Monday, October 01, 2007

Untamed Nature

Lana and I went for a walk last evening at the Flatwoods Preserve, which I've mentioned here before. The Flatwoods is about a mile from our place and we've never seen another human there, although we have seen a few human tracks. The Preserve is a place where conservationists are trying to maintain a combination of Longleaf Pine savannah and Bayhead swamp, some 90% of which has been lost in the USA. There is a boardwalk called "Pitcher Plant Trail" for all the carnivorous Pitcher plants that grow alongside it. Below is a picture of the boardwalk.

There is also a grass and dirt path that Lana and I tpyically detour on to get further back into the preserve area. It is along that pathway, along about here

that I came within two steps of putting my foot down on a Cottonmouth Water Moccasin. He had clearly heard me coming because he had his mouth open toward me and I swear I could see his fangs dripping a clear and evil venom. (Ok, maybe I exaggerate about the clearness of the venom.) Let me tell you that I gave a quick little hop, skip and jump backward, said movement which was accompanied by a small shriek. Nothing seems to get the heart rate up like a snake in your path.

In fact, we've seen snakes most of our times at the Flatwoods. Most have been non-poisonous but we did see a small Copperhead. Both Lana and I decided to wear boots next trip.

Besides snakes, we saw four huge spiders, one green one and three of the yellow and black garden variety. One of the latter had only 7 legs. I guess there's a story there, a life and death struggle on a micro scale.

How many of you have ever imagined what if you were shrunk down to insect size? I have. And I've always loved books and stories in that vein. My favorites were the three "micronaut" books by Gordon Williams, but there's almost enough of these kinds of stories to be a whole subgenre. I just read one called "Killer Pine," by Lindsay Gutteridge. This is one of a series about a micro spy. And, of course, there is TV/Movie tie-in with such offerings as Honey I shrunk the Kids and, my favorite, Land of the Giants.

Imagine, you wake up one morning on a vast snowy plain. But it is a warm plain, a plain of cotton rather than snow. In the night you've been shrunken down. Your bed is now an unexplored world, full of it's own valleys and hills. In the distance you see a dark shape coming toward you across the white expanse. I guess you better hope you don't have bed bugs.


Bernita said...

...and you use a loose thread to make a lasso. You halter and climb aboard the creature and ride it into the foothills...

Travis Erwin said...

They have virtual reality ride and Disney World were you travle through the human body as a grm if I remember right.

The experience made me quite ill.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernita, yes, you've been there I see.

Travis, I've seen that ride. I thought it was pretty cool. I also saw the "honey I shrunk the kids" show at Universal studios and it was great.

Sidney said...

My dad and I were fishing from the bank once, and the way I remember it at least, there was a water snake rearing it's head behind me as a I sat on log with my back to the water. My dad threw a piece of driftwood and knocked it away before it could strike me.

I was so young I may not remember it all exactly, but looking back it was pretty scary.

Angie said...

I read a book in junior high called The City Under the Back Steps, about two kids who get shrunk down to ant size and have an adventure in an ant colony. It was one of those books where you learn a few things painlessly while enjoying the story and I still remember it thirty years later.


Travis Cody said... I have the heebies. I'm a wussie city boy, afraid of spiders and snakes.


Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Lovely pictures! Some things I'd rather not get too close to are snakes, spiders and alligators. Shrinking in size and seeing the world from a completely different perspective is always a creative exercise. I always see myself shrinking to microbe size and living in a tiny speck of dust that an elephant named Horton would keep safe! ;o)

By the way, thanks for the comment on my excerpt. Good call on the not scared enough perspective. Never thought of that! That was really helpful.

Lisa said...

...and then a giant woolly mammothy thing towers overhead, reptilian eye shining evilly down at you, blocking out the blinding light from the overhead light fixture and you realize the the family cat is about to come down on you with one bulldozer sized paw, claws extended until -- she's gone and you're safe until suddenly you're flat on your back and the universe is turning upside down -- oh for the love of God! It's linen changing day!

cs harris said...

Eeek! Australia left me with a mortal fear of spiders and snakes. Note to self: take a pair of boots up to the lake.

Greg said...

Nice pics! That preserve looks like a neat place to walk around (except for the snakes).

Charles Gramlich said...

Sid, good aim on your dad's part. Had I thrown the drifwood I'd have probably missed and knocked you onto the snake.

Angie, I bet I would have loved that book. I loved "The Borrowers" series by Mary Norton.

Travis, snakes evoke a very 'old' human fear, I think.

Ello, one thing I loved about the live action "Grinch" movie was the idea that it all took place in a single snowflake. So cool.

Lisa, now you're into the spirit of things. Lol.

Candice, I was getting the creepies last night at the meeting when you were talking about Australia's giant spiders.

Greg, it is great, despite the snakes. Especially when it's turning a bit late in the evening.

Lana Gramlich said...

FYI, baby...those yellow & black spiders are called "banana spiders."
When I was a kid I used to imagine being knee-high to a grasshopper quite often. Possibly because I WAS knee-high to a grasshopper...

Erik Donald France said...

"Nothing seems to get the heart rate up like a snake in your path."

Truer words were never written. In NC, it's mostly copperheads, but they all shake out a primal response.

Made small, and the 60s show Land of the Giants.

Anonymous said...

The Incredible Shrinking Man is one of my favorite shrinking movies. I also liked the Land of the Giants. There is something fascinating about the idea of being small in a big universe. When I was a teen, I had a snake coming at my face. I was neck deep in this small river and I see this snake undulating down the river, right in front of me. I was out of that river and on the bank before you could even think Jack Robinson. I'm sure it wasn't poisonous, but when you see a snake you don't wait to ask questions.

Farrah Rochon said...

I've been fascinated with this concept since the old cartoon Inch High Private Eye. :)

I had no idea about the preserve. It looks lovely!

Angie said...

Charles -- I read The Borrowers books too -- those were fun. You know, I'm starting to get the feeling that you and I have read a lot of the same books, from the time we were kids. :D


Drizel said...

eeewwww bed bugs...I would pay good money to see you hop skip and shriek...hihih...seems amazing...:)
I read Carpet ppl once, I was freaked out, kept on cleaning my carpet, not good for obsesive compulsive to think of being shrunk and dirt being mountains....ooohhh:)

miller580 said...

Banana Spiders...we have those in Florida. Those spiders are our friends (or so I'm told). Let me add to Charles' description of the banana spider (at least the Florida version).

Imagine if you will a Bartlett pear...not the real pear though. A yellowish, greenish plastic one...the kind your grandmother might have kept in a fake fruit basket in the middle of her kitchen table. Now take that pear and stick on it 8 skinny legs. The short legs up front about 6 or 7 inches, the longer back legs maybe 10 inches.

That is the Florida Banana Spider. However, as I was typing that description I wanted to confirm the length of the legs so a tabbed over to google and searched.

Turns out my "florida" banana spider is much different than yours. I now must find out what our spider is really called.

BTW: If you want to creep yourself out, someone posted a video of a banana spider eating a grub. It is of course freaky...and now I feel like something is crawling on me.

YouTube video of Spider

the walking man said...

OK drive , do not walk. but drive to the nearest camp store and get hiking boots, not ankle high but full height, full leather and expect to pay top dollar for them and expect to take a month to break them in for they are really very stiff.

Do not go near poisonous snake habitat without THIS TYPE OF BOOT again, they can not penetrate the leather and have a snake bite kit with and anti venom syringe on you.

Do not do the movie thing about sucking out poison but turnequet it to stop it from spreading through rest of circulatory system.

You ain't living in Disney World partner you're reality includes about three hundred ways to get seriously hurt while on a walk about. You & Lana, thank God got lucky with the snake, if it was a she and had just laid eggs at best you would have lost the leg, you can guess what at worst would have been.

Snakes are good eating but they can kill you if you're not smart about them..suggestion rather than getting smaller than them better to get bigger by carrying a Glock on your nature walks.



Michelle's Spell said...


That's scary as hell! Those water snakes are mean and evil. Most snakes will leave you alone, but I've seen those bad boys chase a person.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana, but you're still cute.

Erik, copperheads scare me even worse.

Jack, I forgot about "the incredible shrinking man." yes, a good one.

Mark, I have motorcycle boots that are high top and very thick. I should have worn those. Lana needs some though.

Michelle, yes, I saw a water mocossin attack a cow once.

Etain, eh, dirt mountains don't bother me much. I grew up in the dirt pretty much.

Farrah, The Flatwoods is a very relaxing place when you aren't near snakes. :)

Angie, sounds like it. Did you read the stories about "the Littles" too?

Miller, some of 'em are so big they should call 'em "Get out of my way" spiders.

AvDB said...

Your swampy park looks about the same as my swampy park. At least I haven't come across any poisonous snakes. Lots of foxes, but no snakes.

There's a cool playground at MGM Studios that is a replica of the Honey I Shrunk the Kids set. Despite being thirty-ish (and sans knee-biters), I still have to run around it whenever I go.

Now, to out myself as the Disney World dork I am, EPCOT's "Body Wars" ride closed. The "Honey I Shrunk the Audience" movie is also at EPCOT.

I know, I know...