My First Gossamer Season!

The arrival of autumn always leaves me a little blue. We closed up the pool in early September, just before the first leaves began falling from the trees. Our blissful days in the sun, floating on rafts and relaxing while listening to tropical music, were all just memories now. The birds had begun their migration, and only a few tattered butterflies could still be found enjoying the last of the blooming field flowers.  The woodlands seemed more quiet these days.  I found it all just a bit depressing.

Spirit gets a little frisky while grazing with her mama.
Spirit gets a little frisky while grazing with her mama.
Daisy and Spirit enjoying a lazy autumn afternoon at the base of the slope.
Daisy and Spirit enjoying a lazy autumn afternoon at the base of the slope.

It was not that everything was dismal though. My tomatoes and bell peppers seemed to be making a comeback due to the autumn rains and cooler temperatures. Daisy deer and her doe fawn, Spirit, were around a lot, feeding frequently on deer chow and nibbling corn. They both were packing on pounds lately and their winter coats were filling in, giving them a healthy, woolly look. They seemed more playful too. A couple of evenings ago, I caught Daisy gyrating her head in a silly way at Spirit (what we always refer to as doing the “crazy head”), and before long they were running and gamboling in play. Perhaps the cooler weather had them feeling frisky.

Late one afternoon, while walking alongside Daisy deer, with Spirit trailing behind, I saw a blob of what looked like spider webbing, floating in the air. It was calm out that day with not a puff of breeze, and the sun was beaming from the west. With the sun as a back-light, the webbing looked quite brilliant! But, alas, I had no camera with me and missed photographing the oddity.

A couple of strings of gossamer sail high above the trees in the open sky.
A couple of strings of gossamer sail high above the trees in the open sky.
At first glance this appeared to be a tiny bit of webbing, but with the zoom lens, it became apparent I had captured a little dragonfly. Both webbing and the wings of a dragonfly could be described as gossamer!
At first glance this appeared to be a tiny bit of webbing, but with the zoom lens, it became apparent I had captured a little dragonfly. Both webbing and the wings of a dragonfly could be described as gossamer!

Then, lo and behold, a few days later a friend mentioned seeing “gossamer” lately. He explained that often in autumn, on warm, windless days, one can see gossamer, or spider webbing, floating in the air. So that was it! I now remembered hearing of gossamer long ago, when I was a child in school! The only detail I could recall, however, was the phrase “on gossamer wings”. Perhaps it came from a poem or something.

So, when I got home, I Googled the term “gossamer” and came up with the description “spider ballooning”. Yes, this was exactly what I was seeing lately. I read too, that gossamer can actually be anything light and delicate floating about, like wings of  butterflies or dragonflies.  Perhaps that is what is meant by the term, “on gossamer wings”.  This was the time of year spiderlings took flight to areas unknown, by extruding several threads of silk and literally “kiting” themselves into the warm air.  Some may only land several yards away, while the fortunate ones end up miles from their place of origin.

Seeing the small web of a spider, high in the dead branches of a tree, I wondered about its story. Did a kiting spider catch hold and set up housekeeping there?
Seeing the small web of a spider, high in the dead branches of a tree, I wondered about its story. Did a kiting spider catch hold and set up housekeeping there?

In the coming weeks, I took note on the calm, sunny days, of the gossamer activity in the woodlands. I found late afternoon best for photographing the webbing that floated in the sky, but it was certainly a bit of trouble. Spotting a moving trail of fluff in a clear blue sky was the easy part. But following these small, moving objects that seemed to just disappear at times from the camera lens, made them difficult to capture. And, even if I did manage a photo of the gossamer with my zoom lens, I was too often sorely disappointed when I downloaded and viewed the images on my computer screen.  Unfortunately, the camera rarely did justice to capturing the white cotton-like substance as it changed form, gliding along in the air currents. Determined to get this right, though, I kept practicing.

Fortunately, each week provided at least one day of seeing gossamer floating gently in the warm afternoon air. I would sit for an hour or more on the slope, watching the webbing change form and quickly, but gently, float on its way to an unknown destination. Sometimes, one followed another, while some connected with other strings. A few spiraled downward, while others lifted higher and higher. As the white webbing floated high above me, I wondered how this phenomenon had managed to escape me all of my life?  Why had I never noticed this before?

This sticky mass of gossamer found a resting spot triangulated along two lines of horse fence.
This sticky mass of gossamer found a resting spot triangulated along two lines of horse fence.

As I often do when I notice something new in nature, I ponder the lesson that might be offered by the experience. Following Daisy deer around for the last year, I have become more aware of the little critters and insects that inhabit our woodlands. I am careful where I step, and I have learned to appreciate the presence of all creatures in my world.

So today, lazing on the grass of the slope and looking upward, I marvel at these little spiderlings, setting out on their own. I imagine how wonderful it would be if we, too, could just shoot a web into a little kite and be free to float in the warm air to an unknown destination? I thought about the tenacity and instinct that must motivate something so small to set off on such a journey, not knowing the outcome. How many times had I not followed my gut instinct because I did not have a plan, was not quite prepared, or was unsure of the outcome? Why could I not be more carefree and spontaneous about exploring my world and flying by the seat of my pants, if even for just a day?

Caught on a single leaf, a tangle of gossamer floats lazily in a bit of warm breeze.
Caught on a single leaf, a tangle of gossamer floats lazily in a bit of warm breeze.

Autumn does not have to serve as a marker of a grander season coming to a close, or as a reminder of the harsh conditions of winter looming around the corner. No, with its frosty mornings and warm afternoons, leaves of red and gold, and the gossamer on the wing, the fall season stands on its own. So, take the advice of a frisky deer or brave little spiderling… find your gossamer and do a little cruising about… enjoy the beautiful color and scenery that only autumn can bring!

© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


56 thoughts on “My First Gossamer Season!

  1. wonderful photos even if they were tough to take……we have been walking through buches of these trails lately now I know what they are and see more beauty in them thanks jolynn

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    1. Thank you for commenting, Jolynn. I am 52 years old and never noticed or knew about gossamer. It’s an amazing phenomenon, and now that I know about it, I’ll look forward to seeing it each autumn!

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  2. Your posts always make me wish we lived closer to each other. I would love to spend time with you shooting pictures, shooting the breeze, and visiting with Daisy and Spirit. A beautiful post, Lori!

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    1. Thank you, Lynda. I often find myself thinking the same thing. It’s lovely to know people who are like-minded… and yet, you and I learn so much from each other. Friendship is composed of many beautiful facets, eh?

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  3. First of all, I love the phrase “crazy head” — I’ve seen our deer do that too, and it’s always followed by something interesting to watch.
    Thanks for teaching me about kiting spiders. And I love how you find lessons in what you see in nature. Your point about being spontaneous is well-taken. I need to do that more often too!

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    1. There are lessons in every experience, if we are interested enough to ponder it! Kim, that crazy head action is hilarious! I think we humans should partake in it! I’d love to try it at Walmart… in the middle of an isle just do the “crazy head” and hurtle my cart down a few sections. Deer really know how to live. They have fun whenever they get the urge!

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  4. I love autumn, especially after a particularly hot and dry summer. It cools the soil, makes everything feel alive and I love the colour change of the leaves. Winter is just cold and wet (sometimes) here and we don’t get snow. I love the changing seasons and am especially happy with autumn because that’s when Brunhilda and I are back to our happy routines. This week sees us almost out of firewood and I am going to have to say goodbye to Brunilda for another year. It’s like saying goodbye to your best friend for months. We will have to turn the gas hot water system back on and it will be back to “cooking with gas” until early May-ish next year. I think I prefer the colder months to the hotter months even though there is less going on. They give you the time to think, to read, to reinvest yourself in the world and they give you back what you have put out through the busy months of spring and summer. I love the gossamer and cheers for sharing it with us 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Fran… for reminding me of so many beautiful reasons to love autumn. This will be my very first year to really kick back and rest. I plan to do more writing, and partake in activities I enjoy. You’re right, reinvesting in ourselves is paramount. It’s high time I enjoy the off season and enjoy the lax time. We just cut a dead tree down today… I wish I could ship all of that wonderful walnut wood to you for use in Brunilda. How sad that she’s not stoked right now!

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      1. It’s too warm to have Brunhilda on any more and much as I love the processes she initiates each year when it gets hot inside narf7 is a grumpy munchkin so best I get used to letting those processes lay fallow till next May ;). I wish you could ship it all here too but I dare say you can think of things to do with it over there. Walnut spoons are gorgeous and you could get a fair few of them out of an entire tree :). Maybe you could get some milled for wood/benches/tables etc. even cutting boards for the cabin? Waste not, want not 🙂

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          1. I wonder so many times how it must be to be a wild thing… a little spider or Daisy deer. I can’t imagine being so small and setting out on a carefree journey to somewhere unknown, and setting up a home wherever that could be. Exciting!

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          2. And terrifying! Imagine having to leave everything that you know to go someplace where you have no idea what is waiting for you. Nature is truly brave.

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  5. Wonderful post. I so look forward to hearing from you, Daisy and Spirit. I too dread summer’s end. We should all take time to look for the gossamer wings. It would be a better place for us all!

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    1. So good to hear from you, Barbara! I will have more to write about Daisy and Spirit in the next week! There is a lot of deer activity going on this time of year. And of course, Daisy and Spirit are my favorite subjects to write about!

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  6. Fall is a little depressing in that way, yeah! I wanted to go visit the ducks this week, Hippo said are the ducks even still here? Guess they’re not. You’re such an articulate person Lori 🙂 your posts make me all calm. I love spiderwebs.. and how they catch dew in the morning.

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    1. Oh, Anouchka, you always make me feel so good! Some of the ducks around here stay, while others migrate. It’s always amazing to me how all at once the birds disappear in late summer or early autumn. I suppose I will scrub and sanitize my bird baths next week and put them up for the winter. Daisy deer is the only one to frequent the bird baths now, and she doesn’t need to drink out of them. She has a whole bathtub down in the canyon to drink from. I spoil her with fresh water a couple of times a week! Yes, spider webs are cool… I see them everywhere in the woodlands. I’m usually lucky enough to have a couple of nice garden orbs set up webs in my flower beds. They are beautiful!

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  7. Gossamer, eh? This NY boy didn’t know what it was, but Judy from Iowa sure did. Nice photos, great post, as always. Daisy and Spirit…..it does not get any better.

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    1. I know Mike! Moving on this little piece of land was the best thing FD and I ever did! Is Judy a farm girl? Midwestern gals are something special, eh? I include Daisy and Spirit in the “gals” remark too! Life here is pretty special… I’m thankful every day for that.

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      1. Judy is from Camanche which is right on the Mississippi, and floods frequently.She is not a farm girl but right behind her high school was a farm. She is endearingly sweet and consistent.

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  8. This was a wonderful post for many reasons! I especially enjoyed the analogy.
    “be free to float in the warm air to an unknown destination”
    Just makes me want to be a little spiderling. 🙂

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  9. Lori, I too feel wistful with the departure of summer and the onset of autumn with its shortening days. Autumn does have its compensations – more settled mellow weather and the glow of autumn colours. Castlemaine is particularly beautiful in autumn with its array of deciduous trees.

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    1. Margaret, I do hope you’ll be drawing a scene from Castlemaine during the autumn season! Your drawings reflect so much depth to nature… I feel like I’m right there, basking in the wonderment of it all!

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  10. Once again, you’ve introduced me to a part of nature I never knew. The whole idea of little spiders launching into the Void makes me happier than anything that’s crossed my path in ages. Thank you. Lori.

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    1. Thank you Sandy. It’s a fairly amazing journey when you think about it. So many times I long to run with Daisy deer, not having a plan or a reason to do anything. I especially love laying beside her under the stars, listening to the night noises. To imagine being a tiny spider floating along in the vast sky headed to parts unknown… I just can’t think how exciting that would be!

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    1. I will be writing more about the deer. There has been a lot of activity lately… Scarlet has twins again this year and she and Daisy have been going at it hoofing! Never a dull moment here!

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  11. Isn’t it funny how winter is viewed as a dark, depressing, soul-crushing season when its role is that of a period of renewal and rebirth?
    Your post has once again reminded me of the beauty of nature and the wonder of all the seasons. Thank you, my friend.

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    1. Ah, Mr. Hook… you speak so eloquently! There truly is beauty and wonder in each season. I am always happy to share experiences from my neck of the woods with so many wonderful friends!

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  12. What a wonderfully reflective post — every walk in nature does reveal a new gift or detail unnoticed before. Your words brought to life the photos, easily visualizing those gossamer floats.

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  13. Lovely blog and as most would comment, beautiful photos of the deer. The boy has grown to a handsome young buck. Not to thrilled about spiders but know they can be quite interesting. Read research on the spiders who knit those strings and send themselves propelling on air currants like parachutting spiders. If a spider catches a perfect trans-atlantic air current they have been documented to become trans-continental travelers. Having borded the Spider 747 Airlines on the Jersey Shores (for example) and disembarked to have a new start in Paris, France (for example). Really, some spiders have been known to go that far, especially (for a good time). Now, if I could only train the majority of the spiders around here to take such a permanent vacation. But, alais I have my one lonely chicken who seems to keep bug control at the cost of room and board only.

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    1. Ha ha!! I love that! The chicken being the terminator at your home! I have been letting my mother-in-laws chickens roam the property while she is on a small vacation. They are hilarious to watch run, chasing what’s left of the insect population this time of year. What a delight they are. I didn’t like spiders or snakes much when we moved here, but I have learned to appreciate them in our ecosystem. I can’t believe the lengths I go to, assuring the spiders and snakes are kept alive. I try to leave them be where they’ve set up housekeeping!

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  14. Lori ,
    And yet ANOTHER great observation for your forthcoming book ! Check out the animated movie, ” Charlotte’s Web ” , about a Momma spider and her relationship with a farm pig. Near the end there’s a scene exactly like what you saw. OK , get your hankies out…
    Now, to hit a moving target ( butterfly , spider , humming bird ,grasshopper, etc. ) , know that they almost always follow a ” flight pattern “. Don’t try to follow them up and down , or walk/run across a field trying to get that MILLION $$$ shot. Extremely hard to do and you might trip over something and hurt yourself. As I said, they have a pattern, so focus on a particular flower where they fed before. Use a tripod with a cable release or else, place your finger on the button, ready to shoot. Focus tightly on the plant where the subject will land/ feed.. Push GENTY to avoid blurriness . Do not jerk the camera. Your camera should have a setting for multiple shots ,( expressed as ” 4 fps.- 4 frames per second. Click. Click. Click, Click . It costs nothing to delete the ones you don’t like). The bee or butterfly ( or others ) will revisit it and you will already be set up. Patience. Patience. Patience. If the breeze moves the flower, take the shot. You might get the butterfly BEFORES it lands. Interesting pic with the butterfly / hummer in sharp focus while the flower is a bit blurry. And as far as the spider webs go , carry a small sprayer of water with you to mist the web , esp. in early morn.. Will look like diamond in the morning sun.. Also you can mist the plant to make it look like morning dew , esp. on a cloudy day. High noon sun is too harsh ( ‘Member I taught you about SPECULAR lighting ? Yeah, you ‘member. I ‘member , even though I haven’t done a lot of shooting lately. Wonder why ? ). You can also create a little pool by pouring a tiny amt. of water on a depression on a rock and somebody will come by for a drink…
    Get some old copies of National Geographic and study / dissect their photos of plants and animals. You already have a great shooting eye. This will sharpen your skills even further.
    One time as I was going to do laundry in some apt. where l lived my sad and lonely pathetic bachelor life, I saw a spider feeding on a moth. WHAM !! I dropped the basket and went inside to get my camera .Set up and got really good pictures. The moth had large dark brown spots on its wings that looked like big ‘ol eyes.I could see the fangs piercing the body. Got my shots and let Nature take its course.
    Another time, Maria and I were taking a break on the brick patio I laid down in the backyard, (Nancy Derrig and Sandee, have been here for a B-B-Q ) And we saw this long stem really swaying, more that just the breeze. A BRIGHT GREEN SNAKE ! I told Maria, ” Watch my snake ! ”
    and ran into the house to fetch my camera. Came back and sat on a chair turned backwards to place my arms on the back for better steadiness.. Found where the snake was now and proceeded to snap away. Maria was cool in that she didn’t run away screaming.
    OK, I need you correct address to send you something.
    Be good .And if you can’t be good, be good at it….
    Roger

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    1. Thanks for the advice, Rog. I read Charlotte’s Web in grade school and I have seen the movie. And don’t worry, I’m not usually up to follow insects around too much! I have to be fairly cautious about poison ivy in the canyon, not to mention not getting tripped up on a vine or wild honeysuckle. I appreciate all of the photography tips. Mostly, I need to be better about going to the house to get the camera, or carry it with me more often. One of these days I hope to just kick back and observe, instead of running around doing a gazillion things all day long!

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    1. Oh, it’s so good to hear from you! Thank you for the compliment on the photos… Daisy and Spirit always make photography fun! So far, we are having a spectacular autumn season. The colors are slow to turn and every day is a pretty picture! I’m glad you are back! I look forward to seeing your next post, my lovely friend!

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  15. Fall greetings Sundog! I have been reading about your adopted deer Daisy…how did you come to have her as a tame (sort of) deer? Will you eventually collar her fawn, Spirit to also protect her from hunters? That is wonderful that you did that for Daisy! 🙂
    Chris ( friend of Cecilias from her blog )

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    1. Thank you so much Chris! Daisy was an orphan when we found her. We turned her loose when she was old enough to fend for herself in the wild. She has always come to us so we have been able to collar her. Her fawn, Spirit, will come near us but is not tame enough to let us touch her. You may look at the other stories about Daisy if you do a “search” of Daisy deer on the front page of my blog. She has become quite interesting to people all around the world. We think she’s very special!

      Thanks so much for stopping by! Cecilia is a very special friend, isn’t she?

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  16. I will do that, it’s always so much fun to read about people’s relationships with animals other than the usual dog and cat variety! I once had a pet crow, so that was fun and very interesting! I’m also following a blog of a woman in Wyoming that has a “pet” coyote she rescued as an infant whose parents were shot by sheep ranchers. Have you seen it? Her photos are extraordinary!
    Any yes, Cecilia is indeed very special! 🙂 You have a lovely week!

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