Watch your step!

— I sicken a little to think of all the insects I kill when traveling in my car. So I’m extra careful when on foot.

This little fellow – the size of a cherry pit – narrowly escaped death when I rushed up the back step yesterday.

I do tend to pay attention to where my feet will fall, but I was extra vigilant in my foot travels the rest of the day.

And what did I see later at a park but my first toad of the year.

Reminds me of what my friend and sometime-mentor Jasper Carlton said about the pace of life, which was to the effect of, “You can’t really experience or be a part of your environment when you’re traveling through it at high speed.”

If it takes a snail to remind me to slow down, that’s just fine.

Hurry July 5

Among the several reasons to enjoy July 4 in the United States is the calm that comes about when this country takes a collective recess from work. Not a collective meditative calm, which is hard to even imagine, but at least a recreational calm.

Everyone’s playing. Or eating. Or chilling. Or whatever.

To be sure, the commutes are light. And there’s a welcome stillness in the air.

Which makes tonight all the worse. That stillness – not to appear overly dramatic here, but that’s the calm before the storm.

Tonight’s fireworks are going to create an unfathomable amount of duress across wildlife communities and of course among domestic animals. We all know dogs and cats who run and hide at the sound of the first firework, some who shake uncontrollably for hours.

Surely many pigs and chickens and cows suffer likewise, though being out of sight, their plight is unnoticed. It’s not hard to imagine that many animals in laboratories are adversely affected, too.

“Ralphie” the buffalo mascot of the University of Colorado will be trotted out for the amusement of the crowd at tonight’s event at the campus stadium. Buffalo and bison are known to be highly sensitive to sound.

I remember seeing a fox absolutely disoriented and terrified outside the stadium at a celebration many years back. She somehow found herself in the middle of the huge crowd of people agog at the flashing lights and loud bangs. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an animal so alone.

The companion animals inside our homes are the best off. They are less likely to get physically hurt. They won’t be running into traffic or fleeing blindly into the night.

Those who are terrorized or made anxious by fireworks may be helped by wrapping a towel or sheet around them (or using the popular Thundershirt, which operates on the same principle).

Some will benefit from pharmaceuticals or natural remedies.

Many will benefit if you close your windows and turn up the volume a bit on whatever it is they like hearing. Keep them busy. Keep them inside.

Tomorrow Facebook, Nextdoor.com and other sites will be rife with reports of lost and found animals. Animal shelters will see an increase in the number of lost animal companions. (If you’re in CO or TX, you can use the Animal Help Now website or phone app for guidance if you find or lose a companion animal.)

I feel, too, for the veterans and others among us humans for whom fireworks are traumatic.

I know how I sound, but give me a magic wand, and I won’t make fireworks go away; I’ll make them enjoyable for everyone.

Such wands being in short supply, I’ll hope for the best tonight, and I will welcome tomorrow’s light, though with the sad knowledge that our celebrations resulted in so much trauma to our animal friends – domestic and wild, alike – and in countless of their lives being lost or shattered.

Spiders!

Sorry. I mean, spiders.

I’ve seen two in my bathtub now in the past several weeks. Both times were when I’d forgotten to put up their escape “ladder” – that is to say, the hand towel I keep draped over the edge of the tub.

Yes. The two times I’ve failed to replace the towel after using the tub, I’ve found spiders stranded in the basin.

I scooped them up with a postcard and deposited them into a nearby corner on the bathroom floor, so they could return to exploring or hunting or whatever it is spiders do when they’re not sleeping.

Which is to say that (a) spiders seem to enjoy forays into my bathtub and (b) when I find them there they likely aren’t lying in wait.

And more to the point, it’s to say that I live with spiders and everyone seems to get along OK.

I understand the fear. And some spiders definitely evoke it in me more than others. So I understand the desire to deposit them not on the bathroom floor but outside the house. Whether or not this sentences many of them to death or hardship, I do not know, but I do care, and so I err on the side of caution (though, black widow, you shall go outside).

Note that these words are being written by a person once so frightened of spiders that he took an aerosol can and a lighter and torched one whose only crime was being in a place in my apartment where I couldn’t easily capture or otherwise kill him.

This same person who committed that awful act would many years later relocate a brown recluse and what appeared to be hundreds of her babies.

So things change, and that’s part of the point. The arc of one’s respect for others is long, but with any luck it bends toward an increase.

The other part of the point is to imagine for just a second the likelihood that a being as tall as a skyscraper would shiver or cower when encountering a tiny little human. Right? Get it?

Life is precious. Spiders are amazing. If you don’t want to see them, though, stop trapping them in tubs and sinks. A hand towel will do the trick.