29 October 2014

( walking into webs )

portraits of nature
( walking into webs )
by “porcupine pat” mckinney

you’ve felt them outside while walking on a lawn or traipsing a trail in the woods—those thin strands of spider webbing that tickle your nose or stick to your shirt are commonplace at this time of year. fall is the season for spiders to think fanciful thoughts in family-ways, and because of that, their presence is more pronounced.

warm days and cool nights bring rise to morning dew that accentuates webs, whether on the ground or dangling between two logical spots. you swear that spiders must have some semblance of intelligence, given the engineering feat they construct, weaved not only in the name of utility but art, too.


( notice the dark hole weaved into this web to the right 
of this fence post; inside it is the resting spider who made it )

gossamer is the name for the flying airborne strands of extremely fine silk, aka webbing. spiders spin strands to launch themselves to move from one place to another. this is the art of “ballooning.” male spiders are on the prowl in search of a perfect match of female.

although most rides will end a few yards later, it seems to be a common way for spiders to invade islands. many sailors have reported that spiders have been caught in their ship's sails, even when far from land !

the silk spun from spiders is a protein which functions as a trap or net to catch their prey.  their silk is also used as nests or cocoons to protect their little ones and also to keep themselves suspended. spiders are also the only critters which use silk in their daily lives.

spider webs have existed for at least 100 million years, as witnessed in a rare find of early cretaceous amber from england.  insects can get trapped in spider webs, providing nutrition to the spider; however, not all spiders build webs to catch prey, and some do not build webs at all, like the wolf spider which prowls the ground in search of food.

"spider web" is typically used to refer to a web that is apparently still in use (i.e. clean), whereas "cobweb" refers to abandoned (i.e. dusty) webs. those spider “webby” nooks and crannies now hold greater meaning.

some silk strands are stronger than steel strands of the same thickness. the silk of the nephila spider is the strongest natural fiber known and is used to make tote bags and fish nets. in a certain species, spiders can use their web to capture an air bubble; with this bubble, the spider can survive and hunt under water where other spiders and insects would drown.

every web begins with a single thread, which forms the basis of the rest of the structure. to establish this bridge, the spider climbs to a suitable starting point (up a tree branch, for example) and releases a length of thread into the wind. with any luck, the free end of the thread will catch onto another branch. if the spider feels that the thread has caught onto something, it cinches up the silk and attaches the thread to the starting point.

pioneer housewives might swat you if you smashed a spider in their cabins. they served as nature’s bug zappers back then ! spiders do their part by controlling the massive population growth of insects, especially insect pests. keep this in mind as you enjoy the prominent autumn display of webs and webbing all around you. 

( the flows and currents of life )

by jennifer hetrick

betsy groller of amity township understands the connection of water and what it is to be human, far beyond making sure we drink enough each day.

as someone who practices reiki largely on animals and often remotely, with pet companions noticing the effects in the moment (a dog suddenly stretching out relaxingly after being curled up a ball on the floor—later learning these scenes matched the exact minutes of when she fit in a session), groller’s curiosities and comprehension have often fallen directly in line with how water takes its routes in natural places like oceans, rivers, and creeks.

and grasping what it means to truly fall effortlessly into the flows and currents of life, much as water does on the earth, has been a great asset to groller and those who connect with her heart.

for those who aren’t familiar with reiki, groller describes it as “a practice that originated in japan, which helps to bring about healing within your body physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  through gentle placements of hands, the reiki goes to the receiver or client and can bring deep relaxation, which can help the body to elicit a healing response.”


( the schuylkill river’s view from main street in union township, berks county )

“it was through my own personal experiences,” groller says about how she began to stumble across conversations of the flows and currents in life, years ago. “i started really thinking about what i was going through at that time and how, if i let go of it instead of struggling, i would go in the direction spirit wanted me to.”

she reflects that a lot of what made her suddenly shift perspectives is strains at the time in her 9 to 5 work.

“when facing obstacles in my day job, which is how all of this really came about, i realized that i had to let go and trust, and my stress was reduced, and the tension at work dissipated,” she says. “i also believe that if part of my path at that time was to make a more physical change, that could have happened as well.” 

as water lets go, so did groller.

“changes by 'letting go' can sometimes be big or subtle, but it is still a result of letting go and going with the flow of our life, our path.”
“so much our body is water, and that is why we are so affected by the moon and things which affect water,” she says. “but generally, we love water; we associate it with fun and freedom and movement.”

groller also points out that we need water in order for us to survive.

groller gives an illustration of how she views the currents and flows of water as a parallel to how we could live, away from the resistance that often holds us back and keeps us from being happy, whether we realize our role in this or not.

“i try to think of it literally when we are struggling, it is like holding on tightly to a branch in a strong current of a river—it is trying to pull you in the direction you should go (our spiritual path), but yet we continue to hold on out of fear, the unknown, thinking if we can just make it up river (to the answer we feel we need), everything will be alright, when all we need to do is let go and float along with the current which eventually becomes a calm gentle current,” she reflects.


( besides waters moving along in oceans, rivers, and creeks, some visuals betsy groller
 says she thinks of in the practice of following the flows and currents in life, instead 
of resisting them, are a soaring hawk or eagle and a leaf blowing in the breeze 
in autumn and falling wherever it may land. )

“water is constantly moving, but when water doesn't move, it becomes static, toxic, and i think that is very symbolic for us when we don't continue to move, to grow to change,” she says.

some authors whose works groller noted reading in the time when she became curious about embracing versus resisting the currents and flows in life are wayne dyer, louise hay, esther hicks, sonia choquette, amy rowland, thich nhat hanh, and deepak chopra.

some examples groller gave of when we resist instead of embracing and allowing situations to move into better places for us are arguing with a child or feeling stressed about struggling financially and trying to fix the circumstances but seeing no improvements. our resistance is often behind more than we realize and can often keep good from filtering into our days.

to find out more, visit at www.4pawreiki.com.