15 December 2005

Spider Chronicles: Final Installment

Alas! Jack the Spider Mama is no more. She departed our living room window during a violent storm in early November, washed away, I fear, by the pounding rain which was hitting that side of the house pretty much horizontally.

She did not, however, leave us without performing one final miracle.

Here is the story of her final days.

While it never really gets cold this far south of the M-DL* (the natives will tell you it does, the rest of us know better), we do get the occasional heavy frost. I had been watching Jack closely over the previous few days, because nighttime temperatures were dropping into frost territory (even though it was still 80 and 90 during the day - no joke - but that’s another story), and I thought she might be on her way out.

She seemed sluggish, lethargic and she had been hanging around her first miracle (the egg sack) and not rebuilding her web. I assumed the approaching cold and the fact that there weren’t so many bugs to eat anymore were responsible.

As evidence of this, one morning late in October we woke to find Jack forlornly sagging from the protective hover she had assumed over the egg sack (check out how her abdomen is drooping away from the window). She knew her time was coming, I assumed, so she was doing what came naturally to any mother: she was going to spend her last few days in this world doing whatever she could to protect her offspring. That’s what I’d do, anyway.

Oh dear, I thought as I went off to prepare Ms. Three-Years-Old, it won’t be long now.

I was wrong, of course.

What Jack was really doing was getting ready to form a second egg sack. I’m not joking. I came home from work on Halloween night and ... well, take a look.

Isn’t she amazing?!? I had no idea spiders could do this twice in one season (lifetime?). I thought the first one would have taken everything out of her. Apparently not – the second one is bigger than the first! Then again, maybe Jack was some kind of super spider.

We sure thought she was...

SIDENOTE: The day after Jack’s demise, we woke to a world cloaked in heavy mist. I went out on our deck to take the trash down and spotted webs perfectly dewed and begging to be captured in pixel form. These are not Jack’s webs, but those of her very shy cousin (who lived on the opposite side of the house from Jack and built a new web in a new location every day and who, no matter how slowly I approached, would always scamper out of range whenever I aimed the camera at her/him).

*Mason-Dixon Line

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