"What's in a Name?"

Women, their names, and the stories they tell

Fireworks from Dewdrops

What we don't see and why.

Walking early one summer morning, I had a postcard moment we have all shared— a waterfall of light pouring through the canopy, broken into ever smaller streams and rivulets by the dense foliage. Edges of green leaves gilded by sunlight. Specks of golden dust sluggishly drifting through the bright streams. A moment to savor, the visual flavor of summer.

As I turned to continue on, something unexpected caught my eye in the canopy. Glimmering lights that disappeared as I took a step. Diamonds suspended in the foliage? Fairy lights strung up in the trees? As I leaned this way and that trying to shift the brilliant beams to clear up this luminous mystery, it suddenly appeared again— two stories above the ground, a large, shimmering web covered with dew—each drop refracting sunbeams, bejeweling the air, stretching from one delicate, extended, arboreal limb to another.

How marvelous, an errant arachnid bewitching the canopy with its artistry. But no, as I began to search, more and more of these dazzling displays gradually revealed themselves. The upper story was glittering with shimmering webs. Everywhere I looked above my head, I saw them sparkling, then disappearing in the shadows, seen then unseen, in the blinding summer light and black shade. The webs were of different sizes, scattered throughout the trees in an unexpected, dazzling display.

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Aerial arachnids weaving magic in the air, draping the forest with shimmering gossamer. Just when I thought I had caught and tamed this magic, the mystery solved with a rational explanation, a tiny mote streaked through the air and crashed into a shimmering trap, scattering arching sprays of glittering diamonds into the air, fireworks of dew briefly lighting up the forest canopy, glimmering, then disappearing in the morning air. Magic that endured even when explained.

Looking at the web again, I saw it was damaged. Examining the aerial webs once again, I now saw that almost all of them were torn.

Silent, brilliant fireworks had been filling the air unseen, everywhere above my head.

How often had I walked this way and never noticed this mesmerizing display. The experience reminded me of spring in the mountains that blooms anew with the increasing altitude, just above our heads when we, flatlanders, think Spring is gone.

How much we fail to see or consider because we simply fail to look beyond our narrow horizons.

 

 

 

Elisabeth Pearson Waugaman, Ph.D., teaches in the New Directions writing program of the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis. more...

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