Do you remember Charlotte’s Web? It’s a great book by E.B. White and then a wonderful film full of talking barn yard animals and one very special pig. My favorite character in that story is Charlotte. The beautiful Orb Weaver Spider who weaves those amazing webs that tell people how special that pig is. When she goes the way all female orb weavers go in late autumn, I cried and cried. I still get teary when I reread the story or watch the movie as and adult. I just love that spider! See, Charlotte dies. But that’s not the end of the film. Charlotte has laid her eggs and made a special silk cocoon for them and come spring they hatch. Hundreds and hundreds of little baby orb weavers.
I’ve been enjoying my own special live version of this story every year for years. Well not the words written in the webs part, none of the orb weavers around here have had any special pigs to inspire such things I guess. Though one year I discovered that a strand of my hair had been incorporated into the intricate weave of a web just outside my dining room window. That was pretty special. So each year I watch as the female orb weavers set up home around my house and grow bigger and fatter and weave bigger and bigger webs. I can stand for long stretches of time just watching them weave those webs. It’s fascinating intricate work, that web weaving.
Autumn sets in and they begin to get a little more sluggish with each passing day. Till one day they are no longer there. Overnight the spider disappears. And I begin to wonder where she has tucked her egg case away. I rarely discover it till the following spring when all of a sudden I stumble upon a hatch of hundreds of baby spiders on the edge of one of my planters, or on a fence post or any number of other places. Then I settle into watch them, checking on them over the next several days. They won’t be around for long and if I’m lucky I’ll get to see the miracle of hundreds of little baby spiders taking to the skies on little silk balloons.
Well, this year I had four different hatches show up all in a small space! Those mama spiders were busy last season! One hatch must have started out in the crevice of the boards on my porch. I could see where they had made a pathway of silk up to the edge of a nearby planter and that’s where thy were clustered together for the next couple days. Until last night. Last night I came back from my walk, the last of the light from the setting sun turning every thing rosy. I paused to sit on my steps for a moment and that is when I noticed the long strands of silk going from the planter on up into the sky to where the wires come into the house. It was a silk road of climbing baby spiders. They were on a mission. I wondered out loud to my husband if that meant that the wind was going to pick up soon. After watching for a while I went back inside and we made our way to bed.
It had been really warm that day so we had both upstairs windows open to allow any breeze that might bless us with it’s presence to be able to move through. I woke up in the early early morning to the sound of the chimes in the the other upstairs room sending their tinkling music into the air. I remember thinking for just a moment that, yes, those baby spiders had known. The wind would pick up and they were prepared for it! From this bit of observation I learned that I can predict an increase in wind based on the activity of baby orb weavers! Nature shares her secrets in such amazingly beautiful ways.
When I went out on the front porch this morning they were all gone. They must have sailed off to there new homes sometime in the night. Though I’m sure one or two didn’t get far and those one or two will end up being the ones I sit and watch weave webs and start the whole cycle over again.