“With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures and some books, I live without envy.”
Monday, November 13, 2006
Eulogy for a spider
I have sad news for you today, readers. Octavia, Arachnid Queen of the Greenhouse Realm, is no more.
We got in from Baltimore last night around 10 p.m. and after running a gauntlet of ecstatic house pets I went straight to the orchid room to check on my eight-legged pal. When I saw that her web was empty, I looked for the lines of silk she always spun on her way to a new location, the lines I’d follow in my own personal game of Find the Spider.
When I couldn’t find any I knew. I knew my spider was dead, even though it would take some searching to find her halfway down the wall, suspended upside down by one delicate leg, the others curled in and around her crumpled body.
Is it silly to mourn a spider? Is it silly to cry? Perhaps. But I can’t help myself. For a brief but magical period, I was allowed a glimpse into Octavia’s world - a world that snared and held my interest as firmly as the webs that snared and held her prey. Octavia was a creature with an amazing work ethic, a terrible beauty who reminded me that how one perceives something depends on how one is willing to look at it. Where some saw a brutality in her feeding behavior, others came to see a timeless, exquisite dance of life and death.
I will miss Octavia. I will miss how she blithely ignored me as I stood each morning, coffee cup in hand, to marvel at the web she’d created while I’d slept. I’ll miss the way she allowed me to occasionally brush the bottle-brush tufts of hair on her leg before either scurrying away or warning me with a threat display. I’ll miss standing on a chair with my camera, getting the shots that I’ve used to document her life.
Above is my last photo of Octavia. I had misgivings about posting it, but ultimately decided it was fitting, since her death is part of the story and as much a part of the natural order of things as the death of her victims. And since I wasn’t here when she died, writing this last chapter is how I shall say goodbye.
So goodbye, Octavia. Your egg sac is safe in the corner of the orchid room, which this morning is not quite the same. But it gives me some comfort to see it there. Next year I shall write of your daughters.