Sherry-Go-Round: Stars over my head and under my feet
by Sherry Kughn
Nov 11, 2013 | 1674 views |  0 comments | 87 87 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Recently, I discovered a wonderful secret that everyone can enjoy. I saw it while on a night hike as a member of the Anniston Outdoor Association. We hiked to Sweetwater Lake in Talladega National Forest to hear a lecture while viewing stars. What we found were stars beneath our feet. Well, they weren’t exactly stars, but they were as lovely. They were, of all things, spider eyes.

There were 16 men, women, and children walking in a line along a path that meandered alongside a creek. I wore my new LED headlamp. I pointed it downward in order to spot rocks or tree roots to avoid. A few feet from the trail, among the fallen leaves, I saw what I thought, at first, were water droplets. I stood still and noticed that they were moving. I bent over and looked closer. The glittering dots reflecting my light were from the eyes of countless spiders. I told those closest to me about the discovery, and they, also, became excited about seeing a sparkly forest floor. Those without LED lights could not see them, so we shared our LED lights with each other.

After we trekked onward, we finally arrived at a meadow and heard a Jacksonville State University instructor and an informed AOA member tell us all about the constellations. Then, we hiked back to the return vehicles.

As soon as I arrived back home, I searched the Internet to learn more about spider eyes on forest floors. Other people, it seemed, had made similar discoveries, how reflective of light spider eyes are. Also, some people had seen the sparkling forest floor and enjoyed the view.

Just this past weekend, I attended a Christmas party (yes, even before Thanksgiving). I was asking a couple of friends there to guess what kind of sparkles we saw on the forest floor. “It was spider eyes,” one guest piped up. “I’ve seen them in the forest, and they are beautiful.” So, the secret is out, and now even more nature lovers will know to purchase an LED light and strike out for the nearest leaf-strew florest. They’ll watch the star-like beauty a distance from their feet, quite a treat.

I must mention the purpose of our trip – the stars. We had worried as we walked that the cloud cover was too thick. But, after we exited the bower of overhead trees, we found a clear, cold night with stars as thick as glitter on a greeting card. We saw the Milky Way and heard the tales of Orion, the great hunter, and other mythological people. A starry sky is in constant motion, we learn, changing with the seasons, which is why we can see certain constellations at times and not at others. Our instructors used a laser pointer to identify the stars, aiming its red beam into the heavens. Of course, they were careful not to point the laser at any passing airplanes. After all, it’s against the law. Everyone was enthusiastic and kept asking questions.

Even more importantly, though, than what we saw, was the fun we had. We learned new things, ate pizza and crispy s’mores, made new friends, and exercised. Also, we spared special camaraderie, encouraging and assisting one another.

For those who might be interested in joining the Anniston Outdoor Association, go on the Internet search for it. Read about how to become a member. Keith Hudson is a great director, and he has events planned for the remainder each month of the year.

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Sherry-Go-Round: Stars over my head and under my feet by Sherry Kughn

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