on strands of silk
We were on the deck, enjoying a glass of wine in the late dappled light of June, when John noticed that hundreds of tiny spiders had just hatched on the underside of a (much-repaired) table against the side of the house.
What kind of spiders are these? I have no idea. No sign of the parents, who might resemble something in the Audubon Field Guide to Insects and Spiders I keep on my desk. These are the size of the head of a pin, golden and brown. When I blew gently on the mass, a whole lot of them drifted down on strands of silk.
Though we didn’t see the mother who’d prepared the sheets of silky material where eggs were laid in a sac and developed, it was strangely moving to see the spiderlings drift down to the wooden deck board, the earliest to leave, while the others stayed close to the underside of the table where they’d hatched without us ever knowing. I thought of Walt Whitman, much in our minds these days as we remember his poems about grass and the dead and the soul and yes, spiders.
A noiseless patient spider,I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d—till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.