Saturday, September 12, 2009


As I rounded the corner of the “potting shed”---myspeak for the big dark cavern, originally THE garage, with space for one car, a peagravel floor, and rickety roll-up door we manhandled down and had hauled away, substituting a succession of “tarps” hooked by their grommets onto stout nails to keep the elements away from the lawn equipment, tools, snow-blower and stored lawn furniture---I came upon this:

Almost walked face-first into it, in fact, as the shine of it was visible more from the other side. The dangly leaf caught my eye as I neared it, a ghostly little wisp of pale flutter in the breeze, and I stopped in my tracks, just before I stepped up onto the small wooden platform which hosts the five spare grills and three beautiful yellow iron garden chairs, each bottomless and cradling an immense pot of herbs. I stood still, taking in the intricacies of the web, the sunshine on the filaments, the absolute marvel of it. Purely from an engineering standpoint alone, it’s a miracle, just hanging in the air.

It’s a succession of little ladders, wide ones and narrow ones, close-spaced rungs in places, and wide-flung gaps in others. And it hangs from the eaves of the shed, secured there in possibly a half-dozen spots, with two guy-wire contrivances splayed eye-god-Ethel distances in spider-steps at least eight feet apart.

See, there, to the far left---that thinthin line going off and down reaches the floor seven feet away; how DID she do it? Did she get that first wisp of silk attached, then float over, on the first rappel? Did she drop straight down, then walk to her chosen destination, spinning out that silver stream unbroken all the way?

I can see her fervent attention to the attaching of the anchor, then the quick climb back up the line, to knit and stitch and crochet that intricate, deadly doily into the air. How she flew and spun and drifted, the instinct of eons guiding the plan, with one intent and one purpose. No clanking loom nor clacking mill could have made this one-of-a-kind perfection. No human hand could achieve this pure line of thinner-than-a-hair thread.

The sheer logistics of the thing is amazing, with all that dedication to detail and grasp of the pattern, down to the strengths of her materials and her own weight upon the net. It boggles, it does, that flyspeck brain and that single-minded determination working in tandem to create something so lethal and so lovely.

I’ve always had an affinity for spiders; I drop an upside-down glass over them, gently slide a piece of paper beneath, and take them outdoors. In a pinch, I’ve been known to grab one with my fingers to rescue it from drowning in the sink. The big shrub out back is home to Mistress Octavia, Ogress of the Weatherbush; she greets me with bright eyes from her silken funnel, and we give each other the deserved respect. And my admiration grows, it does. It grows.


Anonymous said...

Incredible! I love spider webs. Keep us posted through time to see how it survives. I saw a cobweb on my chandelier the other day...horrors...if it had been a beautiful weaving such as yours, I would have been tempted to leave it. :) One of the most fragile yet strongest things in the world. I remain amazed at each one. Charlotte's Web has always been a favorite story and my children grew up on that movie.

Thanks again to a painter of words for the lovely scenes,
Janie in Texas

racheld said...

You're quite welcome, Janie, always.

Our grandchildren are great devotees of Charlotte and Wilbur, as well, and the story of GrandDaughter #2 and her piggybank, Wibbers, is family legend.

Jan said...

I have noticed more and more spiders out now that fall is near. The intricacies of the webs are fascinating.

Always Growing

Nail said...

Hi Big Sis! I'm back and well and wishing you much love! I see your spider web and I remember your oldest nephew from me....going out back toward the hill at our house...this is Texas, of course, and the spider webs are made of Navy Ship Rope at the very least...he walked right into it at dusk and turned into Steve Martin trying to escape if you can picture that in your mind!!! The sad part is it was my hubby's favorite spider that he had encouraged her weeks and weeks!

racheld said...

AWWW, Poor Beasley!!! (You DO know I'M LAUGHING, right? I can just see that long-tall kid, all flailing arms and legs, fighting off phantoms in the dark. Gee, I hope this chair dries by morning).

And poor Hubby and Spider-Girl! I do hope he went out and helped her file her HomeOwner's claims.