I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Little Miss Muffet faces her Fears

A couple of weeks ago I told you about my visit to Sacramento to see my friend "C".  Then I was off to my sister's for a week and I almost forgot about THE INCIDENT.  First of all, I want you to take a good look at this photo that I took of an exceptionally beautiful Crepe Myrtle tree in the parking lot at "C"s apartment complex. Do you see that dark spot in the upper middle of the photo?
That is a very big SPIDER.
I was walking across the parking lot to my car and I saw this beautiful Crepe Myrtle tree in front of the car. I wanted to take a picture of the tree, so I unlocked the passenger side of the car and threw in everything except my Nikon and walk over to the curb near the tree. This is such an auto pilot thing for me to do that I sometimes don't think about where I'm walking. I just take the lens cap off and start shooting.
I stepped up onto the curb, looked through the camera and walked toward the tree. I often walk with my camera in front of my face and one of these days I'm going to trip on something and fall and break my neck. It's a really bad habit.
The tree was so beautiful with the afternoon sun filtering down through the branches. The iron fence and the stone pillars were behind the tree and I was busy framing the shot. All of a sudden I saw this dark blot  MOVING around in front of my lens. and at the same time I felt something touch my hand. I know the feeling of spider webs. My adrenaline is programed for SPIDER WEBS. I shot back into the parking lot and make a very strange noise. It's seems that I had been so busy trying to shoot this lovely tree that I failed to see this HUGE web in front of the tree and  the HUGE SPIDER preparing for dinner in the middle of it.
A man and woman that were getting into a car across the parking lot asked me what I was doing and walked over. I showed them the spider, pointing with my finger because I hadn't gotten my speech back yet. and he said..." OMG! That's a big spider.".... "Really?" I said as my voice quivered and restored itself. Then he said,. "It's a good thing you didn't run into it." My whole body vibrated at the thought. All I could say was "Yea.". If that spider had attached itself to me I would have been jumping up and down, running around and slapping myself all over that parking lot.... doing my famous Spider Dance. That's the dance I do at home when a spider crawls on me while I'm sitting quietly on the couch.
I was trying to be polite but my heart was beating so fast I thought I was going to have to sit down . I finally pulled myself together and we started talking about what kind of spider this might be. As far as I was concerned it was a BIG SPIDER. They said it was probably an Orb Weaver. They acted like they had studied these things in college. Do people actually study spiders as a major?
I decided to look calm and cool about all this so I took another picture....
 The web was a mess and she looked very annoyed. I guess all spiders look annoyed. I just never noticed before. She was moving all around trying to fix the web and there was a blob of white like a cotton ball above her. That could have been ME.
I do want you to know that I cropped these pictures in my Picasa 3 photo program. I was not this close to her. I'm sure I looked very professional but I was still in the parking space with a few feet between myself and her scary little body.  Then, as I took these pictures, I started to see her in a different light.
She was really quite beautiful. I thought to myself that her life must be a life of constantly putting things back together and looking for food.... and finding a mate....and having babies...and trying to make ends meet, so to speak. Not unlike most of us.
 Her abdomen looked like one of those big reflecting balls over a dance floor with glass pieces all over it that spins and reflects little bits of light on the dancers. She was really quite elegant.
The couple said goodbye and left. I was relieved that I could stop acting like I was all into this spider.... but  truth be known, I was finding her very interesting and maybe that's what has changed since this near death experience. I actually found a spider in the bathtub the other night, scooped it up into a plastic cup (with a lid on it of course) and took it outside. That's a breakthrough. I will even read more about them. But, I still don't want them touching me with their Apical claws or their Chelicerae. See, I looked that up.
I took a few photos of the Crepe Myrtle and headed for home. I think I saw her watching me as I pulled out of the parking space. She was probably glad to see me go. She was probably thinking.., "Clumsy old woman. First it's a bird, then it's a dragonfly and now this. Can't a spider ever get a break?"
So I leave you with two photos of the bottom of the Crepe Myrtle tree (Lagerstroemia Indica) because  I had to take my shot from  UNDERNEATH the web.
Look at the roots. Aren't they amazing? The tree bark becomes textured and slick as it sheds and grows.They are lovely little trees. This is a beautiful specimen.
Ms. spider wasn't attached to the tree. Her web was strung from the light standard to the iron fence. although she did have a neighbor on the other side of the tree that was attached. It's probably a good place at night because of the overhead light standard. Moths love to fly into those lights. I do hope she catches a lot of small insects. See? I understand her and the work involved with being a spider. I just want them to stay outside.... and quit running across the rug on warm summer nights... and never drop on me when I'm in bed.... and to stop sitting in my bathtub. Is that asking too much?


  1. I "dance" like you do whenever I run into a spider or web ;) Then I feel itchy for an hour or so.

    It's interesting how Nature has adapted to us, how the spiders use the artificial lights to their advantage! Although the foolish moths haven't learned.

  2. That is a huge spider. I hate when I walk into a spider web, gives me the creeps. Your photos are great. Love the tree. Thanks for your visit to my last post. Have a blessed day. Madeline

  3. She really is quite elegant. I'd prefer that spiders not share my space either, but most are beneficial and I won't kill them. Well, except for those huge wold spiders that love my classroom and hallways at school. There, I show no mercy.

  4. Oh boy can I relate to this story! It is the season of spider webs in the meadow where I walk and I must look quite silly walking with my twig in front of me waving it up and down to keep away stray webs. I try NOT to destroy these lovely works of art if I can and, like you, have found such beauty and inspiration in these creatures. I too have learned to scoop them outside...even the big scary wolf spiders! What a lovely story.

  5. I would never make fun of or ridicule anyone for their fears. Rational or not, fear is fear. I’m not saying your fear of spiders is irrational, fear is what keeps us from walking into dangerous things that we don’t enough about yet. My husband is like that with both spiders and snakes. I saw him walk on water once, trying to get away from a harmless little water snake. It was NOT a water mocassin, as he would have you believe. Back to spiders. I’m glad to see that you did manage to find the beauty in her. I have always been intrigued with spiders and I refuse to kill them. When they come into the house, I pick them up and set them outside. Do you remember when we were kids and caught all sorts of bugs, butterflies, etc and (after they were dead) mounted them? With the help of my Uncle Bud, I had a fabulous spider board, including a Mexican red kneed tarantula----exceptionally beautiful. As an adult, in Livermore, I had black widows in the damp ivy. Each spring I would dig in and trim it back, and I never remembered to wear gloves. And, each year, at least one black widow would crawl onto my hand. As with bees, if you don’t panic and just calmly move your hand to where she can crawl off, away she goes looking for a mate with whom to get her jollies! Then eat him!!!
    I loved your pictures----especially the “close-ups” of the spider. ~Dawn

  6. Good for you girl! They're just out there doing their job, and in todays' economy, we all know how hard it can be keeping our families fed, and a roof...errmmm "web" over our heads. ;)

    I used to practically pass out at the sight of spiders, but I have to admit that they've definitely grown on me. Some of them anyway. ;) I do love the beautiful Golden Orbs we get around here, and I like the little black camel-humped ones that weave their messy little webs near the outside window and eat tons of skeeters!
    Eating skeeters is definitely a PLUS, in my book!

  7. OMG.......... you had me laughing! I too do the spider dance. especially the big ones! why is it we are so afraid of them. they are so much smaller, they are probably petrified of us.

  8. I feel ashamed thinking of all the (probably) beautiful spiders I've seen over the years and never once taken a photo of. Spiderwebs, yes, but if I see a spider the flight response kicks in pretty quickly and I'm gone.
    I have to admit your spider is beautiful, a little natural disco ball. But trees are more my thing and that is a beautiful Crepe Myrtle.
    Loved this post!

  9. I deeply relate to this story too. I have a childhood fear of spiders that has gradually grown into respect and admiration...still, the irrational fear has never gone away. There are so many spiders in my backyard I have to watch where I step this time of year. I think your wonderful story has inspired me to write about them!


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