The Spiders Gate

Dew, like raindrops, falls from the leaves of the maple tree. Long and soft, the grass too is beaded with dew. I take off my boots and step onto the grass as if dipping my feet in the Battenkill.

I keep an eye on the dogs because I’m in the yard to pick up their poop but something else is happening too.

I gaze over the fence to the tree line marking the edge of the farm.  Out there the mist is still rising in the morning sun.  I watch it swirl up from the pasture, like a dust devil. Yellow light reflected in drops of rising water.

I follow it with my eyes, up and up till it dissipates in the tree tops. That’s when I see the spider webs strung across the bare treetops waving like prayer flags.

Are there really that many dead trees I wonder, or have they lost their leaves early?

I look down at my feet.  A leaf is plastered on the toes of my right foot. They are soaking wet.   I walk through the grass just to feel cool, wet, soft grass on my bare feet.

It’s as if I’m being baptized by the new day.

I clean up after the dogs and boots back on, I head out to the barnyard.

The sheep and donkeys have been eating all night so they don’t follow me to the back pasture.  I’m there to close the gate, but can’t resist a peek at the pond.

Now the sun is at just the right height to reveal that the wildflowers too are dripping with dew. Giving them the moisture they need to survive another hot, dry day.

I missed my opportunity to mow a path to the stream this year so the grass is tall, as tall as me around the gate.  I open it anyway ready to push my way to the stream, parting the grass like a curtain as if everything on the other side is awaiting my arrival.

I can’t see the stream through the thick vegetation even though it’s only ten feet away.

But I do see the yellow and black garden spider.  His web is big enough to block my path and impossible to miss with the spider at its center and the signature zigzag pattern called a stabilimentum to the right of him.

There is no way I’m walking through that gate. It’s too perfect, too beautiful, and not mine to destroy.

This morning my friend Kitty sent me a text referring to the grasshopper that came to my studio yesterday. “I think the animals, birds and insects wonder what’s happening with the earth.  They’re checking it out.

That makes sense to me, an awful sense.

When the grasshopper came to me yesterday I saw it in terms of what it meant to me. Not what the grasshopper might be trying to understand about its changing world.  If there were no electric lights moths wouldn’t be wasting their time trying to find this artificial source of light, they’d be following the moonlight as they were meant to do.

I could have walked around the spider’s web.  But I decided not to.

I thought instead I’d leave the Orhpanded Woods alone for a while. To give the plants and animals who live there, space to do what they do without interruption from me.

Not that it will make a difference in the world with its changing climate.   But it might make a difference to the hungry spider who is looking for a mate.  Doing his part to keep a natural balance in the world.

The male garden spider in his web with the zigzag stabilimentum. The males are longer and thinner then the female garden spiders.

8 thoughts on “The Spiders Gate

  1. Good afternoon Maria, a many faceted artist are you! your medium versatile to say the least. Writer and photography so in the forefront here. Absolutely award winning story I was reading with bated breath. Beautiful photography. Married together this writing and photography : compassion kindness respectful of Mother Earth and all her living things. PS my last thought defining “wide angle is it” your walk with naturalist a while back. Today you saw above you, below you, to each side of you and in front of you. That’s my take away from your today’s words and pic!!!

    1. Both Amy and Veronica spoke to that idea of seeing wide in a different way regarding this piece. Its funny I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s obviously there. Thank you for pointing it out and your kind words.

  2. Maria, the spider’s power seems to indicate his intent to make a difference, whatever his true motive? Pray that ours is as great to enhance human life. . .such a big lesson for such a minute creature? From a cosmic view, perhaps we are similar?
    Wonderful essay. . . veronica

    1. Oh I can see that from a cosmic view we’d be the same Veronica. I’ve been paying attention to the stars more recently, it seems lately I can see so many. That bigger view is altering my perspective, perhaps your words will help me understand it better.

  3. Wow. He is striking. (great photos!) Looks like this spider is hanging out where he knows his craftsmanship and contribution to garden maintenance can be appreciated. I think it would be good for society in general if more people walked every once in a while in a nature setting and “saw wide”; it diminishes self-centeredness to see how small a part of the world we actually are, but how greatly our individual or collective actions affect it, whether positively or negatively. And that can generate small changes in personal behavior or larger contributions for the greater good of our fellow man – and world.

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