August 8, 2009
Afloat, in the air.
I was utterly charmed to discover this new cache of multi-legged life above a little aloe plant next to my front door. Suspended in a frozen tumble amid thin web strands, a hundred or more of these tiny, tiny spider babies experienced sunshine and pine trees for the first time. And, the regrettable circumstance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The previous week I had captured and relocated an unremarkable, pale colored spider who I first inspected under a magnifying glass before helping it change zip codes from atop my kitchen cabinet to beneath my wooded ferns many yards away. I was taken by the significant chevron design on its outer abdomen, and pored over photos in my various arachnids-for-geeks books. It turned out that I had saved the life of a little creature who could have seriously impeded my own. It was a Hobo spider, not uncommon in these parts and who, like the Brown Recluse, makes up in necrotic, flesh-eating, potentially lethal bites what it lacks in fashion sense.
I’ve always loved spiders. An essay I wrote years ago describes just one of my many ongoing co-habitations. And so when I saw these adorable babies, my heart sank. Could they be a burgeoning squadron of Hobo spiders, soon to unintentionally menace those of us living here paying the property taxes? I scoured the internet for proof of their innocence. “Baby Hobo spider photo.” “Hobo arachnid young photo.” “Pictures of newborn spiders.” Nothing. Crestfallen, I flashed back to a related episode from years ago in Malibu.
The deed was done as rapidly and humanely as possible. I felt terrible. The next day I stepped out to the deck and gazed sadly at the space above the aloe where my little nursery orphans had hovered so trustingly. There, toward the edge of one leaf, was a lone survivor. Smiling, I walked back into the house, and immersed myself in my music.