Life on the desert

So I'd been inside all day, doing bills and other assorted clerical necessities, and enough was enough. It was perfect outside, about 78, light breeze. In short, just another awesome day in Droughton. It was time to get on up in the hills of Spanish Springs east of Pyramid Highway and just walk around, move ye olde glutes and stuff, see what the heck is goin' on and get out of this slug mode.

I got on up to a familiar, lonely spot and parked on the roadside. Weather here is even nicer, if that's possible. But boy, these hillsides, usually filled with some kind of bloom in mid-May and sometimes a really big bloom, are exhibiting all the floral charm of the Bonneville Salt Flat. Eeesh. Welcome to Parched Heights, a desiccating suburb of Droughton. Well, just because the wildflower show is gonna be skimpy is no excuse to skimp on the exercise.

My walk revealed that my suspicions about a sub-par wildflower experience were pretty much spot on. It's just one of those years where a lot of plants germinated and started up, but then, when they needed a few showers in late April and early May to keep things rollin', those rains just didn't happen. C'est la vie.

But one would be wise to realize that just about every time you head on out to the desert, at least one wild thing will be discovered/happen that will truly be interesting for those with naturalist tendencies. Many times, it's only one thing that occurs, but, if you're paying attention, you'll get at least that one. Obviously, any kind of natural beauty moment wasn't gonna be supplied by wildflowers. Not today. But damned if I didn't stumble on to … What the—well, I do believe I've traipsed on in to Spiderville.

Strewn throughout most of this treeless, rocky hillside were dozens of webby homes, the homes of certain desert wolf spiders. There were lots of 'em. LOTS. It was pretty freakin' cool, actually. If you're an arachnaphobe, it would have been instantly uncool. To the max. As I'm not saddled with that phobia, though, I was instantly struck by the fact that, yep, here's my interesting thing for the day. The webs were of the low to the ground variety, a small whitish blanket of 3 to 6 inches in diameter with a spiralling black hole in the center. And at the bottom of that black hole is this rather elegant, slender wolf spider, not all that big, just hangin' out and waiting for food to get snagged. When you say someone has the patience of a spider, you're saying something. (Then, I thought of Saddam Hussein in his spider hole.)

It was quite the complex. Spiderville, indeed. Obviously, things have been going quite well in Spiderville for quite some time. I'm guessing we could say the same about many bug-based economies. Them bugs seem to do real good on an annual basis when it comes to replenishing the supply of bugs. And that's good, since there is always a steady demand for new bugs out there in The Food Chain.