In our garden, we’ll remember this as the Year of the Spider. The golden slant of autumn light has come — and with it a bumper crop of spider webs.
The spiders are easy to spot, hanging head downward on their vertical webs that serve as both home and hunting ground. Just what kind of spiders are they? I searched the Other Web and found this handy identification chart on iwastesomuchtime.com.
Reference.com had better information. I learned that the classification of spiders begins with their webs. Much as children’s writers work in genres – board books, picture books, middle grade and YA — spiders spin out one of four different kinds of webs: orb, sheet, funnel and tangle.
By the shape of their art in our garden, I identified these weavers: orb spiders of the family Araneidae.
Yes, that’s the same spider family as Charlotte’s in EB White’s beloved Charlotte’s Web.
It seems fitting that they are spinning webs outside my windows while I spin a blogpost within.
Ah, that I could be so productive. Orb spiders build new webs just about every evening, after consuming the old web. Revision and more revision. Only the females weave webs. The males spend their time searching for mates. To create silk, an orb female squirts liquid out of the spinneret glands in her abdomen. It stays liquid until it hits the air, much as ideas solidify as they become words. She makes sticky silk for the circular strands, to catch insect prey, and non-sticky radials to run along: threads of dialogue and narrative; exposition and introspection.
She weaves a web from her own substance: story woven from the deepest self.
Orb spiders do not see well, despite the fact that they have eight eyes. An orb female is alerted to an insect on her web by its vibration. She runs along the radials to subdue it with a bite, sometimes wrapping it in silk for later consumption.
A writer might move blindly into a story, as well, feeling her way for the vibrations that raise the little hairs on the back of her neck, the visceral reaction that telegraphs yes, here’s a juicy story part, an idea to bite into, a just-right word to wrap in silk for future use.
My three-year old grandson took a good look at the orb spiders at his house, too. He counted five webs in the tree next to their stairs. But he doesn’t call them Araneus or even spiders. He calls them “Booby Voobek,” in the insect language that Carson Ellis invented for her brilliant book, Iz Du Tak. And there, where language and spiders collide, seems a good place to end this woven tale.
“Rup furt,” Ellis writes. Rup furt, indeed.
What a lovely piece, Laura…thank you! I will see my spiders in a different light, today in my garden. And hope that the golden autumn sun lingers, 🌞 to light their artistry!
Thanks, Karen! We deserve these golden days after those smokey summer weeks.
Iz unk scrivadelly gladdenboot!
perfectly put, Sarah. Ta, ta, furt!
Beautiful web pictures and thoughts – thank you! I heard that spider webs are high in protein, so that if a spider gets hungry it will eat its own web. Would that be like an author eating her words?
I was inspired by your Lobstervations last month to look at one thing closely.
As you well know, it’s great to be Nana.
Lovely post, Laura~and I chuckled at the Spider Identification chart 😉
Thanks, Terry! Glad to see on FB that you are still hiking the high country. Interesting spiders up there?
I must check out that website! Wonderfully written.
“Orb, sheet, funnel, tangle” ! What a lovely bunch of words. Great post, Laura. I think I’ll follow suit (yours and Julie P.’s) and look at one thing closely for my post next week.
thanks, Julie. can’t wait to read what you turn your focus on.
After reading your blogpost on the profusion of fall spiders out weaving their webs, my first thought was of FRANK, The Seven -Legged Spider! When I saw Michaele Razi last night, I mentioned your blog because I think Frank is going to make a big difference to children who read and look at his experience with a disability. Having a disability is not the only factor that makes one unique, and he can still spin amazing webs!
Thanks for mentioning this book, Gretchen! I will have to read it. Sounds like it has something to say to creative people. We are all handicapped in one way or another and i expect the art we make is better for it.