The physical-clock issues of Daylight Savings Time aside, there’s something beautiful about the long afternoon light at this time of year. I get to enjoy it for 136 miles every Sunday on my drive West, then North, from the house on the river.

I love the lanky shadows; the gleam and glitter of the blades of roadside grass, too long to mow at this end of the growing season. And this past Sunday, I saw something totally unexpected. A gratifying visual–and emotional–first: Angel hairs.

Not literally, of course. This is the time of year when spiders “balloon” on strands of web to travel from one place to another. That I knew. What I didn’t know, and never would have suspected to find, was a point at which countless of those shiny threads would dangle from power lines for yard after yard; platinum threads waving in the breeze, tenuous, gleaming in the afternoon light, virtually invisible outside this one particular angle of the sun.

No photo would have captured it. No roadside pulloff would have let me see it more completely than I did in my quick birder’s eye. I am not in love with spiders. But apparently I do have something to thank them for.