How far would you go to get to your favorite place?

This week’s photo challenge is to show a favorite place … a happy place, a secret spot. In the first half of my life, I had many favorite hideaways, almost all of them outdoors.  As I begin the second half of my life in a new part of the country, though, I have to find my new happy places.

This is a shot of my local park, taken back in October, 2017. The foliage has already started to die down for the autumn, but the grass you see here would have been up to my knees. In the foreground of the photograph, you can see a bit of railing. When I took the picture, I was standing on a bridge-like path that runs through the park. The walkway is designed this way to keep folks safe from the wildlife, not to protect the habitat from traffic. This is a common arrangement, here in North Carolina, and it’s a wise precaution. One that I’ve taken seriously because I know just enough to know that there are some dangerous critters hiding in all that grass and in the underbrush.

As a native of Minnesota, I was comfortable with my biome. I knew which plants to avoid. I knew how to stay clear of the icky but harmless creepy-crawlies that inhabited the areas I prowled. I knew where the dangerous critters might be, and what to do in the (unlikely) event that I encountered one. In most cases, I had a good chance of seeing the trouble coming. (‘Pretty hard to miss a bear or a temperamental deer, if you’re paying attention.)

In Minnesota, there were two (rare) species of venomous snakes, and both were polite enough to stay within a confined, easily identifiable, ecosystem and come equipped with a rattle, in order to warn an unwary trespasser.

One other significant, hard to detect, threat came in the form of the Northern black widow spider (L. variolus) — the least aggressive of all the widows.

As a transplant to North Carolina, I’m less confident. Here, instead of staying alert for big stuff, I have to watch for sneaky dangers. Here, the Northern widow is joined by both Southern (L. mactans) and brown (L. geometricus)  widows. Here there is also the brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa) which creeps me out more than the widow sisters. Probably because the bite of a recluse causes something called “external tissue necrosis.”

On the non-venomous front, we have a whole host of spiders that I’d rather not surprise, including the Carolina wolf spider, the largest wolf spider in the US. (It can be as big as the palm of your hand.) And let’s not forget the possibility of running into the uncommon but not-unheard of fire ants that are trying to expand their territory up from the deeper south.

The biggest difference between my old stomping grounds and my new home, though, lies in its venomous snakes. Here, they are not exactly rare. And there are SIX of them — three rattlesnakes, and three silent snakes: the copperhead, the cottonmouth, and the coral snake. (Which is both the rarest and the deadliest of the bunch.)

Being the cautious sort, I’ve pretty much stayed on the paths and boardwalks as I’ve been exploring my new state.

Today, though, I realized that the season has opened up more options for a just a little while. Right now, the undergrowth is mostly still dormant, so I can see what is underfoot much better than I will be able to once the verdant growth begins. The bugs aren’t yet active. The snakes will most likely be slow and dimwitted from the cold, if they are out at all.

Today, I stepped off the path. I followed the little stream that runs through the park instead. It was a joy to be able to get close to some of the details that have been hard to see from the approved walkways.

(Can you tell I was closely watching the ground?)

Then I came to this, one of Mother Nature’s little personality tests.

Which led me to a question — a kind of poll, if you like — that I want to ask you:

If a new favorite place might be on the other side, would you cross by walking over the fallen tree (spiders) or or by wading through the water (snakes)?

~***~

Here are some of my favorite ‘FAVORITE PLACE‘ responses from others:

(I’ll add more as I have time to browse, so feel free to check back.)

amongst the elephantsunchangeddownfalllook for the “bathing hut”the spider web video at the bottom seems aptrugged beachlost in the pines

click her for more on the Weekly Photo Challenge

Find all my photographic projects at Haunting Photos (there’s also a link in the blog header.)

Fair warning: I’m returning to regular blogging after a long hiatus. I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet. My posting schedule is off, and things might be a little messy if you wander around long enough. 


10 Comments on “How far would you go to get to your favorite place?”

  1. Beautiful pictures 😀 I think I would jump 👍

  2. After now being in NC for 13 years, I can say spiders don’t bother me, and the poisonous snakes keep their distance. I did run into a couple black racers, who get over 7 feet long. They kink – which is bending at a 90 degree angle – when they sleep to look like sticks. I’ve heard they can be aggressive and give them space. They periscope like cobras to look around. Only saw corals in Florida and they have to chew. Their mouths are small so it’s hard to latch onto you.

    • :O (Black racers.) Okay. Good to know. :3

      I so appreciate your insights into this whole transplanting to NC thing.

      I guess my biggest real worries — the ones that make me reconsider where I can safely go — are the fire ants (which I have some experience with, long ago, in Texas) and the cottonmouths / water moccasins. I’m strongly drawn to water, being a MN girl and all, and it freaks me right out that there could be snakes in there. I miss kayaking.

      • I’ve got a drainage creek running between my property and the neighbors. I rarely see snakes and I walk the dog through a wooded path next to it every day. But my neighbor had a copper-head surprise them one day. I’m not overly cautious here as I was in NY state.

        The racers keep the field mice and vole populations down. And they kill the poisonous snakes. But the kinking thing is odd to see.

  3. Hunter Shea says:

    I’d walk over the fallen tree just for the fun of it. Would probably fall and be bitten by snakes.

  4. Jay Moeller says:

    I would try to go across via fallen tree. The bank of your stream is steep and no doubt slippery. No telling what unpleasant critters I might disturb as I struggled up, after braving the water snakes and getting wet in the stream. This seems contradictory to my nature since spiders are my number one horror, but if I’ve got to get across to the other side I can kick or stomp vigorously an 8 legged horror but a snake in the stream would have an advantage I’d rather not face.


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