Friday, October 16, 2020

Another Little Chatt

The little kids wanted nothing more than to go back to the Chattahoochee today with their big sisters, who were free from things like birthday cake baking and basement restorations and were happy to take a break to go rambling in the woods, so things worked out well for everyone. They were all hoping to get to splash around in the water a bit but, like I mentioned, things were a little more floody than yesterday.

Benjamin dashed ahead on the trail, showing the girls the way to "The Little Bay of Fundy," as he calls his new favourite swimming hole. Unfortunately, I could tell the creek was too swollen for much wading, so we skipped it today (it would have been up to Zoë's chest, which is just a little too deep when things are swelling in and out of a raging river, at least for me).

Instead we went into the field with the fallen trees and played around a bit. My sister Kelli sent Alexander a set of walkie-talkies for his birthday so the kids had fun seeing how far they could go while staying in range of each other, and then they left us one of the walkie-talkies while they went over to "Paradise" with the other. 

Alexander coloured while I read a chapter in my book. Here he is showing off his sweetgum ball and the drawing he made of it (the start of the unicorn was done by Zoë, but Alexander drew the little person):

The kids would send messages every now and again and Alexander would answer back. Sometimes Alexander would send a message to the kids but usually his messages were for the walkie-talkie itself and it would go something like this, "Sorry, kids. This message isn't for you. It's for my walkie-talkie. Walkie-talkie! You fell down!"

It just didn't couldn't balance on the table very well, poor thing, so the kids off adventuring got an update on every single time the walkie-talkie fell over.

Eventually the kids came to get us so they could show us all the things they'd found in "Paradise." The magnolia trees are putting out their seeds right now, which really are quite beautiful. They look like bright red jellybeans and they pop out of little capsules on a beautiful pink seed pod, and plop down onto the forest floor.

Here's Zoë with a feather and a seed pod:

Here's Alexander with a seed and a seed pod:

Here's Miriam with a seed pod from last year (or before) being digested by some fungi:

Like a tiny little world:

Here's Rachel working one of the walkie-talkies on the mossy hillside:

Here's Zoë working on climbing a tree:

Here's Alexander wondering about some...thing...?

Here's Benjamin deep in a magnolia tree:

Here's Zoë trying to get into another tree:

We gave her a little boost onto the first branch and then she got herself up to the higher branches:

Here she is clinging, for dear life, onto the highest branch she climbed to:

Which, again, for the record, she climbed to by herself:

And here she is having decided that there was no possible way she would ever be able to climb down from the tree:

We got her down from the tree safely, of course, and then she spent some time closer to the ground...

...while the older kids spent some time higher up.

On our way back through the woods Alexander and I spotted a gigantic spider. We had to call the kids back to look at it (they were much farther along the trail than we were because, well, Alexander is a dawdler). I have been looking for one of these beauties for a while since they've been making headlines all over Georgia. They're jorō spiders, native to Japan, having arrived in Georgia on a shipping container in 2014 or so. 

They're spreading rapidly through Georgia, but every orb weaver web I checked this summer always housed an ordinary local orb weaver. Not that that should really be all that upsetting. I mean, I should be rooting for an invasive species. But although our orb weavers get big and can be beautifully coloured, I've heard the jorō is simply massive and very impressively coloured. The reports were not exaggerated.

These spiders are huge—apparently than get get to be four inches or so (apart from their legs)—and they are a lovely yellow. Many local orb weavers are yellow, too, but they lack the red on their ventral side. I didn't get a good shot of the ventral (under-) side of this joro spider either (to be fair, I didn't get a very good shot of it at all; it was a little too high in the tree for me), but you can see a little hint of its red underbelly in this photo. And we verified from the other side that it definitely has red on its belly.

This picture is a little clearer but you can't see as much of that hint of red.

I'm sure this won't be our last jorō sighting, but it was a pretty good first. I don't love spiders in my house or...on me...or near me...but I do think orb weavers are beautiful (and they're typically non-aggressive).

Anyway, it was a good follow up visit to the "Chatt," as Benjamin has been calling it. We thought these signs by our car were pretty funny—"annoying noises prohibited." We might need to get a sign like this to put up by our kitchen table.

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