Spiders and Peas
Immediately upon waking on Thursday, I was greeted by the vulture who often occupies my bedpost, confirming and validating my suspicions that it’s not going to be okay. Coming off a two-day vacation, feeling the stress of being behind and guilt at having spent days relaxing, I lied in bed, pretending with all my might that it wasn’t yet time to wake and face the world. It was still quite dark, after all. Reluctantly, I checked my phone and confirmed my suspicions. 4:57. Not only is it time to wake up, the days are actually becoming shorter. Fuck. This, and the cool nights of late, serve as the perfect catalysts for the early stages of seasonal depression, and I traveled with my vulture friend for most of the morning, trying to shake off the blues and re-embody my daily and weekly routines.
Come early afternoon, having completed all of my other obligations for the day, I buried myself in the isolation of the pea hoop house. The plants which had served to mark time in the spring and early summer — as the vines rapidly climbed the trellising, flowered, then fruited into wonderful, crisp peas for our delight — now embodied stages of death and transformation. Absentmindedly, I crawled through the beds, removing the trellising clips and uprooting the crackling brown vines, enjoying the solitude of plot, and the whole of Field Notes Farm, which was otherwise unoccupied.
That turned out not to be the case. I looked down, after throwing one of thousands of clips into my 5-gallon bucket, and saw a huge, hairy yellow spider crawling spasmodically through the sea of clips. Annoyed at his change of scenery, abduction from his home, and the pieces of plastic falling from the sky, he tried and tried again to climb the bucket walls, making it halfway before falling again to the sea of clips below. After a few minutes, I took pity and tipped the bucket to let him crawl out. He did, and I skipped a couple plants, to put some distance between myself and the mean looking creature. Then my imagination got the best of me. Hmm, if he fell into the bucket, he could have just as easily fallen onto my head. What’s that poking into my back?
Suddenly, there were, quite literally, spiders everywhere. Next to my left hand, a tiny spider retreated frantically as I jerked my arm up, nearly as alarmed as he. Cobwebs coated my hat and aggravated my face. A cousin or brother to my yellow friend waited patiently in a plant ahead of me, surrounded by his immaculate dynasty of webbing. Soon, I was entrenched in the world of tiny insects, enthralled by the plethora of life around me as I proceeded through an otherwise mindless task. Scary as he was, that hairy spider had opened my eyes to a livelier and more interesting world than the one I’d previously occupied.
I stopped and opened up a neglected pod that had been left on the vine. What was once a juicy, tender and flavorful pea has become a hardened yellow seed. Yes, the plants have died, I realized, but this was just another stage of their circle of life. Left to their own devices, they would reproduce. Somehow, the spiders too will return in the spring to join us for another season. I sensed very little depression in that world of deadened peas and hairy spiders; only acknowledgement and acceptance of life as it is. What choice do we have, after all? Winter comes in spite of the greatest of our protestations. Somehow, I hope that all these lively reminders can moderate or mediate my own seasonal cycles, reminding me that, in spite of the early morning warnings of my vulture friend, we will most likely survive the shortening of days and harsh realities of winter, and return for another season, along with the peas and spiders.