Sunday, August 17, 2008

Park Tangles

Ok, I wasn't really naked when I went running around the lake Saturday morning, but I left my camera at home, which makes me feel unclothed. I have no fanny brice pack so as yet I go unencumbered. It was a good thing the hands were empty though, I needed both of them free before long.

I don't like running on the jogging path because it's uneven and I'm already dealing with a lot of structural imbalance so I sought out the flatter paths by the water. I took a lot of breaks though to stop and stare at things, like the light patterns the waves threw on a lilting tree trunk on an island not far from the shore, interrupted on occasion by birds slicing through the air. Or light shining through the leaves of pokeweed rising in front of some kind of tree with large bunches of small dark berries that reminded me of currants. As I passed each of the islands I wondered if it was the one called the Music Island. It's an intriguing idea, though I read the acoustics weren't that good for those listening from shore. But according to Micheal Pollan, it's quite enough to simply play for the plants.

Over the bridge heading towards the Maryland Monument I easily convinced myself I was out west because of the crispness of the pines and the clarity of the day. The Staghorn Sumac's cones of small nappy balls were red, maybe still bearing the crystals of citric acid you need if you use it to make "Indian Lemonade."

Coming down past the Nethermead towards the playground I saw a monarch butterfly caught in an enormous spider's web. Without thinking I snatched it out and tried to free it from the surprisingly tough material it had gotten bound up in. I tried and tried but the butterfly seemed messed up so I couldn't help but mock my efforts at heroism which seemed to be making things worse. It was flapping frantically like a fish out of water, hard to help. I wished a bird would swoop down about then and put the monarch out of its misery.

But some things are impossible to give up on, so I decided to sit down in the shade and the butterfly seemed to calm down then. It stilled and stood on my finger, and I got a little delirious with its tiny weight, its briefly clinging feet, its prow like thorax bearing impeccable black vestments with the white spots whose perfection and rhythm forge a mysterious gate into the transcendant. I saw there was a stick tangled up in the web attached to one wing, so holding the wing in place, I tore the offending strands. The next thing I knew it was off, taking the air in great strides of altitude as if it were desperately late for a critical rendezvous.

I don't like the melodrama of choosing sides and feel connected to the 8 legged ones, so I'm a bit disturbed that I foiled the spider. But looking at it another way, I consider that the arachnid allowed me the experience of freeing the butterfly from its trap, my daily dose of skull-splitting beauty, another bauble to string up on this the massive and inscrutable electronic spyder's web.

Later in the day I found the eldest child hard at work with a screw driver dissecting a rubber ball containing the toy spider shown in the picture above. She freed it, which pleased her little sister, but she devilishly told the youngest that the spider was going to come alive, so I was commanded to take the little toy outside for the night.

No comments: