Friday, October 28, 2011

last rose of autumn

last rose of autumn --
tiny white crab spider guards
one red rose petal

The day before yesterday, the rose bush in the sheltered southeast side of the house still holds one rosebud and one unfolding rose blossom. In the warmth of the sun yesterday, it unfurls completely. With just a few large petals, it looks more like an Oriental poppy than a rose. This is not its usual appearance, as can be seen from last year's image of a many-petaled rose. Perhaps the drought forced the rosebush to conserve the number of petals on each blossom. Anyway, the poppy-like rose looks like a Georgia O'Keeffe painting. Intent on capturing the beauty of the blossom, I don't notice something sticking out from one petal, like a white thorn. When I move around for a different angle, I spot a tiny white crab spider perched on the edge of the petal, sitting in ambush, waiting to grab an unwary insect. Its two pairs of front legs stick straight out, appearing quite menacing despite its diminutive size. It holds that pose for a long time while I get up close and focus on taking its portrait. Then, perhaps weary of my scrutiny, it scuttles sideways behind the red curtain, ending the photo session. Last night, the temperature dropped to freezing. The soft green leaves of the dahlias are crumpled and their petals hang limp, like a crowd of women with long dripping wet hair. But the red rosebud has shed its protective overcoat and the full blossom still sits royally on its pedestal. No sign of the crab spider.

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