Talent Night at the County Fair: July, 2014

FairSinger

An I-beam blocked our view from our first choice of seats.  We went back down and back up.  Great view!  A mud horse track separated the half-filled grandstand from the stage.  The stage was named for the Waste Removal Company that takes the trash from most of the homes of Clinton Co., NY.

It had rained earlier in the afternoon, but the sky was clearing nicely.  The west wind began to turn slightly chilly…enough to force me to dig for my fleece vest.  A fleece vest!?  In mid-July?  This was the North Country.  On the wall of the backstage were billboards from Pepsi and Budweiser.  Beyond the stage I could see the Green Mountains of Vermont.  In between, unseen, was Lake Champlain.

On stage the dozen contestants sat on folding chairs.  I could barely make them out in the dim lighting.  I could see a guitar act was in my future, though.  With any luck, maybe a Dylan song.  I squinted to see the young woman holding the guitar between her knees.  Nope.  Even her parents are too young to know who Dylan is.

The two emcees were ‘personalities’ from the local TV station.  One was the news anchor and the other was the weekend weatherman.  I wondered how much he made to tell us that it was cold, is cold and will be cold until Saturday afternoon…when it will be a little less cold.

First up was the 12-year-old and under group.  Six girls.  The backup music was provided by two guys at a sound table under a brown canvas tarp mid-way across the horse track.  A rainbow appeared above the stage.

I got as comfortable as I could and began to listen to these young girls sing (one did an Irish Step Dance).  Then they were followed by the adults.

I let the music fill the old wooden stands.  I heard the voices sing songs I mostly didn’t know.  I listened to the occasional lines:

“Let it be…”

“Before he cheats…”

“Sway with me…”

“Rain blowing in your face…”

“Surround me when the night gets cold…”

The voices were tentative, shy, strong, weak, off-key, quiet and loud.  But like all music, good and not so good, it transported me.  I left my body on the bench and my mind began to soar.

I soared over the rows of fresh-cut hay of the field beyond the horse track, up and over Plattsburgh, across Lake Champlain, over the Green Mountains, passed the rainbow that had appeared in the clouds overhead, toward New Hampshire, Boston and the Atlantic Ocean.  I was vaguely aware of the shy voices of the little girls, the strong “give-me-your-best-shot” confidence of the adult women, the strong baritones of the men, the gentle folk song on the guitar.

This was young untested talent.  Virgin talent.  Bold talent.  And some of it was nearly free of talent…but it came from twelve people who had the stuffing to get up in front of their friends and family and neighbors and try.  They tried with their hearts because they wanted someone, anyone to listen to what they felt they had.  This was their moment in the blue lights.  This was their chance to prove to themselves that whatever it is they want, they were going to try to get it.

The first little girl who sang, came in last.  She walked down the ramp of the stage and slowly across the dirt horse track…the widest horse track she had walked across in her eight or nine years on earth.

She was wiping her cheeks.  My heart broke.

“Please God,” I said to myself. “Don’t let her think she failed, is a failure, will be a failure…is not now or ever going to be good enough.”

She’s lying in her bed now, thinking about how she came in last.  What will she do in the morning?

“Please God, give her the strength to get out of bed and begin singing again.”

Me?  I’m sitting at my laptop trying to describe to you how she sent me out over the Ocean.

I think her creative energy was bound up with my fate.  If she had faltered in mid-song…turned around and walked away…I would have fallen into the sea.

Fair1

FairLights

Carny

The Carny

 

 

27 Years Ago Today

Nancy&BrianBarbaraSmiths

BrianRedSweaterOwego

To recall something that happened over a quarter of a century ago, in detail…minute detail, is a remarkable gift.  Sometimes, I can’t recall who won the World Series a month after the last pitch.  Who ran for Vice-President two elections ago?  How old am I?

I have to stop and think about many of these things.

But, there are some things that happen in one’s life that work like a strong acid, etching a memory in the glass of your cortex that records every detail.  Like a Daguerrotype, you can look at the image of a person or action frozen for all time on a silver coated sheet of paper.

That’s the way the morning of July 14, 1987 played out for me.  That was the day my son, Brian, was born.  He was a surprise, in a way, he wasn’t expected until weeks later.  He hit the delivery room scale a little under 5 lbs.  He was put into an incubator.

I was already the father of a daughter.  When Erin was born, I was kept in the waiting room, pacing back and forth like a ‘nervous expectant father’ character in a 1950′s TV show.  There was no nurse to chat with me.  Soon the doctor came in and announced that “she” was here.  But I, the father, was left to wonder and worry in a room with a table of outdated Good Housekeeping magazines.

Not so in 1987.  I had gone to the rest room to splash my face which had been sweating on a vinyl chair where I had spent the night.  When I returned to the room, Nancy was gone.  An Orderly threw a pile of scrubs at me and said to put them on ASAP and follow him.  I was struggling to fit the booties on as I hopped down the hallway.

In the Delivery Room, Nancy was already in position.  Our Obstetrician hadn’t arrived yet, so a Resident handled the actual delivery.  I saw the whole event.  I stood and watched as his head pushed through.  Then, plop, he was out…into the doctors hands.  All slimy, bloody and very tiny.  The nurses took over and wiped him, snipped and swaddled him.

Meanwhile our Obstetrician arrived in time to do the stitching (and later the billing).  The doctor looked up at me and said: “Well, what do you think?”

I couldn’t respond.  I looked at Nancy.  She seemed spent and sleepy.  I looked over at Brian, all 4 lbs and something of him.  I still couldn’t speak.

“Well, what do you think?” the doctor asked again.

I still had no words to express myself.

I walked over to the window and looked down at the parking lot…and tears flowed down my cheeks.

I had just witnessed one of life’s most amazing and significant events.  The emergence of a new life.

I knew then and I know now that what I had just seen was not ‘unique’ in a global sense.  The scene was being replayed in every corner of the planet, without regard to day-light or dark, desert or jungle, plush pure sheets in expensive clinics or mud-caked floors in Bolivian huts.  This was the famous “circle of life” that everyone has sung and wrote about for thousands of years.

The real difference here was that my eyes had seen my son’s first seconds in the world he will occupy until his life span is completed.  I was there at the starting line when the gun was fired.  I was there when he hit the ground running.  I was there when the first flash of light hit his cornea, the first touch of a human hand, the first slight breeze, the first dry space, the first head-above-the-water out of the pool of embryonic fluid, the first pinch of pain, the first touch of fabric on his skin and his first inhalation of the mixture of 78% Nitrogen and 21% Oxygen that was to be his ‘air’ for a lifetime.

Then, the rest was easy.  He grew before my eyes, from a being whose sole focus was MILK to someone who then had thoughts, ideas, words, needs and questions.

Over the years, we walked together, ate, argued, laughed and grew to know each other as adults do.

There is much I need to show him.  Places I need to take him.

I’ll always be his teacher just like I’ll always be his father.

Happy Birthday, Brian, from someone who first met you 27 years ago today.

Brian and Kirsten 5

My Right Chest, My Ringtone and a Cemetery

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Just this afternoon, I found myself in a cemetery.  For those who are keen on details, it was Saint Alphonsus Cemetery in Tupper Lake, NY.  The skies were blue with patchy cumulus clouds; a departure from the thunderstorms we’ve been experiencing.  I love to stroll in cemeteries.  Usually, they are quiet places excellent for the necessary contemplation of Life and Death issues that we all should ponder every so often.  I had my favorite little notebook, a Moleskin, in my left shirt pocket.  I keep this book handy to copy interesting epitaphs, if I should happen upon one.  In my right shirt pocket was my iPhone (red protective case for those of you who are keen on details).  I had on an Amazon.com baseball cap.  I had already sprayed myself with my homemade bug repellant (see recipe below).  The gnats seemed to love the repellant.  I guess it’s an approach/avoidance kind of thing with those little bugs.

The tune “In The Mood” was running through my brain.  That’s because we had gone to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts last night to see and hear the Glenn Miller Orchestra.  I love big band music and the thoughts I was having last evening could make for a really cool blog.  Hmmm?  And, the female vocalist? Forget about it.  She came on stage like a sweet blend of Mae West, Jessica Rabbit and Betty Grable.  I was so intent on listening to her lovely voice and looking at her cherry-red lipstick, that I failed to notice the slit up her ankle-length gown.  They had to tell me about it later.

During the concert, I had turned off the ringer of my iPhone.  It was set on vibrate.

My wife had come along for the ride to Tupper Lake because she wanted to get some fresh air.  I mean we have plenty of air, fresh and otherwise at our house at Rainbow Lake, but she just wanted to go on a drive.  She took a short walk toward the Civil War section and then settled in the car to to escape the gnats.

So, there I was walking over a slight rise in the cemetery.  The lawn was freshly mowed and the scent of newly cut grass filled my olfactory system.  When I passed the headstone for Florence Rounds, my right chest began to flutter.  That’s it, I was sure I was having the “Big One” as Redd Foxx used to say.  For a moment, I thought that a cemetery is the perfect place to have the old ticker stop ticking.  After all, you’re right where you should be.  I asked God for the forgiveness for my few sins and put my hand to my right chest.  Then I remembered that my heart was actually on the left part of my chest.  So this wasn’t the Big One.  This was the vibrating iPhone.  It was Mariam calling me to think about getting home.  I said okay…just a few more stones to look at in an effort to find a collectible epitaph.  I switched my phone back to ringer mode and put it back in my right shirt pocket.

Quickly, I was lost in my reverie again.  I passed Anna Huntington and then Daisy Peets. Both ladies were about my age when they were called home, so to speak.

I was in a rather isolated part of the cemetery.  My cell phone went off again.  This time my ringtone kicked on.

I had downloaded Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” from iTunes about a year ago.  So, here I was standing in a lonely part of a cemetery and I’m hearing: “How does it feel?  How does it feel?”

My vivid imagination, for the briefest moment, had me feeling that it was the question sung by all those deceased people, some forgotten, some remembered, to me.  They wanted to know how it felt to be the one who was alive.  Maybe they forgot the sun and the rain, the clouds and the snow, the laughter and the tears, the joy and the sorrow of being alive.

“It feels pretty good,” I said, as I headed back to my car.

I was in the mood.

 

[Make Your Own Bug Dope]  This was put out by a friend of mine on Facebook several years ago.  I forgot who posted it, but thanks!

Get a 16 oz Spray Bottle

Mix: 15 Drops of Lavender Oil with 3-4 Tbsp Vanilla Extract and 1/4 cup of Lemon Juice.  Shake well.  Spray. Enjoy.

The Moonflower

Moonflower

The heavenly fragrance of moon flower permeates the air in the whole garden.

–The Flower Expert website

In the summer of 1965 I was busy preparing to leave my home, family and friends and go off to college.  Actually, only part of what I just said is true.  I was going away to college, that’s true.  But I was not busy preparing for it.  No, I was busy trying to hold on to my old life.  Once you go away to college, that’s it.  Nothing is ever the same…ever again.  I instinctively knew that so I did things to delay my departure…from my home, from Owego and from my youth.

That Spring, I cleared out the debris that had accumulated in a narrow patch of soil between the front porch and a sidewalk that went along the side of the house that faced the RR tracks.  That would be the east facing side of 420 Front St.  That was the side that gave me a clear look at the home of my childhood friend, Jimmy Merrill.

I broke up the cleared soil and planted a row of seeds.  I planted Moonflower seeds from a packet I had bought at J.J.Newberry’s on Lake St.  I had never grown a Moonflower before, but the picture on the packet looked beautiful.  And who couldn’t fall under the spell of anything called a Moonflower.  I carefully read the label and it described how Moonflowers were climbers.  So, I attached a dozen lengths of string from the ground up to the board beneath the front porch roof.  I watered the seeds and then went out with my girlfriend, Mary, to Shangra-La Speedway to watch the stock car races.  Or, we would walk up to the monument of Sa-sa-na-Loft and sit on the bench that overlooked the town.  We couldn’t see my house because of the trees, but we could make out the white back wall of her house on E. Temple St.  I could see the Court House and the yellow busses near the high school.  We watched the trains that passed through town just below where we sat.  I watched as the trains rode over the Tunnel of Love, splashed in white paint, at the bend in Paige Street.  I’ve written before how important that tunnel was.  I stole more than one kiss in that damp passageway.  I can’t speak for Mary, but I was proud when PE & MAW appeared one day on the dingy wall.  It was accompanied by a heart and an arrow.

I kept an eye on the Moonflowers.  They sprouted, just when the packet said they would, and they began to climb the string I had put in place for them.

We went to the Tioga County Fair.  I didn’t win a Teddy Bear for her, but we rode the Ferris Wheel and the Merry-go-round.

There was a small swinging seat on the side of our front porch, just beside the railing that was slowly being covered by the leaves of the Moonflower.  I remember the two of us sitting on the swing while the sky grew black as ink over Cemetery Hill and a spectacular thunderstorm broke out, complete with hail, lightning and the closest thunder you could imagine.  But we were dry and cozy on the swing and the Moonflowers got a healthy drink of water.

We canoed on the Susquehanna, often paddling up to Hiawatha Island, owned at the time by the family of one of my best friends, Pete Gillette. (That was the last summer I ever saw Pete).

As the days drifted into mid-August, I knew my days at home were quickly winding down.  Arrangements had been made for me to get a ride to Louisiana (where I was going to attend college) with Cathy Brown and her family.  Cathy would later become Mrs. Craig Phelps (another of my closest friends who lived across the street).  Even later, Cathy would lose her son and then “Doc” himself.  I miss him terribly.

I never knew if Craig could see the Moonflowers from his house.  It would have been easy if he knew where to look.

The vines of the flowers continued to climb.  My day of departure was coming.  It became a race.  I packed.  The Moonflowers grew.  They grew up fast, like I felt my high school years had done.  My school days flashed by me in minutes, not years.

The days finally arrived.  The Brown’s were going to pick me up in a few hours.  I went out onto the front porch.  The buds were ready to open any minute, it seemed.

I left Owego never seeing the Moonflowers bloom.

A few months later, my relationship with my girl friend ended.  I never got to see the bloom of that flower, either.

The following summer, I found out that all the things I worried about, did indeed come true.  Nothing was ever, ever the same again.

I never planted Moonflowers after the summer of 1965.

 

 

 

Waving My Way Out Of Purgatory

Dore&Dante&PurgatoryLedge

I’m absolutely convinced that I’m going to Purgatory. I know for certain that I’m going to Purgatory. Even my high school girlfriend told me I was going to Purgatory.

“Why am I going there?” I would ask her.

“Because.” She would reply. “I saw the way you looked at me just now.”

“But I didn’t do anything,” I said.

“You didn’t have to,” she replied. “You thought about it. That’s sinful.”

I’ve even had non-Catholic friends who don’t believe in Purgatory tell me that’s where I’m going. A Rabbi once said to me:

“You’re going to Purgatory.”

“Why?” I asked. “You don’t even accept that as part of your faith. Why?”

“Just because,” was all he said.

I wasn’t going to win, so after several years of being informed of this, I knew I was going to Purgatory.

Not for all eternity, just for several hundred million years. Heaven and Hell are those places where you spend “till the end of time”, which is a kind of play on words because, theologically speaking, time does not exist in those places; therefore, there can be no end …to something that doesn’t exist.

Some things can seem eternal in this world, which does have time, like a Miley Cyrus CD, yodeling, bagpipe music and two hours of outtakes and bloopers from Duck Dynasty. These things will never really end. You just have to do the best you can.

But, I’m all about something very different here.

Theologically speaking, Heaven can be gained at the moment of death if you’ve lived a perfect sin-free life, like Mother Theresa, or Bono.

There’s no need to wash up before this dinner.

At the other end of the spectrum, theologically speaking is Hell. This place is reserved for the truly evil people who will spend the rest of…whatever. We’re talking about individuals who have done unspeakable things to other human beings. People like Hitler, Mengele, Goebbels, Jeffery Dahmer, Bernie Madoff and the person who selects the background music at Wal-Mart. (Sometimes I include Leona Helmsley on this list, but I’m still making a final decision.) Again, no need to shower before dressing for Hell.

Which brings me to Purgatory.

Theologically speaking, this is the “holding pattern” for those who aren’t in Hitler’s league or in Pope John Paul II’s dugout. It’s a time of cleansing. The little insignificant sins and transgressions need to be cauterised off your soul. These sort of actions include telling people that Loni Anderson is your wife, you’ve summited Mount Everest by holding your breath, you’ve gone over Niagara Falls with nothing but a Mylar balloon that says “Happy Birthday, Grandpa!” or telling your wife you’d like to pick up the latest Playboy “to read the fiction piece by Hemingway”.

Now, I’m fully aware that officially, the Roman Catholic Church has distanced itself from the concept of Purgatory, theologically, that is. After Vatican II, they dropped it faster than you can say “St. Christopher”.

Well, I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it. It makes all the sense in the world that you can’t go directly to The Big Creator, without first straightening your tie and spitting on your shoes.

My game plan to override this Toll Booth is rooted in the Middle Ages. This was a time when rational thought and critical thinking skills were at their highest. All one needed was to build a chapel, a convent, an Abbey or simply donate a monthly sum to the local parish, and the years you were destined to spend cleaning up for heaven would be shaved off. These were called Indulgences. Another, and cheaper, method was to pray. Not just any prayer, but certain prayers would carry an Indulgence of, say, 500 days trimmed from Purgatory. I even remember seeing how much trade-in value certain prayers carried printed in my missal. I was an altar boy so I had time do some head math and then find a pew where I could erase my Purgatory time caused by my behavior on a Friday night date.

But, I don’t have my prayer-book now, so what’s a guilty and terrified guy to do?

It’s simple. The answer presents itself to me every day.

Random acts of kindness. These must be the modern means of gaining Indulgences.

So, now when I drive into town, I’m always on the lookout for cars that are stuck in traffic on side streets. I slow and wave them in. Sometimes this causes a back up behind me, especially when the car is unable to make a move because of on-coming cars in the opposite lane. But, hey, I can wait.

I slow for pedestrians who need to cross the street. I sometimes even stop and wait for them. This can be a problem when they didn’t intend to cross the street in the first place; they were just standing on the curb taking to someone.

I make them cross the street anyway.

I’d like to think that the traffic in my town moves more smoothly since I began my efforts to trim my Purgatory time.

One thing I haven’t been able to figure out is exactly how much time (in years, days?) do I get off for my noble and selfless road behavior. I’ve asked priests this question and they just stare back at me and then move slowly away.

In the end, theological speaking, it really doesn’t matter what the algorithm is. I’ll be doing less time in the waiting room, less time waiting for the light.

Less time behind the velvet ropes that will allow me to enter the Big Night Club.

The rest of you who weren’t smart like me and planned for the future beyond your usual funeral highlights, will simply have to bide your next 400,000,000 million years.

Accidental Perfection

 

TatoosDad&Girl

I am going to do something that is so wrong, I can’t believe I’m even contemplating doing it.  There is no law that I know of that is against doing this, but it runs against the grain of logic and decency.

I am going to speculate about a man’s life.  I do not know this man.  I’ve never met him and I have absolutely no clue about his inner life.  But, I’m going to speculate about it anyway.

I need to make a point, and I have to use him to do so.

Let me repeat, I have never met this man, don’t know his name, kind of job he has, anything about his home life, marriage, upbringing, education, religious beliefs or the kind of dessert he likes after eating the kind of meal he loves (which I have no idea about).

So, lacking real information, I am forced to provide my own.  I always say: never let the facts interfere with a good story.

Let’s think about this guy’s life for a minute.  He looks fairly healthy.  He wears cool sunglasses so he is clearly aware of the value of UV protection of his retina.  He is dressed less than casual, he is not wearing a shirt.  His lip is pierced and I notice that nearly all exposed skin from his neck down is heavily tattooed.  These days, that’s not such a big whoop, but I’m an old guy.  My out-dated concept of sporting a tattoo is rife with innuendoes.  When I was young, the only people you heard about who sported tattoos were sailors and guys who walked across the floors of Texas bars, holding the skinny end of a pool cue and about two minutes away from beating some poor fellow to a bloody mess and leaving him in the floor like the killing room of an Omaha cattle processing plant.

This fellow sitting in front of me may well have done just that, in another time of his life.  Perhaps he put a needle in his arm at a cheap motel in Kansas City?  Maybe he had spent more than one night in the ‘tank’, drying out from a week-long binge drinking trip with a pal he just met in a bar in Toledo who sold Bibles, house to house.  Possibly he existed for years on a diet of peanut butter and saltines, or Dinty Moore Beef Stew?   Or, when he felt like having a gourmet meal, he would empty and slice an entire can of Spam and make a sandwich with Wonder Bread.  Maybe he went to a clinic for shots of penicillin because of a misspent weekend with a hooker from Key West. Maybe he did all these things.  Maybe he did none of them.  Maybe he ate granola and yogurt and passed on the desert of dried dates.

Perhaps he flossed every night.

So, what’s my point in inventing a possible life of unsavory actions for a guy I never saw before?

The answer is in the eyes of his daughter.  That’s the miracle of life.  That is Nature functioning and firing on all six cylinders.  What ever this guy did with his life, at the moment of conception and during the next nine months, Nature forgave him his sins and biology worked its magic.  The result is this little being of perfection that was being lovingly held in his artistic arms.

I am aways in awe of how the human body can repair, restart and move on after suffering through neglect and abuse.

Really, though.  This guy probably lived a good honest and true life.

I wouldn’t know this, however.  I never met the man.

 

Cause and Effect: My Front Porch Dilemma

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Today, on my front porch, I was faced with a dilemma.  I was a witness to an act of nature, an act that is repeated a billion times each minute here in the North Woods.  If you factor in the endless variations on this particular situation that occur world-wide, then the number is incalculable.

But I was allowed a peak of only one such entanglement.  And, that is what it was.  An entanglement.  As I stepped off the porch onto the ramp leading to the new stone walkway, something caught the corner of my left field of vision.  It was under the cornice of the roof, you know, where the giant icicle grows from November until late April.  The mass of this ice, building drop by drop, grows into something large and frightening as a homegrown glacier.  Take a portion of Niagara Falls..drop the temperature to -75 degrees and you have an inkling of what drapes itself off the corner of our roof.  I’ve considered renting it out to ice-climbers for weekend workouts and crampon practice.

Thank heavens it’s over the guest room.

But I digress.

What caught my eye was a rather large dragon-fly.  We have hundreds of them on our back deck.  I, who have a revulsion to mosquitos, black flies, spiders, snakes and larger-than-mouse-size rodents (I can’t bring myself to even utter the word), find dragon flies beautiful and non-threatening.  It’s about the only flying insect in the entire Adirondacks that is non-threatening (you can’t count moths and Monarch butterflies).  The dragon-fly mates while flying and the males is upside-down and backwards, but delicate eyes and minors might be reading this blog so I can’t go into details.  One sat on my knee a few days ago.  It was so passive and friendly, I almost gave it a name and thought about taking it for a walk.  They don’t make leashes that small, however.

My appreciation for the dragon-fly increased 1,000 % when Mariam told me she saw one eating small gnat-like things in mid-flight.  Now, there’s a bug I can like.

So, here’s the problem: this particular fly was caught in a single strand of spider web material.  As I stood looking at it, I didn’t notice the gossamer web and I thought the fly was levitating.  I knew they were really cool, but still…

I had forgotten about seeing the spider’s web a few days before.  I asked Mariam if I should swipe it away…not a good thing for visitors to see as they approach our front door.  We thought for a moment and decided to leave it unmolested.  After all, you don’t have to be Charles Darwin or John Muir to know that spiders eat insects.  (Remember, I don’t like insects…or spiders, so that was a whole other dilemma for another blog).

Back to the imprisoned dragon-fly.  I hadn’t noticed the web so I tickled it ever so slightly.  It jumped to life and tried to fly away.  But it was caught by the spider.

That’s the moment when the enormity of the situation hit me like a lug nut flying off a truck on 7th Avenue.  Should I walk away, not interfering with the cycle of nature and let the spider feast on the fly?  Or, should I deprive the spider of its honestly won reward of good home-made fly goo?

I couldn’t help but to insert the human factor (mine) into this picture.  “Take Nothing But Pictures & Leave Nothing But Footprints” is what all the signs tell us when we are in an area of great natural beauty.  And, this scene on my porch was natural beauty.

My choices were simple: do nothing and let nature “happen” i.e., the fly gets eaten, or free the fly.  Now if I interfered by freeing the fly, said fly would, hopefully, go off to eat more insects that annoyed the hell out of me.  I win.  The dragon-fly wins.  The spider loses.

Before I raised my hand, I considered further ramifications.  If the fly dies early for lack of food, he/she may not have a chance to reproduce, thus lessening the overall number of spider in the future.  If I let the fly die, there may not be time to reproduce, thus lessening the future generation(s) of dragon flies.  Therefore, more annoying insects.

I tried to project this dilemma into the distant future.  One pair of dragon flies can, conceivably, be responsible for millions of future generations of their species.  The same goes for the spider.  My actions, in the real natural world, would have far-reaching consequences.

I decided to take a moral leap into the unknown.  I freed the dragon-fly.  It didn’t hang around long enough to thank me.  Probably because it had some time in the web contemplating its short term future.  They’re not that stupid.

What made me decide to do what I did?  I think it was, while I was mulling the situation over, I was attacked by a mosquitos.

I deprived the mosquito of future generations by smashing it into a bloody spot on my forearm.