Something gossamer

I suppose because it is early spring, eggs are hatching and life is abundant.

I saw the first one on the way to my school’s library before nearly hitting it face-first. It was very small, very skinny, and it was dangling in the air from an invisible thread. The pale worm was just spinning and squirming in the air in a sort of graceful frenzy. Mesmerized, I blocked the walkway for a full minute or two before attempting to take a picture so I could share this strange miracle of nature. I could never get it right, though: the sun was too bright, the worm blended in with the background, my shadow obstructed the view. I couldn’t capture it, but I wouldn’t forget it.

Shortly, I found myself walking behind a tall boy wearing a Giants baseball cap turned backwards when I saw a shimmery line of reflected light blink behind him. I thought it was a spider’s web strung somewhere above us in the trees, but when I saw a glint again it was evident that there was a thread of something gossamer trailing from the cap. I was intrigued.

Naturally, the good Samaritan I am, I casually reached out to wave it off. The guy heard my irregular steps, turned around, and, unimpressed by my sheepish, incoherent explanation, veered swiftly into a building. I looked at my fingers against the afternoon sunlight to check if I’d obtained what I was after. Nothing. Funny how the things you can see but can’t feel don’t get nearly as much attention as the things you can feel but can’t see. Maybe feeling, then, is believing.

I saw the second one while I was filling out the health survey prior to donating blood. It was thicker than the previous worm, and browner. It had crawled up onto my wrist from my sleeve, tentatively peering at this unfamiliar landscape. I promptly went outside to coax it onto a nearby tree’s leaf, wishing it luck, and feeling sorry that it was being deposited in a place that most likely was not home.

I saw the third worm as I was delivering duplicates to the Social Studies department. It was an orange color, again hanging in the air, rotating as it climbed up. The breeze blew at it, and the worm was pushed back and forth, around and around. I strained to keep track of it, swiveling my head and doing a little dance myself. Somehow it hung on, and even made considerable progress up in the air. I don’t know how it got to be so far down this thread in the first place, but I was impressed at its determination and how unaware or uncaring of my watchful presence.

The last worm was near the parking lot, this time green and slim. I stood staring at it go, spinning, spinning, climbing, climbing.

At first I pitied the worms each stuck in their precarious vertical limbo. Gravity, cruel winds, inattentive (or diabolically sadistic) humans were powerful forces acting against them. Still, their spastic ascents on gossamer lifelines is surely a simpler and more beautiful version of our own individual climbs. I should give the worms more credit. They don’t have digital watches or political structures or language or culture, but at least these spiraling creatures have a clear idea of where they’re headed.


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