The Spider, The Seed & The Swallow: 3 Lessons on Trust from Nature

July 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Nature Space

Web 2 by Amy Palko

Web 2 by Amy Palko

Lesson 1 – Trusting Yourself

A single silken thread spans the distance between dustbin and windowpane.  The spider responsible depends from a second thread as it plans its web.  Moving from bin to window to sticky silk, an intricate, delicate design materialises thanks to the methodical attentions of the tiny creature.

By morning, the web, this masterpiece of nature, reflects the dawn’s rays in its many dew drops, and it is truly dazzling in its radiant splendour.  Then, before the dew has evaporated in the strengthening sun, the web is demolished as I drag the bin round to the front of the house for its weekly collection.

The spider, undaunted, begins again this time in a new, potentially safer location between windowpane and pebble-dashed wall.  Things may fall apart, but it is always within us to build again and build better.

Lesson 2 – Trusting Your Children

Make a Wish by Amy Palko

Make a Wish by Amy Palko

The blossom, having displayed its glorious, vibrant petals, has now passed.  It has undergone a curious transformation, whereby it has exchanged its yellow lionheaded bloom for a fluffy halo of seeded wishes.  The dandelion clock clings to its tiny brown children readying them for the open spaces of the big wide world.

The inevitable gust of wind, broken slightly by the long ripening grasses, brushes the cloudlike seedhead and the dandelion lets go…

It lets go of its seeds, trusting its progeny to the will of the zephyrs and the breezes that will carry them far and wide as it disperses with random ease.  The small and seemingly insignificant seeds hitch a ride on the air currents: waltzing over fields and meadows, car parks and supermarkets, farmyards and playgrounds, suburban order and urban hubub.

And then the wind dies down and the seeds settle, finding their place in the world, forming roots, growing strong.

The dandelion, now bereft, maintains its faith in the seeds’ survival and in their ability to thrive no matter where they may find themselves.  By relinquishing control, our children forge their independence and their spirits soar.

Agricultural Patchwork by Amy Palko

Agricultural Patchwork by Amy Palko

Lesson 3 – Trusting Home

The arrival of the feathered, fork-tailed shape against the deep azure blue heralds summer in Scotland.  Every year, I watch for their distinctive silhouettes swooping and diving across a ripening patchwork of crops and listen out for their sweet call.

They enact a ritual yet playful dance of courtship: the two birds flying close and then pulling away, encircling and diverting, diving and soaring.  Flashes of red plumage held in contrast with otherwise dark feathers.

After a summer of productive frivolity in which mates were well met, nests constructed, and young raised, the temperature dips, and signals that it is time to press onwards: onwards to a place where the sun shines and the land resists the cold.

They take to the skies, their cries rising and falling as they climb higher and higher, driven on by an irrepressible urge to fly south for the winter, to leave the winter to those hardier souls whose hearts can resist the icy Arctic blast.

However, the swallow knows he will return.  As it is inscribed in his genetic code to migrate to warmer climes when the land of the north turns white with frost, so it is inscribed that he will fly home when the thaw is complete, the days lengthen and everyone’s attention turns to the changing of the seasons.

On his flight south and his return back north, the swallow never doubts his own ability to find home, or that home will welcome him with its regular familiarity.  Home for us may be a place or a person, a habit or a habitat, but, like the swallow, we must never undermine our trust in ourselves to relocate it, as our inner compass points true north regardless.


9 Responses to “The Spider, The Seed & The Swallow: 3 Lessons on Trust from Nature”
  1. Chris says:

    Simple but powerful lessons from such simple but glorious beauty
    thanks Amy

  2. Jim Mahan says:


    Very well written. Your use of the written word to describe the simple things in life is inspiring.

    Nice post, thanks!

  3. Your use of the Dandelion is perfect. As my kids are racing off to bigger things, it’s a nice picture to keep close.

  4. Matt Shields says:

    Great, Amy. Lesson 2 is so close to home right now. My eldest is a mere two weeks from getting her driver’s license. My little girl will now be able to go further from home without me, my wife, or anyone than ever before. Her excitement = my anguish.

  5. amypalko says:

    Thank you, Chris! I’m always a bit nervous about posting these pieces, but your lovely words have sent the butterflies free :-)

    I so appreciate that, Jim. I truly believe that love is in the details of the everyday, and that’s something that I try to illuminate in my words and in my images.

    Thanks Fred – it was actually my dad who suggested that the trust demonstrated by plants when they release their seeds was a great example of a lesson in trust from nature. I found it such a powerful analogy for parenthood, so I’m glad you do too!

    Well, Matt, she’s done one better than me, as I’m now 30 and have yet to get my driver’s license! Wishing her all the very best, and wishing you grace to cope with her growing independence :-)


  6. karen says:

    Amy, thank you so much for sharing this with us. Your words and pictures are beautiful.

    Lesson 2 hits home for me, as one child approaches his 20th birthday… and another is set to get her learners permit so she can learn to drive.

    I remember Leah Maclean sharing a very wise saying with me once when I was fretting about my kids flinging themselves out into the big wide world (and as I write this, my eldest has just driven off on his big red motorbike…). She told me “The wisdom of the Universe resides in my children, and they will be alright.”

    I tell myself that, often. I’m now going to remind myself of the dandelion seeds also as I (slowly) relinquish control. Thank you.

  7. You write these daily details pieces beautifully, Amy. I fell in love with your work after the first photograph and the first paragraph. Please don’t ever be hesitant. You are one of those people who were born understanding symbols and signposts sent straight to the spirit, the universal code that helps us all unlock the meaning of life in the tinest details of nature – a seed, a thread, a whisp of cloud or a lapping wave. But the talent, your real gift, is the ease with which you pass on those secrets with hands outstretched so that we all benefit. Thank you. ~janice