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Ughhhh I had to run. It was only day five and I had to get out there and run, even though I was still sore from what was basically two days of intervals in a row (soccer game on Monday and then fartleks with the running group on Tuesday). But it was only day five and I had to run. Besides, Ryder had been acting crazy and I knew he wanted to get out of the house. I'd come home from work to find my travel-sized stick of Body Glide* shredded by the front door. Whoever says dogs are dumb is a liar: Ryder knows I haven't been home as much because I've been running (he'll also chew up pens and leave them by the door if he thinks I'm spending too much time at work or writing; I don't know how exactly he knows what I've been up to any given day, but he knows!) Not only did I feel guilty for running without him recently, but I felt guilty because these were the first few days where the temperature had dropped and Ryder's Siberian Husky sense was boiling up. Siberians are born to run: they are the marathoners of the canines, a "primitive" breed intended to haul light sleds long distances across the Siberian tundra, and as soon as the temperature starts to drop their urge to run kicks in, an insatiable itch which had just started to tickle Ryder.
Okay, so it was day five and if I didn't take my dog on a run he'd be pissed at me all night, so despite the mist that had rolled in as the sun set I pulled on reflective gear and a headlight, and Ryder and I headed out on a quick jaunt around the neighborhood.
We'd just moved to this neighborhood in the past month and I was still getting used to where all the side streets led and, more importantly, I was getting used to just how dark the neighborhood is. I've never seen a neighborhood where there is only one streetlight for the entire long street AND cul-de-sac, but such is the case for my new neighborhood. Generally I like it: light pollution is a real issue, it's more energy-efficient to have fewer lights, and it's good to stretch your night vision into the shadowy edges of the world and not just confine yourself to little spots of light. Still, since we were running and I wasn't 100% familiar with the turf I went with a headlamp for safety.
We cruised along at first, just getting into a pace. Ryder is the worst running partner (or best if you're trying to do hard intervals) because he usually has two settings: hard sprint or stop to pee on something. Tonight though he just seemed happy to stretch his legs, so we moved along at a good clip.
We had just turned down a side street I'd never ben on when I heard a rustle in the trees. I wanted to freeze, but Ryder eagerly pulled me along. We slowed to a walk so I could listen better to the rustle of leaves rather than my footsteps - the shh shhhh through the undergrowth sounded big, so I figured it was just deer. I flashed up my headlamp to have a look.
Fifty spots of light glinted back at me from the far bank of a ditch. I blinked, totally disoriented. They were the greenish glints of eyeshine, but there were so many glints, so small, and so close! I blinked again, shook my head, and looked once more, and some of the glittering points moved.
"Maybe it's the mist condensing as dew on the grass," I thought to myself, but here it was wooded and the ground was all covered in pine straw. Still, I knelt down to a point near my feet to see.
The ground was covered with spiders! I didn't even jump back; I was so surprised that I simply gawked. There must have been fifty, maybe a hundred spiders just in the small patch of light from my headlamp. I swung my light back and forth over the ground and hundreds more points of light glittered back at me.
Just then the deer crashed out of the underbrush and into someone's lawn where they sprinted down the property and behind a house. Ryder whined and pulled at his leash wanting to follow them, but I tugged him along to another cul-de-sac. This time I scanned the ground near the pavement with my light and was astonished by the number of eyes that glinted back. I wasn't so surprised that the eyeshines were there, or even that they were there times eight, but rather that there were so many bright points staring back at me. They were clumped together densely over entire lawns, as many as three or four spiders per square inch. A quick glance across one neatly mown front yard and the ground lit up like a sky full of stars - sparkling, glittering green-eyed spider stars.
Some lawns had more spider eyes than others; a section where ivy crept along the roadside was noticeably dark, while lawns with evenly mown grass lit up like Christmas trees on crack. It was almost blinding with all the light reflected back to me, and at times I couldn't believe the intense density, so I would stop while Ryder sniffed a mailbox post and I'd bend down to double check. Yup, still spiders. Dozens and dozens of spiders - all hairy brown wolf spiders perched still and alert in the grass. Thoughts like, "spider horde" and "army of spiders" flickered across my mind, and, looking at the lawns full of light, I was reminded of just how much the world is made up of things that are easily overlooked - like a huge, nocturnal life mass that must be there all the time, lurking, hidden, and unseen.
We finally doubled back and returned to my house just as the fog was rolling in so that wisps curled gently in front of my headlamp. I took a quick glance at my lawn. It lit up brightly from all the wolf spiders lying in wait, some as large as my thumb and some so small you could barely make them out against single blades of brown grass. I wasn't sure, but it seemed like my lawn was one of the brightest reflecting lawns in the neighborhood, and I wasn't sure whether I was glad to have all the arachnids waiting patiently to welcome me home or if I was unnerved by the horde of hidden things I'd just discovered. It was a little bit of both I decided, and I figured it was a good start to a bewitching October.