The Spider in my Garden

Summer Spider WebSpring is here, and boy am I ready. One of my favorite memories of last season was a friendship I developed with a spider that lived in my garden. She'd built her web along the deck railing and could be seen in her spot at its center each morning. I started watching because she'd decided to set up shop right next to the chair where I sat to drink my morning coffee. Being a decent housekeeper, I demolished her first web, but she rebuilt nearby (I think it was her). Her second web seemed to be less of an architectural wonder than the first, sporting gaps and odd angles in the design. It made me think of a factoid my sister-in-law told me once about spiders go mad if their webs are consistently destroyed.

After making that connection, I left her web alone, watching her in the mornings and stopping by in the afternoons to see if she'd caught anything. If I happened upon an unlikely victim that hadn't yet been entombed in silk, I would try to save him, gingerly. Sometimes I could free the unlucky fly or beetle, sometimes not. I never had much luck with moths.

Over the course of a couple of months, I watched fog beading on her web and observed her scurrying to repair wind damage, much as I was picking up wind blown twigs and pots in the yard.

She won't be back this year, of course, but her offspring may. The experience showed me a bit about the advantage of looking at the 'small' of things in the garden and elsewhere.

I'm inclined to think in terms of digging, sweeping, raking, watering, and am not usually one to pay attention to the inhabitants of that spadeful of loam that I'm carrying across the flowerbed. I plan on doing more of that this year.

I had a recurring thought while I watched the spider (I almost said my spider). A poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins kept coming to mind. I even found it in an anthology and referred to it a few times over the summer. It's not about spiders, but I'm sure you can make an association. You can follow the link to an online copy if you like: Spring and Fall

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