Sunday, September 09, 2007

International Literacy Day

Rainbow Springs State Park International Literacy Day Table

Left to right: literature from the Science Fiction Poetry Association, the Art Center of Citrus County, the magazines Harp-Strings Poetry Journal and Poets' Forum Magazine, and the Florida State Poets Association, along with flyers for Deviations: Covenant.

The prompt for this week's Sunday Scribblings is "Writing."

My post "Processing" lists my entries and blogs that have an emphasis on the writing process. But what is writing without reading? Yesterday's celebration at Rainbow Springs State Park bridged the two....

September 8 marked International Literacy Day, which was celebrated across the Florida State Parks system. "FREE state park admission with library card or library book or donation of a new or gently used family appropriate book," said the FSP website.

Having gone through my galleys for Covenant and put together both a newsletter and an anthology -- along with surviving a month without air conditioning (and appreciating my local library on yet another level!) -- I was late to sign up as a presenter. But organizer Nicky Aiken fit me in, and I had a blast.

Stage by Rainbow Springs

I was the first to arrive for the festivities and was given a picnic table in the Hickory Pavilion, one of three pavilions with presenters. The stage was still being set up when I took this shot at around 9 AM. Behind the stage are the headwaters of Rainbow Springs. This is a first magnitude spring complex, fed by four main vents and with an average flow of 465 million gallons per day. These waters run to the Withlacoochie River, through Lake Rousseau, and finally into the Gulf of Mexico.

The park's 1,595 acres contain at least 11 distinct, natural communities: mesic flatwoods, sandhills, scrubby flatwoods, sinkholes, upland mixed forests, basin swamps, depression marshes, floodplain swamps, and hydric hammocks. My last visit to the park was back in March 2006. A photo-blog series about the park from that visit begins here.

(Blogger doesn't have a "next entry" tag, so the best way to navigate the series is to click on the plus sign on the black "Past Entries Index" box to the right of that entry, then on the plus sign on the pink "March 2006 Entry Titles" box, and then on the title you want. That code comes courtesy of

Hickory Pavilion, Rainbow Springs State Park

My table is over on the right. The two visible displays in this shot are from Altrusa at left and the Marion County Literacy Council at center. The table behind me had volunteers -- both two- and four-footed -- from the Marion County Humane Society.

Rainbow Springs State Park International Literacy Day Program

I was given the noon-1 PM slot. I brought enough material to cover the hour and then some, reading poetry and prose and plugging the material on my table. Some people stopped by to take literature. Several were unaware of how much cultural activity this area has, so I pointed them to the Yahoo group I established as a clearinghouse and point of exchange of cultural information.

That group, in fact, was how I learned of Saturday's event, thanks to another member's post.

Rainbow Springs State Park International Literacy Day Picnic Grounds

I took this shot before the festivities began; the stage is at background right. The picnic area filled up more as the day progressed. We had perfect weather but park attendance was less than expected. A folk singer gave a brief performance before the Literacy Day event got underway. A blues duo performed before and after me. No one else took the stage, but an Altrusa volunteer read a children's book aloud by the pavilion, to an audience seated on a blanket.

I was told afterwards that I could be heard as far away as the parking lot, so between the park's mic and my pipes I at least got the word out. People seem to have enjoyed.

Covenant T-Shirt

The T-shirt (and magnets, and postcards) that I'd ordered from Vista Print arrived the day before the event. I wore the shirt (without the Vista Print promotional sticker) showing Bo Savino's cover art for Covenant during my performance.

Before and after the event I made the acquaintance of a few orb-weavers. Around 9 AM this beauty was snacking on prey near the stage:

Black and Yellow Argiope With Prey
Large view

Black and Yellow Argiope, Argiope aurantia, Family Araneidae (Orb Weavers). This photo shows her underside. You can see her spinnerets (from which she produces her silk) near the back of her abdomen. According to Bugguide.Net, The American Arachnological Society gives "yellow garden spider" (all lowercase letters) as the official common name.

A propos to Sunday Scribbling's theme, "Writing Spider" is another common name for the Black and Yellow Argiope and for all Argiopes. "Writing" here probably refers to the stabilimentum, that zigzagged line in her web.

"The function of the stabilimentum is not fully understood," according to Bugguide. "Hypotheses are: that it stabilizes the web, or makes it more apparent to birds which will thus not fly into and wreck it, or it reflects light to attract insect prey, or perhaps most likely helps to camouflage the spider in the web."

At around 2 PM I spotted this Golden Silk Orbweaver couple:

Golden Silk Spider Couple 1
Large view

Nephila clavipes, Family Nephilidae. The large spider is a female. The much smaller one at the top of the shot is a male.

According to Bugguide, "This is the only Nephila species known in the Western Hemisphere. Other Nephila species are found in the south Pacific, SE Asia, Madagascar and Australia." Females can grow to have a body up to two inches long.

Here's another angle, with the male above and right of center:

Golden Silk Spider Couple 2
Large view

More awaited me in the parking lot. The less-visible spider is just to the left of the palm at lower right:

Golden Silk Spiders
Large view

Covenant, the first volume in the Deviations Series, is forthcoming from Aisling Press and can be pre-ordered here. The Deviations page has additional details.


Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for visiting my blog- come again!

How true...writing would be nothing without reading.

I look forward to visiting some of your links and reading a lot of your blog.

3:48 PM  
Blogger harmonyinline said...

I enjoyed seeing your spider pictures they are fascinating

5:37 PM  
Blogger Shelby said...

wow - great photos and post!

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been taking pictures of writing spiders ever since meeting one in my back yard two years ago (she showed up the day I submitted an essay to a writing contest and left the day after I learned I'd won, so I think you can see why I, who am generally anti-spider, can appreciate this sort.)

Legend says that if a writing spider writes your name in her web, death is coming.

Thankfully, all writing spiders I've met are functionally illiterate. At least in human forms of language.

Great pictures, great post.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Tumblewords: said...

An unusual and interesting post! Glad I found it but I'll probably have nightmares about spiders...

8:25 PM  

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