Tuesday, July 17, 2007
It ain't Disneyland
One of the consequences of hitting a wooded trail early in the morning is that you get a lot of cobwebs in the face. The spiders work all night putting up their nets to catch a nice meal, and then careless humans like myself come charging through and demolish them. Usually I just have to brush a few strands of silk from my eyes, but every so often I'll run into a major arachnid construction and be left covered with stickiness, not to mention ensnared prey, or even the spider herself. I always apologize, but the spiders still seem quite put out.
If I run into other early hikers, they will often complain about the cobwebs. One guy even swings a stick out ahead of him to clear the trail. I understand why he does it--picking spider silk off your glasses and out of your hair is not much fun--but I can't help thinking that he and I see our time in the woods very differently. Carrying a cobweb cudgel is about the last thing that would occur to me. It seems so hostile. Even if I could magically wish away the cobwebs, I wouldn't. The truth is, I kinda like the little annoyances of the outdoors: the cobwebs, the mosquitos, the yellow jackets, the sudden rainshowers, the occasional anointing with bird poop or squirrel pee--all those things are as essential to a walk in the woods as the scent of the cedars or the sight of a fawn.
I don't want to wrestle rattlesnakes, and nobody avoids poison ivy more diligently than me, but I wouldn't want my little taste of nature to be too blandly idyllic. Just as part of the charm of the city lies in its touch of chaos and mild dangers, so the lure of the forest is incomplete without a little possibility of hurt.