Weaving Magic

I’ve decided to think differently about spiders.

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Spinning magic in my  tiny garden

 

It’s not a new year’s resolution exactly, because I think making those is setting one’s self up for failure. I’ve just decided to rid myself of the belief that spiders are out to get me; that they’re bent on frightening the devil out of me. Umm … momentary lapse there. As I was saying, I’m changing the way I view spiders.

Arachnophobia runs in my family. I remember as a small child seeing my mother paralysed with fear when a large hairy huntsman spider dropped onto her shoulder while she was doing the laundry. In those days bed sheets were boiled in a large copper tub filled with water and prodded with a long wooden rod (Yes, I am that old). This took place in a semi-detached laundry which, in old houses like ours, was really a bit of a lean-to with no interior lining. It provided easy access for spiders. In fact, it seemed to be a preferred location for ambushing arachnophobes like us.

 

 

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Female Huntsman Spider (Delena cancerides) image courtesy of Bryce McQuillan.

 

The look of abject horror on my mother’s face when that huge hairy spider sprung onto her shoulder has stayed with me all these years. It was my earliest realisation that such fears can be transferred through families. Her reaction was excessive. Shrieking and frantically brushing at the same time, she then bent over to vomit, her terror was so great. The incident left an indelible impression on me – not a good one. Goodness only knows how the terrified spider felt.

A few days ago I went into my garden to see how it had weathered the rain of the previous night. Across the path, strung between branches, was a beautiful diamond necklace. Well, not an actual necklace, nor one of diamonds either, but the effect was no less awe-inspiring.

During the night a spider had spun a delicate web strung with raindrops which, lit with the sun’s rays, was enchanting to behold. I was surprised the weight of the suspended water drops hadn’t destroyed the web. Remembering the incredible strength spider silk has, perhaps it wasn’t so surprising after all. I’m not sure what kind of spider was responsible because she wasn’t home at the time. I was hoping for a Golden Orb Spider because of the fascinating facts about them, but alas, the silk was not golden which is what sets the Golden Orb web apart.

My metaphor compass spins off its axis when I think of the insights offered by spiders and their webs. One thing I’ve learnt is how knowing more about the things we fear can dispel that fear or at least make it more manageable. Reading the children’s classic, Charlotte’s Web by E.B White to my children, gave us insight into life from another perspective. That this perspective was an imagined one did not lessen the impact it had on us. It offered up new ways of viewing the objects of old fears.

I was also reminded of the value of resilience when I inadvertently walked into the web completely destroying it, only to see it magically reappear the next day. Any rumours of squealing and frantic brushing of web from my hair are spurious.

We are all spinners of destiny, weaving desires and aspirations into the kind of life we want, sometimes to have our webs torn down. Like the spider, we must keep weaving.

So while I’m not making resolutions as such for this new year, I am resolving to confront my fears and strive to develop greater resilience; valuable attributes in this rapidly changing and challenging world of ours.

What about you?

Wishing every one of my gentle readers a happy and peaceful year ahead. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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42 responses to “Weaving Magic

  1. I’ve given up on New Year’s resolutions too, but I’m hoping to introduce more change and variety into my life this year. I’ve got a little too settled of late.

    As for spiders: I love them, but I do like to see them before they see me – particularly the very large ones.

    I much admired an orb web (Miranda) who sat inside my garden tap during the day. I had to train myself not to turn the tap on. By night she mended and sat in the web that hung from the tap to the window sill.

    Miranda made her egg web in the tap, and not long after that I noticed what looked like a curled up dried leaf stuck in the centre of her web. On closer inspection the “leaf” proved to be a very tightly woven piece of web, and I could glimpse Miranda’s little knees and elbows poking out. Over a couple of days, both orb web and “leaf” blew away. I still wonder if Miranda’s last work was to weave her own shroud.

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    • I loved Miranda’s story. How interesting how she wove a little nest for herself. It would be good to know her fate. I envy your lack of fear, Denise. I find spiders fascinating and can watch them from a distance. Up close is another story though, especially if they get in my hair.
      I know what you mean about comfortable ruts. I’ve already set in train a few challenges for the year. I think its essential. I hope the year ahead is full of promise for you.

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      • It is! More travel, and perhaps moving house. A new location to explore.

        Miranda’s tap was taken over by a daughter, whose entire courtship ritual and consummation I was lucky enough to watch. Sadly, I didn’t have a camera capable of close-up photography back then. The chances of my being around when another male orbweb starts to strum a little signal on the outside thread of a female’s web are very slight, I fear.

        No-one occupied the tap after the daughter, so the garden hose is back on it now!

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      • You are a keen observer encouraging me to research the golden orbs a little more. Probably not the same as yours but perhaps I’ll be lucky enough to spot similar behaviour. Have you tried close up photography with your phone? I find mine is quite good to a point as long as I have good light.

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      • After the spider episode I bought a camera with a Zoom; it also works well in dim light without a flash. I didn’t have a phone camera back then. I think I could use the phone I have now for close-ups – but I need to practice.

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  2. Good luck with this, Robyn. I’ve been gradually overcoming my fear of spiders (and crane flies) and found that inventing an image of them as inept ballet dancers who wear multicoloured socks, has helped me see them as less threatening. That said, if I know I have a venomous spider in the house, I am very respectful of it. While they are not as big as their American or Australian relatives, we get some wolf spiders here and I’m aware that a bite from one could be bad news. There have been a series of them living on the floor of our utility room (where we have our washing machine and dryer). They live just under the skirting board. From time to time I take photos of them to see them more closely from a distance and to make sure they are boys because if I see a girl with its back full of spiderlings clinging on to their mamma, I’m afraid the whole family are going to rehomed!

    Your poor mother. Did she never overcome her arachnophobia? Mine had a similarly extreme reaction to mice.

    It might help you if you can learn to see spiders as ‘cute’. Try watching some of the youtube vidos of the little jumping spiders – their main pair of eyes is big and they keep their front pairs of legs held near their faces, so they don’t look very spiderlike.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My goodness Val, sounds like you’re living with some serious creepy crawlies. I’m aware of the wolf spider. We have a variety here. Mum was at the extreme end of the phoibic spectrum but fortunately over the years I’ve been able to happily live with most garden spiders – from a reasonable distance. The little ones are okay. The jumping, hopping and springing ones give me the willys. You never know which way they’re going to go.
      I like your way of re-framing perceptions though. Will give the funny socks and inept dancing images a go. Thank you for the advice.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Robyn, i don’t mind spiders at all but then again here in the U.K. We don’t have the danderous ones you have in OZ. I too remember clothes being boiled in a copper and then put into a poss tub and bashed with a dolly stick. I am that old too!
    BTW love the photo of the web and its diamonds. When I see raindrops on water, I like to think of them as diamond dewdrops, mainly that’s when it’s warm in summer and we get a sudden heavy shower.

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  4. Hi darlIng. Thought I’d send this onto you with the discussions about fear of spiders! I know you work hard to conquer your fear of them. You are certainly not alone. The webs are lovely though. It was really lovely out on the water this morning. 😊😘🚣🏼🚣🏿‍♀️ Lots of love Mum

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  5. I too appreciate the beauty of spiderwebs in my garden. The seeming impossibly of their reaching the points from which they spin leaves me in awe. I am little less happy should I come upon a web unexpectedly!

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  6. It must have been traumatic to see you mother react so strongly to the spider. A memory hard to erase. Seeing spiders as spinners of beautiful creations is a perfect start to redefining your relationship with them. Wishing you, your garden and all your creations, a peaceful 2017.

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    • For me to have remembered the incident after all these years, I think it was. I witnessed subsequent encounters between my mother and spiders which probably enforced it. Thank you for your kind wishes for the coming year, Gail. I wish you a year brimming with good things too: writing, cycling, love and light but especially peace for us all.

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  7. Dear Robyn, I thought you might like to “share” the wonderful St Andrew’s Cross spider we have in our garden at present. She has been with us for over a week and has already completely repaired her web after we inadvertently bumped it in recent days. My four and a half year-old grandson is fascinated and has watched the collection of flies and a moth tangled in the web ready for the next meal. They are not venomous spiders and the web is large so not easy to miss although, of course, both this one and another we had were strung in places where damage was almost inevitable. I wish we could have some rain so the web would sparkle..it’s been very hot and dry here in outer east Melbourne.

    Ann Barkla was here on Sunday and she suggested I send you a photo of the globe artichoke flower too. I left a few after the spring [ we ate most of them!] because I really adore the flowers. Kindest wishes for 2017. Robyn Sussems PS. nothing to do with trout fishing..we did that today and that was the photo file tag!!!!!

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    • Hello Robyn, lovely to hear from you. I’m familiar with the St Andrew’s Cross spiders. We have them here as well. Isn’t it lovely to share such wonders with little people. They make us see anew.

      It sounds as though you’ve tried to upload a file. Perhaps it is better to email me directly with the attachment. I’d love to see your pictures, especially the artichoke flower. I’ve never grown artichokes although I love the interesting structure they have.

      It is so hot here. I can only garden early in the morning or on dusk. We are not quite as dry as you are thank goodness.

      Thanks for your kind wishes for the coming year, Robyn. I hope it brings good things your way too.

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  8. I just came across this poem, and it made me think of your resolution (or new appewciation). I’ve often marveled at webs, especially when they reappear again, each one slightly different depending on wind, chance, and … well… the spider’s vision at the time.

    HAIL, SPIRIT
    by Pattiann Rogers

    A weaver, this spider, she plays her eight thin
    black legs and their needle-nail toes across
    the threads faster, more precisely, than a harpist
    at concert can pluck the strings in pizzicato.

    Although blind at night, she nevertheless
    fastens a thread to a branch of chokecherry
    on one side of the path, links it to a limb
    of shining sumac opposite, latches the scaffold
    to ground stone and brace of rooted grasses.

    And the structure takes dimension.
    Skittering upside down across and around,
    she hooks the hooks, knots the widening
    spirals, the tightened radii, orbs and hubs,
    bridges and bridgeheads. We can never hear
    the music she makes as she plucks her silk
    strings with all the toes and spurs and tarsal
    tufts of her eight legs at once. She performs
    the reading of her soul.

    Oh, remember how vital her eyes, the eyes
    of her gut, eyes of her touch gauging the tension,
    her eyes of gravity and balance, of guile, steady
    eyes of reckoning. Don’t miss the moment
    when she drops, a quick grasp, catches, swings
    forward again. An artiste.

    She expands the sky, her completed grid
    a gamble, a ploy played on the night. The silk
    is still, translucent and aerial, hanging in a glint
    of half-moon. The work is her heart strung
    on its tethers, ravenous, abiding.

    * * *
    (Spider like, I altered the stanza pattern slighly. Forgive me, Pattiann)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My youngest is terrified of even the ittiest bittiest spider. We laugh about it, but she doesn’t. She’s really scared. So I get what you’re saying. Good luck with conquering your fears!

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