Observations on nature from a random, though perhaps not normal, week in New Mexico’s natural world:
The special events began last weekend, on a trip back through the caprock. The scenario that unfolded may seem scary to some, yecchy to some, and something to be kept far away from for others. The last part may be true to some extent, but a little bit of common sense is all that would be necessary.
That particular scenario was the migration of the tarantulas, which I daresay most of us are aware of, though perhaps only marginally. A quick check on a website, hosted oddly enough by Orkin, the pest control people, tells me that the tarantulas we see moving about are actually primarily males moving about in search of mates.
I use the phrase “oddly enough” because to me, tarantulas hardly qualify as pests. Potentially dangerous, if not treated with respect, but hardly pests. That refers to mosquitos, especially flies and the critters which I consider truly yecchy, millipedes and centipedes.
Arachnids are not my phobia, and tarantulas are among the more passive arachnids. Most readers know that they make decent pets, for those so inclined; never had one, but I’ve held them, and it doesn’t bother me to do so.
Crossing the road, then, were the migrating tarantulas, as big as my hand from the looks of them, not migrating in groups as I have seen them before but still numbering seven or eight in all.
From there, the week gets better … As significant or not as it may be, depending on your viewpoint, the coming of the equinox is an event worth noticing. On this particular equinox, the calendar date was ushered in by a light show in the sky of unusual impact.
Driving north with my granddaughter on Norris as darkness was falling, I called it to her attention. Having seen far fewer night skies than have I, she sort of took it for granted, I think.
The clouds were grayish white, but it was the pattern of lightning unfolding behind them that was nothing short of dramatic. It is hard to describe. Imagine that the clouds were internally lit — the clouds masked the actual bolt of lightning, and the clouds seemed to be luminescent, in a moving pattern.
Obviously, at least on the surface, there was no connection between the approach of the equinox and the awesome light display, but it does help us understand how superstitions might arise.
The final event in the trio of amazing natural revelations was the moon, full and cloud embraced as it was on Wednesday night. Technically, perhaps, it was not the full moon, but to all appearances, the drama was there.
What is the point of all of this? A flippant answer would be, if you have to ask, then I can’t explain, but the short answer is that even under ordinary circumstances, we are privileged to observe miracles.
I’ve been fortunate to be healthy enough and observant enough to receive gifts from the natural world. I’ve hiked up 14,000-foot mountains, snorkeled coral reefs, seen numerous elk and bear, a few bighorns, and a panther once or twice — all incredible gifts to receive.
That does not, however, lessen the impact of a week of small wonders.
Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis Christian High School. He can be contacted at: