Earlier his week while I was walking around the church yard, I spotted a common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) in bloom. Michael (a youngster in our congregation) was tagging along, and he spotted this goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia) on the plant before I did.

Goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia)

Goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia)


These spiders have the ability to change their color from white to yellow, and all shades in between. They will typically match the color of the petals, but I have seen them match the color of a flower’s styles as well. Tricky little beasts they are!

Here are some other shots I have taken this week.

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)

Cow wheat (Melampyrum lineare)


Pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum)

Pipewort (Eriocaulon aquaticum)


Yet Another Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Yet Another Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)


Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata)

Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata)


St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)

St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)


My week has been a little off. On Sunday we took Beth up to Maine for summer camp. We haven’t heard from her since then, which feels pretty weird. I have enjoyed the quiet, but I have missed my little girl! I will go fetch her on Sunday.

I’ve been riding my bicycle some this week. Wednesday I got it out and turned left out of my driveway to ride straight up a long, steep hill. It goes up and up and up for about a mile. That will take the wind out of any guy with too much tummy. The ride down was over in an instant though.

One of the things I want to be able to do is ride my bike into Franklin and then back. Not that there’s anything so great about Franklin – it’s just a destination.

When I got home I looked at some topographic maps with the idea that if I had turned right (downhill) out of my driveway instead of left (uphill), and then hung two more rights, I would be on Oak Hill Road, which also goes to Franklin, but it is closer to the river. I figure that since it’s closer to the river, it should have less in the way of hills. The topo confirmed this.

So on Thursday, I figured go I’d try going that route, although not all the way to Franklin. Instead, I was planning to do a circuit. The problem is that Oak Hill is connected to Shaw Rd (where I live) by Gile Rd, and that road climbs 60 meters in about a kilometer – 200 ft in a half mile. That is one steep, hill. It’s basically the sum of the hill I went up on Wednesday, plus the hill I’d go down leaving my driveway. But I did it anyhow. That climb was brutal. The circuit was 8.3 miles, which is pretty much all I can do when there are 10% uphill grades involved.

I did it again today.

I think when Beth gets back, we may have to try the trip to Franklin. If we stick to Oak Hill Rd, I think we can manage it. Especially if we stop for ice cream when we get to Franklin.

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Tonight Beth had a piano recital. I can’t remember the name of the first song she played, but it was composed by F. J. Hayden.

Beth playing Hayden

Beth playing Hayden

Of course I heard her play this song about 900 times over the past two months, and at every tempo imaginable. I bought her a metronome (same day I bought David a guitar), and she would set it insanely slow and play along. Then she’d set it insanely fast and play it that way too. All that practice must have helped, because she nailed it tonight.

Her second piece was “Bless Be the Ties That Bind” which had received similar metronome treatment. That was the finale for the recital (there were about eight kids there total).

Rewinding the day a bit…

Jonathan and I worked an hour later tonight, then hit Taco Bell for dinner. He dropped me off at the church to wait for Va and Beth while he went on to his class. I took a few photos while I waited. The first thing I noticed was that the milkweed was in bloom:

Ladybug on a Milkweed Bloom

Ladybug on a Milkweed Bloom


On that same cluster of blossoms there was a menace biding her time:
Goldenrod Spider in Waiting

Goldenrod Spider in Waiting


The spider didn’t seem to happy that I showed up and started poking around with a lens. I think she thought I was going to blow her cover. But I didn’t. The beetle never seemed to notice. I moved on before any drama began. If you look closely at the ladybug shot, you can see this spider lurking at the lower right. Cool.

There was lots of crown vetch in bloom too. I liked this shot:

Crown Vetch (Securigera varia)

Crown Vetch (Securigera varia)

Tonight when I was walking about the yard taking pictures, I came across some dewberries. These look all the world like strawberries to me, only the fruits turn out looking exactly like blackberries. Indeed, I can’t tell dewberries from strawberries when they’re in flower. That’s something I’m going to have to work on.

Anyhow, I took this shot:

Crab spider disguised as a style

Look closer

Apparently, I had to get pretty close to the flower to get this shot. I was looking through my photos tonight when I stopped on this one and thought, “The styles on that dewberry look positively weird.” And then I noticed a little growth in the center. It didn’t take long to realize then that those weren’t styles at all – it’s a crab spider! I was right on top of this thing taking its picture, and I didn’t notice it.

This is why it’s a good idea to not delete photos straight off the camera.

Misumena vatia in love?

Misumena vatia in love?


Here’s a picture I took today. I’m pretty sure the large white spider is a Goldenrod Spider (Misumena vatia). I’m not positive, but I think she is being courted by a male of the same species. Either that, or she is a Goliath being attacked by a David of a different species.

This picture could have been fantastic, as when I first saw this pair, she had a paralyzed honey bee in her jaws. As I got into position to take the picture though, she dropped it 😦

This is the first and only shot I got of this trio cum duo. While I was diddling around with the camera, the spiders dropped down and hid under a leaf (from Aralia nudicaulis if you must know). The flower they are on is a false Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosa).

The first time I ever saw one of these spiders was sometime last year when I found one on a yarrow flower. The really cool thing about these is that they possess the chameleon-like ability to change color. They are almost impossible to see when they do that, as their color matches the flower they are stalking. They can go from white (like this one) to a deep golden yellow (when they are hunting on say… goldenrod).

Last year and this year, I didn’t see the spider at all when I approached the plant, but rather, I saw their victims (a wasp last year). I will be checking on this girl in the future too, in hopes of getting a really nice photo. But whether I can or not remains to be seen!