Monday, September 30, 2013

Solidago, Spider and the Bumblebee

Genus Solidago, encompassing a dozen or so closely related species of showy yellow wildflowers brightening the Sandhills byways this fall, is an herbaceous perennial which puts forth new growth each spring from its rhizomatous roots. From a Latin term meaning "to make whole," Solidago has long been reputed to have healing properties.
As the autumn sun tracks further south each day, the hundreds of tiny composite "sunflowers" adorning the stems of these ubiquitous herbs seem to grow more radiant, determined to fulfill the promise of their common name, goldenrod.

Hoot Owl Karma set out Saturday to photograph and identify as many goldenrod species as possible. The morning began auspiciously, dawning bright and clear, but we were soon distracted from nomenclature by the sight of this desiccated flying insect.

Drained of all its vital fluids. Dangling derelict beneath a bough of bright yellow blossoms.
 Definitely no accident.

Poised motionless on a gilded branch nearby, four forelegs fully cocked, ready to seize the next careless nectar-seeker that settles for an instant on the tip of this particular golden wand;
 a flower spider. 

One of the infamous crab spiders. Ambush predators.
Bane of bees and wasps and every late-season nectar lover that happens to fly or crawl or hop within reach of that still, silent embrace.

No worrisome webs, no tacky entanglements, just a single steel-strong strand. 
Safety harness.
Guarding against an unexpected gust or a tussle with a tenacious life-loving arthropod. 

Warm sun.
Blue sky. 
Spring-loaded spider.

Quarter moon wanes. 
Blue, blue sky. 
Death in the guise of gold.

Goldenrod and vine, weeds entwined. 

Giant goldenrod pierces the blue. 

Bumblebee imbibes with Bacchanalian delight.
Spider watches, biding its time.

Gilded jungle teems with life.

Towering giants and diminutive sprouts.
Fenced in, fenced out?
Wherever goldenrod blooms, thirsty flying stinger zooms...

Gangly stalks with golden crowns, autumn's radiant heralds hold their ground. 

Five abreast and a well-matched pair; bold, bright sentries tall and fair. 

Hover fly and bumblebee.
Intrepid descendants from the clear blue skies.
Pause, replenish.
Life is short.


Tiny golden goblin, streaked with black. 

Invisible; equal parts sunshine and shadow. 

A single, lily-white pearl of guano. Cycles of life.

The Spider and the Bumblebee.
Annuals all, the field guides say...
Lifetimes measured in weeks or months, not years.
Of what consequence, then, their fate today?

When autumn's gone the way of the quarter moon, and winter owns the land,
Of what import, the cold grey stalks of goldenrod or spidery traces on the sand?
There is no drama in these scenes. No heroes. No survivors.
If the bee should fly to live another day
Cold December yet will have its way.
And if the spider again prevail,
one harsh night of frost will end the tale.

Annuals all, the field guides say...

Of what consequence, then, their fate today?


  1. The beauty to be found on Hoot Owl Karma once again helps me get my day started right!

  2. Thanks, Raymond. And an early beginning it is, I see!