Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It ain't Disneyland


Orb-Weaver Spider

One of the consequences of hitting a wooded trail early in the morning is that you get a lot of cobwebs in the face. The spiders work all night putting up their nets to catch a nice meal, and then careless humans like myself come charging through and demolish them. Usually I just have to brush a few strands of silk from my eyes, but every so often I'll run into a major arachnid construction and be left covered with stickiness, not to mention ensnared prey, or even the spider herself. I always apologize, but the spiders still seem quite put out.

If I run into other early hikers, they will often complain about the cobwebs. One guy even swings a stick out ahead of him to clear the trail. I understand why he does it--picking spider silk off your glasses and out of your hair is not much fun--but I can't help thinking that he and I see our time in the woods very differently. Carrying a cobweb cudgel is about the last thing that would occur to me. It seems so hostile. Even if I could magically wish away the cobwebs, I wouldn't. The truth is, I kinda like the little annoyances of the outdoors: the cobwebs, the mosquitos, the yellow jackets, the sudden rainshowers, the occasional anointing with bird poop or squirrel pee--all those things are as essential to a walk in the woods as the scent of the cedars or the sight of a fawn.

I don't want to wrestle rattlesnakes, and nobody avoids poison ivy more diligently than me, but I wouldn't want my little taste of nature to be too blandly idyllic. Just as part of the charm of the city lies in its touch of chaos and mild dangers, so the lure of the forest is incomplete without a little possibility of hurt.

10 comments:

helg said...

The forests do have their treasures and it needs a little bravery to venture there and a little respect (we agree).
Cowebs are so gossamer-light and intricate; they do present a magical sight...
I have respect for spiders and arachnoids: they eat more pestilent insects. There's a reason they were put on earth and I would never kill any of them even in the house (although they're really small here) if they do not present any danger. Much less in their natural habitat.

chayaruchama said...

I'm with you girls...
It's a known fact that I scurry these critters out of my abode intact, rather than harm them, if I can.

Hey, life ain't sanitary- or tidy...
What can I tell you.

Mary said...

I've always heard that you should never kill a spider in your home, lest bad luck, plague and pestilence descend on you. If I recall, there is some goddess myth associated with the spider (Aradnia?).

Leopoldo said...

I'm a spider lover. I get covered in threads just making my way downstaris to fix the morning coffee...

Bozo said...

A highly evolved garden spider has stretched his web across the outside of our bathroom window. At night, the light through the glass draws all manner of flying insects to his lair. Moment by moment he falls on the trapped bugs, kills them, and wraps them in silk. It's tooth and claw all the way, and it's as much fun as watching the poor suckers who show up at night court.

Phydeaux Speaks said...

I feel sorry for people who, unlike you (and me), cannot fully appreciate Nature. I do my best to live by the slogan, "Take only pictures (or memories), leave only footprints."

And the Secret Lair (aka '73 Winnebago) has lots o' li'l spiders in the corners....

Renee said...

I guess I'd better hide my can of Raid when y'all come over...

BitterGrace said...

I don't know if the cosmos reads my blog or what, but this morning I plowed through no less than 5 big webs. I was practically cocooned.

Bozo, I had a clever spider like that last fall, at the corner of my porch. I watched her for hours on end.

Leo, can we all come to your house and play with the spiders? I bet even Renee would be charmed by old English house spiders.

Dawn said...

Non-spider slayer here also. If one is in our house, we humanely remove it and put it back outside. :)

I have an immense respect for all of creatures big and small. I drive my family nuts when we take walks because I am constantly picking up struggling earthworms who slithered onto the sidewalk and got stuck there. My daughter thinks I am a freak but I don't care. At least they got a second chance. ;0

Orb weavers are starting to crop up all over my neighborhood. They seem to come out late July through September. Then they all mysteriously disappear until next summer.

Off to check out that site you mentioned... what a bug.

Happy trails!

Dawn

helg said...

Since Mary brought this up. There IS a myth about spiders. A greek myth ;-)

It involved Arachne, a famous and beautiful athenian weaver girl who once bragged about how she was superior in her craft even above Athena. That was considered hybris (to deem oneself above the gods).
TSo the girl and the challenged goddess entered a competition on who would present the most beautiful artwork and of course in the end Athena won. As she was compassionate though and didn't want to punish her human competitor too severely, she turned her into the spider ("arachne" in greek, hence arachnoids) so she could continue weaving for the rest of her lifetime...