After an indoor labyrinth walk yesterday in Ponte Vedra, instead of heading home, I headed toward Guana Beach, called by the promise of remote beach and undisturbed beauty.
I needed a little “wild” time.
Guana River State Park is a mostly pristine coastal scrub ecosystem, according to the signs in the parking lot at the third beach entrance (my favorite because it’s the most remote). As I headed to the beach from almost empty parking lot, I paused and observed the wildness of the brush along the walkway.
That’s when I spotted an enormous black-and-yellow garden spider making its web. I marveled at its giant body nimbly sliding down long threads and then picking its way back up again, completely absorbed in its work.
My face was about 18 inches away, and when a breeze blew the web a bit closer, I found myself stepping back — and then noticed an even bigger spider, with an even more fortified web, sitting quietly in the middle of a long zig-zag of threads. This one was about 4 inches long, the other was about 3 inches. And, there were two more “smaller” spiders (two inches) hanging nearby (I later learned these were males).
It was a little bit of wild, right under my nose.
Satisfied by this glimpse of wildness, I continued to the beach, which was sprinkled with just a few folks. I noticed the dappled sand, still imprinted with the many drops of the recent hard rain. The waves ran up to the roughness, tickled it, and then ran back. Two plovers walked in the water just ahead, keeping a wary eye on me.
I took a few pictures and thought, I should tag these, “#OhYeah! #ILiveAtTheBeach!” I felt grateful to be there.
Back in the parking lot, still wanting a bit more wild, I got closer to a cardinal singing its evening song at the top of a dead branch among the salt-curved tree tops. Then I walked to the edge of the parking lot, looking for more interesting wild stuff.
I found it.
In the most remote corner, I saw another giant spider, this one even bigger, building its web. Behind it was another, and then another, and then another, and I suddenly realized, Oh my God, there are hundreds of them, covering every few feet of the wild scrub under the oak trees! This is a truly wild and remote corner. THIS is what wild nature looks like!
Maybe spiders horrify you. (Remember the song, “I Don’t Like Spiders and Snakes?”) They don’t horrify me, though I did not care to get TOO close (except to take pictures). I was thrilled to see them, actually. I was thrilled to see what “wild nature” looks like, when it’s forgotten, untouched, and unmolested by human hands.
I drove home a little lighter, relieved to know that there are a few places left in Jax that are pesticide-, litter-, and developer-free.
In the garden.