The Wolf Spider Loses Her Home

The last time I saw the Wolf Spider in her home

Fate sniffed the coyote scat in the middle of the footbridge.  Its message was clear.

I’ve seen the dogs scoff up coyote scat before, or pee on it, reclaiming the territory.  But this time Fate just walked past it.  And Zinnia, as usual,  chose to walk through the small muddy pond under the bridge.

We were back to see if the wolf spider was at home.  But as I walked along the path and saw one freshly cut stump after another, it seemed likely that the spider’s tree had been cut down too.

I thought about how I had imagined tacking one of the giant oak leaves that were now on the ground to the tree with the words, Charlotte Lives Here and Terrific Spider, written on it.  Now, I promised to do it if the tree is still standing, like someone making a deal with God.

But there was the stump, surrounded by a litter of wood shavings, cut high enough off the ground that I could still see the familiar bend and bump in the trunk.

I imagined the wolf spider scurrying out of the hole after the tree fell and disappearing in the thick damp ground cover of autumn leaves.

Would my neighbor, who was harvesting the wood for the winter, really burn that perfectly round hole and decorative fungi doorway.  Or would he see the potential in it as a good home for someone?  Maybe nail a piece of slate on top of it and make it into a birdhouse.

This made me think about all the other animals who find homes in the woods. And how it was only the decorative doorway, that made me pay so much attention to this one.

I look for the extraordinary in the small acres of woods where I walk. The holes in the trees that remind me of childhood fantasies, colorful mushrooms, evidence of bear.

Just last week I was reading John Muir’s writings about Yellowstone.

I almost skipped over the chapter on the gray and brown squirrels.  Who wants to read about a squirrel I thought when there are so many more exotic animals and interesting land formations in that part of the country.

But I was humbled by Muir’s writing.

His knowledge and attention to detail about the lives of these two seemingly ordinary animals fascinated and delighted me.  His wonder and curiosity were infectious.  And although growing up in the suburbs I have shared my life with gray squirrels, even bottle-fed a few homeless babies, I never saw what Muir did in them.

I’ll never know what happened to the wolf spider.

She may find a home in the tree near the one she used to live in.  But I’m not likely to see it.  Unless I start paying attention in a different way. Finding wonder in not only the extraordinary but looking a little more closely at the expected and seeing deeper into what I believe I already know.

6 thoughts on “The Wolf Spider Loses Her Home

  1. You are so right, Maria. I hate seeing trees cut down because of all the creatures that live in it’s shelter. If a tree falls naturally…that is part of the cycle and acceptable. I actually had a fascinating time here, in the Spring, watching the squirrels. There is obviously a lot more going on with them than I ever realized. I must try to find out more about them. Poor Wold Spider. He would terrify me, but I hate that he lost his home.

    1. You are an observer of nature Carolyn. I can see it in your pictures and writing. I love that you have been finding interest in teh squirrels. After reading John Muir, I watched a squirrel who dropped a branch of leaves on me when I was walking. He jumped through the treetops like a monkey. It made me think that to squirrels tree top must be like our roads.

  2. Seeing deeper into what we believe we already know is the work of a lifetime. I’m starting to think that the older I get, the less I really “know”. But sometimes I don’t know enough to know that.

  3. There is a family of squirrels in a tree by the library and they put on a show for us quite often. The city wants to cut it down The evergreen that is also in front of the library has a family of in it. In the summer you can hear them sing. For some reason the city wants to cut that down so they can put up a stupid sign that can easily go on the other side by the bookdrop and save the tree.

    1. It’s so awful when something like that happens. Especially in a place were there are fewer trees and we really get to know the one that are. So many people see squirrels like Canada geese as a nuisance.

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