Sunday, January 29, 2012

the strangeness of spiders in winter

As I opened the curtains to let in the early morning light, peripheral vision registered the re-occurrence of Great-Grandfather Edward's spider web. Attached to the right hand side of his portrait frame, it stretches towards the window. Every few days I remove this visually offending yet innocuous construction, sometimes with the feather duster, sometimes with the vacuum cleaner or a brush. This time was different for the probable creator was there.

It was quite a large spider, with thickish, hairy legs and I sympathised for it an indignant expression where its face might be – not that I went close enough to check.
After a brief stand-off, it conceded and scuttled back behind Great-Grandfather Edward, where it knew, I assume, I could not reach. The ancestors' images are framed in heavy wood with plaster mouldings, gilded and fragile. All always have a light tracery of spider web which shows up the dust and which can be removed by the gentle plumeau. All weigh a metaphorical ton and the frames can be damaged by the metaphorical sneeze. It is only G-G Edward who attracts a noticeable spread, his portrait is the lightest but still too heavy to lift.

There is no understanding spiders. Why would this one – if there is only one - persist in re-creating its short lived web and at a time of year when there are very few insects inside the house? Except for the one remaining fly of winter, of course. Is it doing this just to annoy? And what does it do for drink, given there is no dew inside the house? Presumably it is that ubiquitous spider in the bath. Scaredy cats leave a trail of loo-paper for it to climb out, the impatient swipe it out with a face cloth or, if truly hardy, with their hand.

Another example: there was the tunnel spider this summer: it made an impressive tunnel web in the box bush with a net spreading wide into the neighbouring acanthus plants, neatly hung from its spikes. Apparently tunnel spiders are very fast at catching their prey, the lightest touch on the net and it darts out, overcomes the unfortunate and drags it back down the tunnel. Only this construction was very low down near the ground, the acanthus was not in flower, nor were the roses near it, there was very little to entice insects to wander across the web. A few leaves and petals were caught in the web.

Perhaps it was forced to become vegetarian. Apparently there is a vegetarian spider, named 'Bagheera kiplingi' but, although we had a thorn tree, still have some (French definition) acacia trees, possibly a laburnam,and unless it came in with a bunch of bananas, this Bagheera is most likely still confined to Latin America.

1 comment:

  1. hooray for another post! Not sure about that last sentence - does it have too many Dutch subordinate clauses?