After lunch I go back to my tent to grab something, only to feel a tickle on my neck. I brush it off and look up, and there is a black spider with a brush of white paint down his back, staring at me. I move right. He moves right. I move left. He moves left. And then, he leaps off my tent and starts to clamber after me. He puts his head down and walks, then looks up as if to gauge my location, then puts his head down and leaps forward again.
It turns out that he is a jumping spider. They hunt not with webs, but by using their web as a safety cord before jumping on the head of their prey and turning the hapless insect’s guts to juice. They have amazing eyesight, and can even recognize different colors. They are also completely harmless, despite their stalker tendencies. I lure him a good distance from my tent and leave him to seek more hapless prey.
Finally, one grant down. Kelly and Andrew have finished their lesson plans for Wildlife Club summer camp, which begins next week. The Scholars have a little time off today, and they go to play soccer. Although, there is a problem. There is only one ball, and “the girls need their own ball to play with,” say the boys. Kelly sets them straight. "First of all, why didn't you give them the ball and come get a different one from me?" Then she continues, “How can you say they need their own ball? Does a leader take the ball and say, this is mine! Get your own! No. Leaders share.” Sheepish, the students crowd back around her, “We were wrong, Kelly, forgive us… and give us the ball.” She gives the girl the inflated ball and gives the boys the new, not-yet-inflated one, "Here, go find Neo and do this yourselves."
At 6:30, I take a break and read through the blogs of other Nicholas School students. Alison is headed out into the fields of snow leopard territory to do her survey work. Mark is padding down the Mississippi. The writings of both of them arrest me. Every day it seems they travel for miles and miles, while I am quietly here, space wheeling around me. My world stretches to the horizons, encompasses a view of wooded savannah for miles beyond miles, and indeed, the brightest stars in the Milky Way, and yet it is no larger than the path between the staff quarters, my tent, and the program office. By this token, too, it is the smallness of my world that permits me to see my jumping spider friend, termite tracks across my table, the scramble of a weaver at my passing. It is the smallness that drives me into my own head every day so that I may think deeply about my work, that I may rise to the challenges of my mind, and steadily contemplate the future.