I Saw Many Of These Funnel-Webs On The Bark Of The Hemlock Trees. They Seemed To Prefer Hemlock Over Other Species, Perhaps Because The Deep Fissures In The Bark Offered Good Protection. I Noticed That The Placement Of The Webs Was Not Random: Most Of The Spiders Chose To Build Directly Under A Knob Where A Branch Had Broken Off Long Ago. I Hypothesized That This Meager Roof Protected Their One And Only Web From Pelting Rain Or Blazing Sun.
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Nature Is Full Of Patterns Like This. Some Are Well Documented, And You Can Recognize Them From Someone Else’S Description, But It’S Most Rewarding To Discover Patterns Yourself. Pattern Recognition Is A Skill That Can Be Developed. Once You Have Identified A Pattern, You Can Then Take The Next Step And Hypothesize Why This Pattern Exists In Nature. Normally It Will Have Something To Do With Survival Of The Organism, Or At Least Survival Of Its Genes. Scientific Testing And Close Observation Are The Best Tools We Have For Determining Whether A Hypothesis Is Correct. I Could Have Easily Spent The Next Two Years Collecting Data To Support Or Refute My Hypothesis About The Webs, But I Had Other Plans.
I Searched For More Patterns And Noticed That Many Nettle Plants Had A Daddy Longlegs Perched On Them, Top And Center. What Was Happening Here? There Is So Much We Don’T Understand. There Is No Forest On Earth For Which We Have Finished Cataloging All Its Living Species, And Our Understanding Of All The Patterns And Relationships Is Even Less Complete. Discoveries Await Many Generations Of Scientists To Come. But The Earth Holds The Most Beautiful And Complex Jigsaw Puzzle There Is, And We Must Keep All The Pieces If We Ever Hope To Understand The Final Picture.
In His Blog The Hidden Forest, Jon Luoma Asks, “Can There Be Anything More Extraordinary Or Bizarre Or Perverse Than A Culture That Pours Its Resources Into The Study Of The Mystery Of Other Worlds, Even As It Fails To Take Far More Modest Steps To Uncover The Interwoven Wonders Of Life On Its Own?”
When I Enter An Old-Growth Forest, However Large Or Small, I Stay On The Paths At First. The Part Closest To The Parking Lot Always Gets The Most Use And Abuse So There, Especially, I Stick To The Trail. But To Really Feel Part Of These Wild Forests It Is Helpful To Occasionally Stray. After I Have Walked Off My Initial Excitement And Gathered My First Impressions, I Will Usually Look For A Quiet Spot Off The Trail Where I Can’T Be Seen. There I Will Sit And Experience Being An Animal Surrounded By An Intact Ecosystem. We Are Always Animals Supported By The Ecosystem, Of Course, But It Is Easy To Forget That Riding In A Vehicle Or Shopping At The Mall. Here, In The Forest, I Am Reminded Of My Wild, Ancient Lineage.
West Virginia – HISTORY
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