A fog rising through the Salt Creek valley led me quietly out the door and down the driveway, past a series of dirt road intersections and directly to the gate of the Little Salt Fork Marsh Preserve near Raymond, just in time to greet the dawn.
It was the barbed-wire spun in silk that first made me stop to consider the hidden creatures residing here that revealed a soft touch in sharp contrast to the tamed highway cutting through the creek.
As I crossed the fence, cameras dangling as extra limbs, it was clear that an entire congregation of prairie spiders had gather here to hunt the land, armed with spinnerets and silk, revealed only by their woven webs dripping in dew. Their creations dazzled as jewels—some doubled up and shining, dripping as diamonds and others drooping heavy under the weight of the droplets.
In the haze of dawn, the fog soon faded. I lingered on, with legs soaked in morning dew and the realization that I was a guest in a field of artists—all hungry hunters—with drawn weapons as delicate and intricate as my morning in the marsh.