving real, real quick in that bright morning sun: 

Shiny tiny skink with bright blue tail

My friends were out of town for a couple days and I took their dogs to the river Saturday. I regret now I could have staged two identical pictures; they would have looked neat together. But these are close. I took this picture of Lola and Luna yesterday at 9:13 AM. I took the picture of Mackey and Turner precisely twenty-four hours and thirty-two minutes later at 9:45 this morning. Our river is without peer, anywhere: 

Luna (left) and Lola yesterday morning

Turner (left) and Mackey today

Nothing about this video or the words to this song really relates to this post – it could be regarded as a throwaway pop song, and that wouldn’t necessarily be incorrect. But it’s a 1987 song by David Lee Roth called “Just Like Paradise”. And the chorus is only two simple lines and I repeat it constantly in my head when I’m at the river with dogs:

“This must be just like livin’ in paradise
And I don’t want to go home”

For the Wildlife Center of Virginia Wildlife Book Club this month we’re reading Spiders: Learning to Love Them by Lynne Kelly. That’s where (tangentially) I got the title for this post. I’ve been thinking a lot about spiders and there are a lot of webs around Pony Pasture this time of year. I wonder if that’s why the WCV picked this book – because it’s spiderweb time. They are hard to photograph! I’m not even a quarter of the way through yet, and so far I’ve learned much more about spiders than about the webs themselves. But you don’t have to know anything about gardenias to know they’re beautiful – they’re just beautiful. I don’t have to learn anything extra about this to appreciate its beauty – it’s perfect the way it is: 

I know it’s not a rose. But it is spectacular. It’s not even a miracle – any more than a rose is. But still.

The title of this blog post, for no particular reason, is adapted from a 1995 song by the band No Doubt. The song is called Spiderwebs and it’s about tangled up relationships. And screening phone calls, which some of us may recall was a thing you did back in the 1990’s. Before phones got “smart.”

Speaking of things that can be appreciated equally with knowledge or in its absence, look what Evelyn convinced to bloom in our yard Wednesday: 

Spiderwebs, the river, roses – all the same. Perfect the way they are – they cannot be improved.

That rose reminds me of a quote I saw recently – I’ll put it in here in a moment. I read a lot, lot, lot of books by a Vietnamese buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. He’s 92 now but he had a really bad stroke about five years ago and I’m pretty sure he’s not talking. Though he looks healthy. His best lessons (IMO) are numerous and so simple any child can easily understand them. It occurred to me as I typed that that sometimes they’re so simple an adult can’t understand them. But he doesn’t call for elaborate explanations of roses: 

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Enjoy the miracle this week! 

All best, 



About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, love, People, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, roses, simplify, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Spiders, whitetail deer, Wildlife Book Club, Wildlife Center of Virginia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Walking into spider webs/screening phone calls 

  1. Katie says:

    Bucks’ antler growth is related to nutrition as well as age. Around our place, it takes at least three years and usually closer to four to grow a set of antlers like that. On game farms where they plant forage mixes specifically for antler growth, they will grow bigger and faster. Part of what makes bucks muscle up is the need to hold up the weight of the antlers, but muscles are use or lose. So after they shed the antlers, they lose muscle mass in the neck and shoulders over the offseason, and regain it as the antlers grow back. Also, testosterone goes up for the rutting season and down the rest of the year, and we all know the effect that has on muscle mass and behavior. Right now they’re in the stage of growing antlers back, and I suspect the testosterone hasn’t kicked in to the extent it will later. So if you see him in a couple of months, he will look and act differently, and not just because his coat color has changed.

  2. Thank you! Several years ago on the other side of the river – this was when I was much less knowledgeable – I photographed a truly enormous whitetail buck. It made that little guy look like a chihuahua. But I don’t recall what time of year it was. It’s a crappy picture, but the absurdly huge antlers are very much in evidence. As is his extreme height at the shoulder and longer back than I’ve ever seen on a whitetail. I had a big pack of lunging dogs, fortunately all on leashes. His gaze is one of complete confidence, his tail is down, he is unconcerned. I probably photograph 1 buck for every 100 does I photograph.

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