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I was sitting in my living room the other morning, gazing out at the fog that softened my ridge-top neighborhood. Suddenly, a bit of motion caught my eye, shaking me out of the morning mist that had also overtaken my brain.
A garden spider, golden orb or writing spider, as some people call them, dropped gingerly into one of my azalea bushes, then rose again, placing an anchor line for a more complex structure just out of view.
A lot of people don’t like spiders, but I’m not one of them.
If I had time, I could watch them all day.
Once, under the supervision of a noted entomologist, I stood in the Sonoran Desert and gently cradled a tarantula in my hand. It was tickly, soft and plump.
In a weird way, it reminded me of the first time I picked up a duck.
Not all of my encounters with spiders have been pleasant. When I was about 10 years old, I was reaching for a spigot and a spider jumped out and bit me. The bite hurt, but not enough to cause the tears and awful racket that ensued.
I wailed because I knew that death was fast approaching, and life for a 10 year old was much too sweet to let go without some protest.
Up until then, based on my limited knowledge of thrillers and horror movies, I assumed any spider that would bite you would kill you. My parents, once they had me calmed down, advised me otherwise.
That revelation, along with my general love of nature, is probably why I am now more comfortable around spiders than are many other people.
It’s true that I have killed black widow spiders in areas where they were a bit too close to civilization, but for the most part, I’m the live-and-let-live type.
Now is the time of year I appreciate spiders most. Their dew-drenched webs become garden accessories. Long strands become necklaces and circular webs in the wet grass glow like many moons.
My favorite spider creation are the big, graphic tapestries, which, tucked between the purple asters and the orange marigolds, gleam in the morning dampness like cut-glass windows.
These spiders will be gone soon, once the hard frosts hit.
Until then, I will continue to enjoy this valuable part of the web of life.