Sun Dogs and Giant Alaskan Zebra Spiders

sun dog

Monday, Oct 5: Another ordinary extraordinary day in the ravine. I left a little later than usual, close to 4:00, and just steps into Westbrook I spotted a sun dog in the blue sky. It’s rare to see parhelion (actually it was a parhelia…I only saw one dog) this early. I associate sun dogs with winter, but clearly there were ice crystals in the atmosphere.


That would have been enough, but shortly after entering the ravine, we saw a sign taped to a tree – ALERT! Giant Alaskan Zebra Spider on the loose in Whitemud Creek Ravine. Smirk. As we laughed about this, I casually looked further down the trail and saw the spider, hanging in the tree. Yeah, it was fake of course, and sparkly, but I still gasped, ’cause I’m an idiot.


I love that someone took the time to plan this, and execute it. Had we been walking from the other direction, or at a different time of day, we probably wouldn’t have seen it. There is ALWAYS one thing – sometimes it’s a wonderfully unexpected scene like this, or maybe just a bit of beautifully lit foliage or a perfectly posed squirrel, but whatever it is, I’m meant to see it. My role as a walker is to witness. I’m not always conscious of my role, but when I see it, whatever it is, I know.

Sun dogToday was a two-fer: a sun dog and an awesome piece of public vandalism and/or guerrilla art. Interesting that this year there have been unrelated multiple eruptions of this sort of thing in the river valley and ravines. The fairy houses in Mill Creek Ravine and Whitemud Ravine. Trees decorated in colourful woolies. Alaskan Zebra Spiders. I love it, but I wonder, what haven’t I seen?

Depending on where you are, it’s peak fall. There is an even distribution of green leaves, fully-foliated trees, completely defoliated trees (Green Ash, I’m looking at you), and a beautiful carpet of multi-coloured leaves along the trails. Now that we’ve had frost, I imagine things will speed up, but for now, it’s just stunning.

Whitemud Ravine in Autumn

6C/4:45 to 6:00 pm

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