Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Arachnid interlude 

A tiny movement catches my eye. Black on black, a minute spider summits the lower half of my trouser leg and continues purposefully across my knee. Not wanting her to disappear into the folds of my fleece jacket, but unwilling to be so discourteous as to brush her away, I invite her onto the end of my pencil, and she accepts the offer.

Its lunch time; I’m sitting outside on a bench in an unlikely patch of green amidst urban greyness, enjoying the warmth of a hazy sun on an otherwise chilly November day. Notebook and pencil in hand, I’ve been jotting down whatever thoughts the scene in front of me brings to mind; right now though, this tiny creature has all of my attention, and writing is forgotten.

She continues her upwards journey to the eraser at the end on my pencil, and now that she can go no further she seems undecided what to do next. I imagine she’ll just continue over the top and down the other side, but no; something about that eraser causes her to stay there – perhaps it’s the different feel underfoot? But she’s not just idly sitting. So tiny, it’s hard to see, especially with my less than perfect eyesight; slightly puzzled, I watch her, head down, abdomen raised, legs apparently working at something.

Then the sun catches a flash of silver and in that instant I understand. She’s spinning a silken thread, and as she spins, the gentlest of breezes carries her home-made bridge away from terra firma and out into nothingness. I’m entranced by the realisation - she’d been making her way steadily upwards, and now that she has gone as far as she can go by simple perambulation, she’s planning to continue her upward journey; to vanish, as it were, literally into thin air.

It’s a wonderful metaphor – strive upwards, and when you think you can go no further, launch out – not altogether blind, but trusting in your own skill to carry you and in chance to guide you to somewhere new.

She must sense that the other end of the sticky thread has found purchase, for now she sets out on her invisible bridge, which sags and sways even under her negligible weight. Unfortunately for her though, the end has caught only on the sleeve of my fleece. She makes landfall, but it’s time for me to go. I pick her up again on the end of my pencil and with a puff of wind from my lungs send on her way, who knows where? Gradually, my attention returns once again to the business of the day, but I’m grateful – just like Robert the Bruce - for the lesson and the delight to be found in this tiny creature.

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