Say cheese.

The mist lingered this morning, its fine droplets revealing the previously invisible homes of spiders in our lawn and garden. Looking out our patio door, we could see dozens of patches of fine white weave among the backyard foliage.

My daughter took one look and declared that she was never going out there again.

I admire spiders. Unless they’re in the house, in which case I will stop at nothing to return them to the great outdoors. The plan to do so must somehow include staying as far away as possible from the spider. In most cases, said plan involves me calling the Mr. to scoop up the spider and fling it into the backyard.

So despite all my admiration, they still give me the heebie-jeebies. I was determined not to “never” go into my own backyard again, so to prove my bravery to my first-grader, I slipped on my shoes and sidled up close to the dewdrops, trying to get a peek inside the woven funnels where these spiders lurk.

Fine, maybe they’re not lurking. In fact, they’re probably hiding from big, lumbering creatures like me.

My daughter didn’t really stick around to witness my act of courage, but I soon forgot about that as I became preoccupied with the jewels clinging to the silken webs and spruce needles.

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Well, I’m no nature expert, but a quick Google search suggests these arachnids are classified as Agelenopsis (“grass spiders”) – and according to spiders.us, they’re “timid” and “non-aggressive.” (Whew.) And, in that case, I’m glad this one stuck around to pose for me.

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Shots in the dark.

Generally speaking, the approach of darkness means one thing: it’s past my bedtime. Once the sun has dipped, my camera’s packed away because by then I’m busy tucking in littles (which always seems to take longer than necessary) and then figuring out what to post to this page before I fall, bleary-eyed, into bed.

But the other night – the evening of my solo trip to Stratford – I sat beside the lovely reflecting pool in the quiet garden outside the Festival Theatre and watched the sky deepen to a royal shade of blue, and the pale blooms of the garden begin to glow. It was comfortably warm (even for me) but I was not, for once, a delicious meal for mosquitoes. There was no show at that hour, so the place was more or less deserted.

It was perfect for a first attempt at night photography. My eyes were blearier than usual by the time I got home, but it was worth it.

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I spy… something round.

I’m pleased with myself: I did an exercise. The kind of exercise I like, i.e., the kind that doesn’t involve a lot of physical exertion. I spent about an hour walking around a few city blocks, looking for circles. If I saw something circle-shaped, I snapped it – without my usual contemplation and deliberation about camera settings and angles and so on. I wanted to practice observation and do it without overthinking.

I hadn’t tried this kind of speedy, themed exercise before, and capturing a series of shots focused on an easy shape or colour seemed like a good place to start. I really got into it, and didn’t (for once) feel self-conscious about whether people thought me odd for squatting in alleyways to make photos of manhole covers.

Come to think of it, aside from being hyper-aware of spherical items during that hour, I don’t really remember being aware of too much else. Which may beg the question of whether I was actually practicing good observational skills if I had eyes for only circles? (Don’t worry, Mom, I’m exaggerating a bit… I obeyed all crosswalks and made sure no shady people were following me. Safety first.)

No matter. Finding circles was fun. (Suggestions for future themed exercises are always welcome, by the way.)

Well, I can’t promise fine art here, but if you have some time on your hands, or if you’re looking for a reason to delay scrubbing the bathrooms, writing a term paper or going to the gym, feel free to take a scroll through my collection of Circles in the City:

The Bard.

With a beautiful summer evening to myself, I went slightly snap-happy while wandering the gorgeous gardens in Stratford, Ontario. More to share later… for now, the main man, Mr. Shakespeare:

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