The world is full

I didn't spot this spider at first, and I bet the wasp didn't either. Crab spider by Jeffrey C. Oliver, CC by SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I didn’t spot this spider at first, and I bet the wasp didn’t either.
Crab spider by Jeffrey C. Oliver, CC by SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” 
W. B. Yeats

Awhile back we had an interesting discussion with Boomdee in the comments after she mentioned the rabbits in her world changing colors with the seasons. Until then, I didn’t know about the Snowshoe Hare, which turns white in winter as a form of camouflage in snowy areas. I was enchanted to think of a rabbit that changes color, because I’d never heard of one doing that before. My experience with color-changing animals is pretty much limited to small lizards.

Apparently, rabbits don’t need that flexible sort of camouflage to flourish in Virginia.  They are everywhere, and usually I notice them by the way that they move. Not always, though.

One gorgeous evening last spring I went out to make a quick film clip of the world as it looked from our little porch in Alexandria.  The birds were singing and the azaleas were blooming, and the little creek behind our home was making that lovely rushing sound that always comes after a nice rainfall.  With all this to distract me, I didn’t notice what was hiding in plain sight until I watched the clip nine months later.  See if you spot what I missed (the pause button helps):

Let’s take a cue from Sherlock Holmes and sharpen our senses to see what else we are missing.  What secrets might nature be hiding in your neighborhood?


  1. Ann

    After several viewings, I finally spotted the surprise in the video. You’re right, the pause button helps as does enlarging the video to full screen.
    I saw my first hummingbird of the season yesterday! Feeding on one of my red camellias, still in bloom!

    • A hummingbird, how wonderful! They are a rare sight for us. I have had a hummingbird feeder for years but never took the time to fill it and put it out. I really should do that, and hope for some traffic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one feeding on a camellia. That would make a great photo.

  2. Good morning, Julia! So here I am, playing “where’s Waldo” with your photo and still-blurry morning eyes – cleaned the reading glasses, blowing the photo up more and more until – AAAAHRG! There’s an enormous venomous arachnid, inches from my face!
    Whew! (I was almost afraid to watch your following video ….!)
    But I’m awake now! Nice work! 😉
    Yesterday there was a flock of wild turkeys in my back yard. I didn’t get any real good photos, though, because 1. My camera batteries were charging so I used my phone, and 2. I was wearing a bright burgundy shirt, so they had no trouble noticing me, right away!
    Ok. Score is:
    Wildlife – 2
    Susan – 1 (I did see your cute visitor in the video!)
    Thanks for the fun this morning!

    • Susan, here I was thinking wild turkeys (or any other kind) only show up in the autumn, around Thanksgiving time. I guess that’s what comes of too many bulletin board displays in childhood. The wild turkeys I tried to photograph while we were in Tennessee last fall seemed quite indignant that I would have the nerve to disturb them with my pesky camera. I’m not surprised your shirt spoiled the photo ops. That’s not a bad score, though– especially considering that, as the old saying goes, “nature always bats last.” 😀 I wish you some happy outdoor surprises this week! Our weather here is fabulous and supposed to remain so for a few days.

  3. blseibel

    Ahhh, so much beauty in God’s creation. Some so subtle the hurried miss it. I’m hurried with packing and moving, but having to take the puppy out for potty breaks gives me time to enjoy nature and now it’s warmer so it is a double win.

    Why do we love bunnies so? There are so many cute animals but bunnies just melt your heart.

    • B, with regard to the bunnies — I was thinking about that while walking recently. I think it must be those perfectly round, liquid eyes and that ability to go from zero to sixty in a flash — to hold perfect stillness (except for some quivering whiskers) until we take that last step one step too close, and then ZOOM! Even the way they hop away is endearing and fun to watch.

      Many times over the years, while Jeff has been out mowing, he’s stopped and called me outdoors to see a tiny baby bunny, no bigger than my fist, that he spotted in the grass. At such times I would always feel thankful that it wasn’t a yard service who might just mow over them. Now I worry about that. They are so cute and helpless.

      RE: the beauty of creation — I really think it’s one of those phenomena that expands to fill our ability to appreciate it. I often complain that work (or clutter or other annoyances) expands to fill the time or space available, but the good part is that good things do the same. We never reach a limit with the beauty of nature. It expands whether we look outward to distant vistas, or inward, right down to the microscopic level. It’s amazing to me (and a bit frightening) that even things we dread, such as cancer cells, have their own strange beauty when seen through a microscope. Having said that, I can’t quite appreciate some aspects of nature — eels, ticks, slugs, etc. so I guess everything has limits!

      • I had to laugh regarding mowing around bunnies. I have that problem with frogs sometimes. I shout at them “get out of the way! Keep moving! No, west, WEST!” It takes longer to mow the yard that way, but at least there’s no carnage. And I’m sure the neighbors are entertained!

        • What amazes me is that you know which direction is West without a sign pointing it out. I would only be able to tell that if the sun was visible, and then only if it was before about 10 am or after about 2 p m, in which case I might be able to get it close to correct. On behalf of your frogs and other helpless critters, I thank you for taking the time to avoid hurting them. I love frogs, turtles and lizards. They have a flashing “I EAT BUGS” sign that I see when I look at them. OK, so I have less sympathy for bugs…except for ladybugs…but I don’t gratuitously kill them either. I’m one of those clowns who actually takes bugs outside and lets them go, if I find them indoors. Excepts for gnats, flies, roaches and some particularly sinister-looking spiders. But I digress…

  4. There are many Alaskan animals that change colors with the seasons to camouflage with the snow: bunnies, foxes, etc. 😉

    • Foxes! WOW. This just gets more and more interesting. Alaska certainly seems to have drawn more than its share of wondrous sights. I love the way foxes look. One thing I love about Schipperkes is that their face is so like a fox face.

      • I too love foxes. I’ve always found them fascinating since seeing a couple here in the city dashing around buildings a few years ago. The Artic fox is the one that turns a pure beautiful white in winter. But I want to say the Red Cross fox does too (from something I vaguely remember when the local zoo brought a fox to visit a classroom I was subbing in at the time). I only recently learned about Fennec foxes (a desert fox, not local to Alaska) which I think is adorable because of its huge ears (which are huge to help it cool down in the dessert). 🙂

        • I had never heard of Fennec foxes until your comment, but I looked them up and they definitely are adorable. I had no idea foxes changed colors too! I bet a white fox is gorgeous. WOW, foxes in the city! Amazing. I seldom ever see one, even in more rural areas.

          • I just saw “Zootopia” this last week at the movie theater and I almost jumped out of my seat when I recognized a fennec fox. =)

            • Would you believe I had to look that movie up to see what it was about? WOW, it looks like fun! Now that you’ve told me about the fennec fox I’ll simply have to be sure and see it! BTW I got the most delightful surprise in the mail yesterday. 😀 😀 😀 Tea, anyone?

              • Yeah! I’m glad it arrived. 😉

                • Not half as glad as I am 😀 😀 :D.

  5. Cute! I would have missed it too if you hadn’t pointed it out. I frequently take photos in the garden, only to discover later a spider right under my nose. I’ve never seen this white variety and what a great capture. I’m secretly rooting for the wasp as they are so good for the garden, but then spiders are good for the garden too. Perhaps they had a chat and agreed to wait for a garden pest to come along instead. Fleas and tics are probably just as tasty.

    • Alys, what a fun thought! I didn’t realize wasps were good for the garden. Even hornets and yellow jackets? The sight of their paper nests strikes terror into my heart. I accidentally dug into an underground jacket nest a couple of years ago, and though I was wearing heavy gloves, one got under the glove and repeatedly stung me. WHOA, talk about misery. I have an even sharper fear of them now, so I’m glad to know they are useful. I do tend to see spiders as being mostly helpful, as long as they stay outdoors. 😀

  6. I think I would sit on your back deck all day long and listen to that! I saw the bunny as you panned quickly by ….. 🙂 Isn’t it delightful all that green? The sound of the water and the birds ………… I hear traffic and voices here in this inner city suburb and must walk or drive to find my green and birdsong – and blue Pacific water.

    • Pauline, that back porch and deck are my favorite things about our Alexandria home. We had that paver porch installed because I could not bear for that lovely view of green leaves and the sound of the creek to go to waste, but it was too muddy and dirty for me to enjoy it until we created a little dry spot for ourselves. Very few of our neighbors do anything with the area under their decks, which is a mystery to me. The ones who do usually install tall fences for privacy, but I am unwilling to give up seeing that little spot of greenery and the birds and rabbits and even deer who drop by. (It also looks quite lovely in the snow). No fence could compete with that.

  7. Amy

    WOW!! I love the photo and the video. I had to have Aaron point out the spider but I found the bunnie. I love to watch my yard and spend a good amount of time doing it. I have seen foxes and deer and bunnies. I love the frogs and turtles in spring and summer. You are welcome to come and watch a while with me. I’ll have tea.

    • Amy I love the way your home sits back in what feels like a nature preserve. The new houses nearby are gorgeous but I sort of miss the feeling that you are living in “the Big Woods” as it seemed in the beginning. Now that you have the back porch we can sit out there and watch the critters. And pop inside for ice cream now and then. It’s funny about that video — when I went back to watch it I said “hey, what is that in the yard?” I thought it was a piece of cardboard or other trash. Imagine my delight when I found out I was being watched as I filmed that little clip!

  8. MaryAnn

    What an exciting promise of joy to ensue! My mission is to “stop & smell the roses” with a higher purpose! Thank you, Julia! Think of you & your precious family with love very often!

    • Thank you Mary Ann. I think you have a real gift for spotting roses, as well as pausing to enjoy them. I can’t imagine that you are ever bored at all. I love that in a person. We love and miss you too!

  9. an early Easter bunny!

    • Yes, he’s clearly scoping out the territory…word must be out in the rabbit world that Easter comes early this year!

  10. Ann

    When I saw the photo above, it took me a long time to see the spider. Now, the spider is the first thing I notice. This should lead to a profound comment or comparison but I can’t come up with one. Maybe someone else has had the same experience or maybe I just need more coffee!

    • Ann, I can’t think of a profound way to put it, but I know what you mean. I think there are even psychological studies to back it up. Something along the lines of our being quicker to see what we expect to see, than to see something we aren’t expecting. Even our vision is influenced by our preconceived notion and biases, it seems. But a little coffee never hurts, regardless. 😀

  11. Julia, I think I saw him on the lawn.

    • Yep! Those long brown ears are a giveaway.

  12. I couldn’t tell if it was a bunny or a duck. Don’t see all that well anyway but saw something. Spiders are sneaky and make themselves invisible. We need all of that but too much of a good thing is not good. 😦 Hate spiders, wasps and most snakes. But I leave them alone for the most part because they are necessary. Somewhere else. 🙂 You have a wonderful back yard.

    • It was a bunny. A duck might have been more fun, since I’ve never had one visit me in Alexandria, and bunnies are quite common. I totally share your feelings about spiders, wasps and snakes. A necessary part of our world, but one I’d just as soon not think much about. I’m glad you like my little back yard! Pull up one of those chairs (in your imagination, if you can’t visit the east coast anytime soon) and let’s chat over a cup of tea. The azaleas will be back in bloom soon. 🙂

      • I have one azalea here and it hasn’t bloomed since I moved in. It needs help. I think it hates those creosote railroad ties that are used to retain the hill as much as I do. Will get my deck finished this spring, hopefully. 🙂 Have a wonderful day.

        • Oh dear, I hate it when azaleas don’t bloom! I planted two in our “lower 40” that never bloomed and I decided they must not get as much sun as they wanted. But I see them growing wild and blooming like crazy in woodland areas, so it must be the variety. I moved one of them to a sunnier spot after about 5 years of no blooms, and it took off and grew and bloomed like crazy. So, you might try planting it someplace else if you can find a place that would work. Supposedly they love shade but it seems to me that even the shade-loving plants do better with at least a bit of sun. Hope you are having a great week! Giant hugs!

          • Thanks, Julia. I’ve been thinking of moving it several times. The creosote planter area is not the best for most plants. I’ve moved a lot already. Giant hugs.

            • I wonder whether you would have better success with container plants in that spot? Best of luck with the relocation.

  13. Michael

    The pause button did help and it may have been an Easter visitor. I will have to send you a picture I took from the deck of the cabin. It also includes a nearly invisible visitor who seems to think he owns the place. His cousin is standing nearby. Of course in real life, we don’t get a pause button- but maybe that is what prayer is supposed to be.
    I ran across this quote per the discussion on losing from Henry .Ford ,”Losing gives you an opportunity to try again with morre intelligence.”

    • Yes, do send a photo of your visitors. I just love it when the critters think they own the place. Of course they say the same about us, I’m sure, in their own animal way. What a neat idea about prayer being a pause button. I never thought about it before, but that’s really what it is, in so many ways. Henry Ford’s quote is a forerunner of what Samuel Beckett said.

  14. Michael

    I checked with the author’s web-site “Wheedle in the Needle.” For 1oo dollars a half an hour he can discuss “Your project” with you. Seems a little exorbitant. I will look for a children’s book writing workshop.

    • Yes, I’d be very careful. The world of publishing (or trying to publish) as with so many other industries, is full of false promises and people out to make a buck. Having said that, if you are interested in children’s publishing, you might want to explore the website, meetings and other resources offerec by SCBWI ( They are a highly regarded organization with many successful authors who are quite generous with their advice to newcomers. I have never heard anything bad about them, only rave reviews from everyone who is involved, and my own (admittedly limited) experiences with them have been quite rewarding.

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