Spiders


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Daily, on the perimeter of nearby homes, exquisite female figures of spined micrathena
spin their silken geometry for prey–

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everywhere inviting closer inspection and
further exploration for their stunning suspension in the creekside air.

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Here a Paraphidippus aurantius, traversing a fence from post to post,
appears a bit flummoxed to meet me leaning upon the rail.

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Mutually improvising our turns and impressions, I was finally pleased
to observe the jumping spider continue undeterred along its way.

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September sun rising on the web,

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a nearby male sets in shade,

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and silk spun round a Rose of Sharon leaf

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folds a female home.

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Back at the start of March, my buddy Tony found a string of egg sacs in his bushes and generously offered them to me for suspense & safekeeping.

As I learned last fall with some black soldier fly larvae, these things are best put aside in a jar and forgotten awhile.

Then, sure enough, in the middle of May, a jarful of tiny spiderlings hatched and went straight to work suspending themselves in captivity.

Anxious for their healthy adjustment, I showed off the newborn basilica orbweaver spiders for only a short time, then set them and the emptying egg sacs down upon an azalea.

Within half an hour, they’d quickly dispersed in several directions beside Little Crum Creek.

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Soon after, I began watching the brush for them, wondering how the growing arachnids would fare.

There was no sign of any in May or June when the venusta orchard spiders seemed predominant.

But then in July, having succeeded orchard spiders throughout the herbaceous layer, grown basilica orbweavers suddenly appeared everywhere.

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Some of these pictures demonstrate the typical flat and circular style of web spun by all kinds of orbweavers.

But you’ll also detect the vaulted dimension of the spinnings which earned these particular spiders the name “basilica.”

I wonder, could a few of these divine architects be grown versions of our midfathered hatchlings?  Perhaps.

In any case, as July progressed, the basilica orbweavers showed themselves comfortable enough to couple here.

And they’ve begun suspending another generation of egg sacks that an adult usually tends.  Gifts that keep giving.  I guess I’ll pay them forward.

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Surely a spider’s beauty includes its ability to stay hidden in plain sight.

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A venusta orchard spider, for example, often shows the taller world an intricately patterned bottom side that blends well to the background of its shrub-spun web.

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And those of us who would glimpse a distinctly different side of the spider
must take a knee before it …

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decreasing, so to speak, to witness its increase.

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The vision, then, is ours.

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For, seen or not, the spider carries on in its usual way — spidering.

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And we decide, based on how we go about seeing, how to be ourselves.

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“The sensorial landscape … not only opens into that distant future waiting beyond the horizon but also onto a near future, onto an immanent field of possibilities waiting behind each tree, behind each stone, behind each leaf from whence a spider may at any moment come crawling into our awareness.”   *

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Here by Little Crum Creek, a grass spider has spun its home on some pokeweed.

Emerging from funneled retreat between leaves, it will dash across a dew-dappled plane to capture some prey.

Insects don’t stick to its web.  Instead, overhead threads waylay them enough for the spider, in a flash, to get its way.

Tens of these deceptions dot the hillside.  And autumn’s morning sun reveals them.

Here & there, dampened filaments glisten upon ivy, summersweet, azalea, grass, and even the wooden railings of backdoor steps.

Our warm days are passing. But still we can meet the spider:  Get our shoes wet.  Crouch beside a reflective plane.  Peek behind its surface, inside a crispy, curled, brown leaf thought hollow.  Or simply wait, as any spider in the tunnel of a moment has waited  …  calls of jays, a rising sun, the leafy rustle of squirrels  …  and see what comes.

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A niece discovered this parson spider crossing the living room floor.

But, at half an inch, it can be easy to miss.   Despite the silk-extruding spinnerets visible on its back end, the parson won’t spin a conspicuous web in the air.

It hunts by contact, usually at night, and on the ground.

In fact, some nocturnal battle with unyielding prey could explain its missing leg.

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