Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Not Charlotte

Spider Solitaire
Spider Solitaire
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
It started months ago. A small spider took up residence in the corner of the kitchen window next to the stove. I don't know why we didn't remove it. DrC didn't, the girls would never think to do so, and I just shrugged and probably thought it was someone else's (e.g. the Man's) problem. Even small, she was very black and very spider-like.

I can pinpoint the date that I decided I liked her and wanted to keep her. It was the morning I was standing semi-comatose, warming my hands over the stove as the espresso brewed and noted that she had caught three ants in the night. Any ally in our ongoing war against the Chicken House Ants is welcome. I poured myself a latte, toasted the newest member of the family, and went to work.

This is not the first time the Conger clan has hosted a spider. We used to watch with fascination as spiders would build elaborate webs between the newell posts on the front porch of our West Seattle home. The dew would dust these complicated constructions and provide an endless source of fractal entertainment throughout the fall. The side yard played host on multiple occasions to the million scattered mobile flying dots of spider egg bursts. Every single spider invasion – whether in the lifelines in Canada or in the plants on the dining room table in Philadelphia – has been a source of pleasure, interest, and education for my husband, myself, and now our children.

Honestly, the only spider scare we've ever experienced was a truly notable and hysterically funny encounter between Jaime and a 13 cm spider in the Karangahake Gorge a few months go. I can't remember the last time the entire family laughed so hard as when Jaime came bursting out of that cave screaming and kareening down the trail at high speed with her hair on fire. Even she found the whole thing amusing after we finally caught up with her, calmed her down, reassured her that there were no signs of spiders anywhere on or near her and most particularly not in her hair. You could almost say that we're a pro-spider family.

So she – our latest spider neighbor – settled in for the winter. But this spider isn't exactly a neighbor, now is she? Living in the kitchen, she's more like a quiet roommate. A quiet, growing roommate. We've watched her shed her skin, like a lobster, several times now. Our little spider has grown to nearly an inch now. Yesterday, she caught a horse fly, the day before an enormous moth. Her web stretches over the entire corner of the window – about a square foot. Mera witnessed the fly capture. It blundered into the web in one corner. Mera was doing the dishes and paused to watch our girl dash over, sedate the fly before it ripped the web apart, wrap it up, and drag it into the center of her lair. Short of an Animal Planet video, I'm not certain how Mera could have been treated to a better visual experience of spider dining.

Red Plastic Ones
Red Plastic Ones
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
DrC and I are waiting, I believe, on reproduction. I don't know why, but we're working under the operating assumption that our room mate is a girl. We've been trying to figure out how she'd get preggers, actually. There are no signs of little boy spiders anywhere near by. And if she's a he, he's not getting out there to spread the spider “word” and father a dynasty. So this strategy of “settling into the corner of a window in a house in Pukekohe” might prove an evolutionary dead end. What we're hoping, though, is that before establishing residence in the highly target rich environment of the Chicken House kitchen, there was an encounter between our room mate and another spider which is going to result ultimately in a big spider egg sack.

It also possible that she is just going to keep growing until Jaime freaks out and insists that “Either that spider goes, or I do.” And while I can understand her recent spider-paranoia given her caving experience, I'm going miss her. It's been nice having Jaime around all these years.


judith said...

We let a spider stay once... she had hundreds of babies. They were EVERYWHERE! Hubby decided against that happening again.

protected static said...

Oh, it's *early* yet for her to have erstwhile suitors approach... You've got another 5 months or so. We witnessed lots of cautious "no, I'm not food" approaches from tiny male orb weavers creeping up to the massive females in our front yard this Autumn.

Viking Star said...

One of my childhood favorite books was 'Be Nice to Spiders'