we carry on

First — Thanks everyone, for the wonderful stories, and remembrances which so many of you shared in the post about the passing of my husband, Don. It was great being able to read through your comments to see how Don’s life touched each of you. I encourage anyone who wishes, to add to the comments, as I know that some of you are finding it hard to put your thoughts into words just yet. I will continue to read through new additions as they appear.

In spite of our great loss, Sabrina and I are doing okay as we attempt to carry on with our lives. I have a friend visiting from out west and we’ve been working on some odd jobs around the farm. In between tasks, we have managed to get out for a couple of walks in favourite places. Last week, we visited Murphys Point Provincial Park near Perth, and walked the section of trail that leads to the McParlan cabin. That was always a favourite rest spot for Don, Sabrina and I when hiking at Murphys Point.

On this day, while my friend explored and photographed the cabin, I sat on the grass watching for spiders and soon found a large wolf spider — I think probably a Forest Wolf Spider (Hogna frondicola) moving about. I invited her onto my hand and she sat calmly while I snapped off a few photos from various angles (click on all photos for larger views).

Nearby, I also found a Hickory Tussock Caterpillar (Lophocampa caryae) (see below). It was kind of neat to find the caterpillar on this day and at this place. On September 18, 2005, Don and I found the same species of caterpillar not far from the McParlan cabin. There are photos of the 2005 caterpillar here and here. This week, I was once again reminded that, in nature, we often find a continuity that is somehow reassuring when all else around us seems fragile and transient.

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17 Responses to “we carry on”

  1. robin andrea Says:

    How wonderful that you got out there, bev, and took a walk with your friend and Sabrina. Yes, it is absolutely reassuring to see the continuity of nature. What better way to be reminded than that Tussock Caterpillar and a most friendly Wolf Spider. I’m glad you took the walk, posted these photos, and reminded us of the continuity too.

  2. Rebecca Clayton Says:

    I only know you through your blog, but there were always little hints there that you shared your life with a special, curious, nature-loving person. I’m sorry for your loss, but heartened to see you are finding wonderful things to see and enjoy, and very impressed that you find the energy to share them with us.

    Thank you.

  3. Kneeblood Says:

    Bev, I’m so glad to see you posting again. You’re a brave and wonderful woman and I am really glad I know, if only via the Internet, someone so sweet. I’m glad you’re taking some time for yourself and really in awe that you’ve chosen to share some of it with people like me. John

  4. NIna Says:

    Invited her?
    As in, held out a still hand and she walked forward?

    I’m surprised that she would approach, as I have a hard time even getting one to sit still in the center of the web if I’m anywhere visible. (not that I especially want her in MY hand)

    What a perfect chance for a closeup!

  5. Harsi Says:

    What an absolutely wonderful photo of Sabrina! Very pleased to hear that you have been going out on walks and discovering some of the amazing surprises that nature always holds for those who know where (and how) to look. Incredibly cool caterpillar… I was curious to see what the adult moth looked like, but couldn’t find an image on your photography site, so I popped over to BugGuide and had a look. Very attractive… Have you ever seen the adults?

  6. bev Says:

    robin – It was great being able to go for a walk. I think it helped Sabrina too, as I’m sure she has been missing our usual hikes to these favourite spots.

    Rebecca – I wasn’t sure that I would actually have the energy to carry on writing about nature, but perhaps I will.

    Kneeblood (John) – I’m glad to have been able to share these images with you and others. It’s difficult to go on alone (well, with Sabrina), but I know that it is what Don wanted me to do.

    Nina – Yes, I just held my hand out in front of her in the direction she was moving and she climbed aboard. I’ve found that most spiders are not nervous if they get to move onto you in a way that makes it feel like it was their decision and not yours.

    Harsi – Thanks! I have seen but never photographed an adult Hickory Tussock moth. They really are quite beautiful!

  7. Wayne Says:

    Bev – Sabrina looks good! I know she’s been anxious – you are clearly being very reassuring to her.

    I love your reply to Nina’s comment about letting the spider make the decision. They really are quite happy to run about in your hand if you don’t mash them or something. So long as they perceive it as a substrate. I’ve heard that people who handle scorpions use this same approach.

    I’ve accidently, while weeding, gathered up a wolf spider or two in my hand, and received a dull pinch to let me know I wasn’t paying attention.

    Tussocks! We’re getting them too – the milkweed tussocks though. They certainly look like something that could sting.

    Oh – surely you could never stop writing about nature. Tell me it’s not so.

  8. Peter Says:

    Bev. I walked to the McParlan house aswell a few weeks ago (from the closer side off Black Ance, since apparently the other trail was washed out in spring floods this year), great and peaceful place. Nothing but the sounds of the wind and loons.

  9. am Says:

    Good to hear that you and Sabrina have been out walking. I love your series of portraits of Sabrina, especially this one of her in the doorway. And yes, the continuity of nature is deeply reassuring, isn’t it? I’m happy to see the close-ups of the spider and the caterpillar.

  10. KGMom Says:

    Bev–I have only visited your blog once or twice. Today, I came here via Laura H in NJ, drawn by your title. Then I went back and read about Don’s passing. What a touching wonderful tribute. I am touch with grief, and struck by your spirit of resolve in the midst of mourning. I pray you and Sabrina will be comforted by friends, and the life of nature all around you.
    I also take caution in your account–my husband has had a nagging cough, and I am going to insist he talk to his doctor about it.

  11. bev Says:

    Wayne – Sabrina is finally gaining back some weight that she lost over the latter part of the summer. I’d like to see her gain back a few more pounds, but at least she is looking well. Regarding spiders on your hands, I also find that they don’t tend to bite so long as you don’t squeeze them in any way. If they sense that they are being crushed, they will definitely bite – and no wonder! I’m not sure if Milkweed Tussocks can sting. I’d have to look that up, but I don’t think so. As for me stopping writing about nature, at the moment, I wonder if I will continue, but perhaps the upcoming trip will keep me going. (-:

    Peter – McParlan House is a wonderful spot. I walked in from the Black Ance turn-around too and didn’t check the bridge to see if it was washed out. I wouldn’t be at all surprised as the last couple of winters had done some major damage to it. Must check that out next time I go there.

    am – Sabrina and I are trying to get out walking as often as possible these days. It’s good to be moving about outdoors, especially now that the weather has cooled off a little.

    KGMom – Thank you for the kind note. I hope that Sabrina and I will be able to recover a bit over the coming winter. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get your husband to speak to his doctor about that cough! Also, if it doesn’t go away quickly after beginning antibiotics or inhalers, INSIST on at least a chest xray, but actually, a chest CT is better if it can be arranged. Don had a chest xray in August 2007 and they said there was NOTHING wrong — but the CT scan clearly showed a tumor. I’ve since been told by a couple of pulmonary doctors that chest xrays often don’t show lung tumors so they consider them almost useless. This is info that I think everyone should be aware of. I may actually do a post about this — a little out of character for my blog, but I think it’s a subject that deserves to be discussed in detail.

  12. thingfish23 Says:

    That last sentence is pure awesomeness. And the tonic of it was needed.

  13. thingfish23 Says:

    …and with a sentence like that, why would you entertain the idea of not writing about nature anymore?

    (It’s a rhetorical question. Your writing is your business, of course!)

    You sure would be missed, but then again, “it’s” not all about me, or us, out here!

    God bless ya.

  14. Mike Bush Says:


    I am reading your blog for the first time – having searched on ‘camouflaged caterpillers CA’ looking for an ID for a good friend of mine (photo at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sbfledgling/2869725336/in/photostream/). As your pages were very informative and dotted with superior photography, I headed to your ‘home page’ — and learned of the recent death of your husband to lung cancer. I truly hate that his passing came so quickly, and celebrate your focus on life and things living. An old buddy of mine always said, “It’s okay to look back, just don’t stare.” While I hope that doesn’t sound ‘cold’, I have found it very useful in my life.

    I am a throat cancer survivor (squamous cell, stage IV) and I never smoked either. The drs. just felt I was ‘lucky’. My Angel of Health was my best friend and wife – Jeanne Miller (www.pinedancestudio.com)and I am most fortunate six years down the road to have strong health and my doctors are now using a new “C-Word”; Cure.

    Normal life for you for the past 34 years included a loving and caring best friend and husband. I wish for you the strength to find a ‘new normal’ – one that doesn’t include a living husband yet includes you and what you bring to our planet. Thank you for sharing. Your spirit photography and writing have allowed me to reconnect with my good fortune and are the highlight of my day.

    Best to you.


  15. bev Says:

    thingfish – thanks, and no, I won’t stop writing — at least, not in the foreseeable future.

    Mike – I looked for the caterpillar on your friend’s photo website, but couldn’t find it — perhaps I was looking in the wrong place. The “it’s okay to look back, just don’t stare” sounds like a wise enough saying to me – especially if looking back causes you to not move forward. Just checked out your wife’s website — beautiful art. Terrific to hear that your health has been good following a diagnosis of throat cancer. After six years, I’d say that “cure” seems highly likely. Glad that my website and photography may have helped add to your day.

  16. Mike Bush Says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Bev – and the review of m y wife’s art! I’m glad to see you actively posting.

    I erred in my ‘caterpiller’ word. Simply turn some letters around and it should have read: grasshopper. You likely saw it on my friend’s flickr site. It’s mostly mottled soft browns in a most camouflaged manner. Any ideas?




  17. Wendy Weber Says:

    Hi Bev,
    I was on the computer at our winter home in Rio Lagartos, Mexico when I came across your blog. I have so enjoyed the journeys,both physical and emotional, you have posted. The tribute and photos of Don took me several cups of tea and mucho Kleenex to get through, but it was wonderful!! I hope you are filling your life with the things you love, and I don’t doubt for one moment Dons’ gentle, loving spirit is guiding you.
    We are not missing winter at all. We are in a small fishing village 2 hours west of Cancun on the Gulf. It is a nature reserve and the bird population is out of this world. Many North American birds winter here. There is also a permanent flamingo colony, and the native birds are beautiful.
    There are only four of us who are not mexican, so we are jumping into Spanish quickly. As you may remember languages are not Larrys strong suit.
    Anyway, so glad to reconnect. Hope all is well with you and your canine kids. I think of you often.
    Hugs Wendy

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