The first time my car hit a tumbleweed, it exploded and I yelped. I wasn't expecting it to fragment into a thousand splinters, pelting my windshield. The following times I ran over tumbleweeds, I would flinch, but they always submitted to the weight of my car and died a quiet death.
Looking up at a clearing in the trees on a dark winter day.
When I went to college, it was far from my rainy Seattle and the different, arid landscape there led to a proliferation of tumbleweeds. Sometimes whole herds of them would cross the road, letting out a satisfying crunch when stomped on (or run over). The first time I saw one, I was excited--these were things only before seen in old western movies! The magic never really quite left for me, and now I think of them whenever I see a twiggy, scraggly mass, like this lichen or the empty tree branches in the winter.
Lichen clinging to a small branch.