Otis & Friends 5I’m Otis, Prairiewoods’ favorite squirrel, and I’ve taken over this blog for 2016 in honor of Prairiewoods’ 20th anniversary. You’ll hear from me or one of my friends each Friday.

You may not think of squirrels and spiders as being particularly good friends, but all the critters at Prairiewoods have grown close over the last 20 years of living together. When the dust cleared after the awesome Sweetgrass Flute & Nature Festival here a few weeks ago, I couldn’t find my friend Brown Spider. I was starting to get worried, until I received a letter from her …

My Dearest Otis & Friends,

I wanted to take a minute out of your busy day gathering nuts preparing for the winter months coming up to let you know I have moved. It was a quick and unexpected decision for me. Remember just a little while ago we had some “Sweet” music floating through the “grass.” It was during that time that I was noticing there were more of our human friends visiting our home at Prairiewoods. With all the extra foot traffic through my grassy home, I thought it would be a good idea to find a more protected place to wait out the crowds.

I noticed that the side vertical opening of the large permanent structure was opening and closing more often than usual. I attached myself to one of the human visitors and rode safely through the opening and immediately dropped off. Still unsecure with all the foot traffic I ducked under the first vertical opening possible and found a quiet cave. There was one inviting canvas cloth that seemed like a great place to stay while all the extra humans were among us. I snuggled down in and took a long nap.

spiderLittle did I know that at the end of the day the canvas started moving, and I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up. Several times I heard slamming of medal doors and then I felt less movement and more vibrations for about 15 minutes. Then all the vibrating stopped and the canvas cloth started moving again. By this time I was really scared, not knowing what was happening to me. Then the world stopped moving and just seemed to go extremely dark and quiet for about nine hours. I was starting to settle in and then the world got brighter. I almost shot out all my web when the canvas cloth opened and I saw a very surprised human face. I was hoping I wouldn’t get squished. I have found that most of our human visitors at Prairiewoods are kind, and this human got over her shock and gently carried the canvas outside and introduced me to my new exotic home in Marion. I hope the winters are shorter and warmer here!

So don’t worry about me … I know I will be happy in my new home. Goodbye and blessings!

—Brown Spider (as dictated to Lois Ocenosak, volunteer and program participant)