Moon of Orb Weavers Return
- by story by James Inabinet
Late afternoon, I am aimlessly walking along the north edge of the beach near Buccaneer noting plant life along the marsh edge. It’s still very warm (late summer and all that) but a light southeast breeze prevails so it’s not uncomfortable. The partly cloudy sky is white-white and blue-blue. Clouds are way high, fluffy, in lines providing a feeling of great distance between me and the dome of the sky. From here it would seem that no rain now falls anywhere on earth.
I hear waves crashing against the sea wall behind me so I turn south. Scanning east a snowy egret stands in calm shallow water adjacent to a beach jutting out beyond the sea wall. She looks down in stillness. I watch her for a while.
On the Shoofly
I stand tall to look beyond these edge plants at the marsh behind. With blurry eyes I see brownish-buff punctuated by splotches of yellow-green. Farther back the marsh gives way to trees, tall pines high, hardwoods below. From left to right the trees become more distant. On the left I can pick out distinct trees. On the right I can only make out the blurry, grayish outlines of the tallest ones.
A train suddenly emerges between marsh and forest that appears to be running on top of the marsh grass. I didn’t know the railroad tracks went through there. Every now and again a gust kicks up that audibly rattles brown seed pods of partridge pea to my right. Seconds later the leading edge of that same gust animates the marsh grass as a visible wave reminding me of wind blowing across wheat fields abutting Colorado mountains.
I leave the beach and drive to the old wildflower trail in the Pass. Not 50 feet down the trail I run into a spider web of golden silk, its maker a huge goldish spider with black-banded legs. She scurries higher to get away from me. I look ahead and see another down the trail a ways.
If there’s truth in “for everything there is a season,” then it’s spider time. I created a lunar calendar after observing nature for 20 years, one that recognizes moon phases vis-à-vis monthly changes throughout a year. Right now it’s late in the “Moon of Orb Weavers Return.” During this moon, many orb-weaving spiders that seemed scarce over much of the year have inexplicably returned in great numbers.
I have watched spiders closely, observing unique and distinctive behaviors that, taken together, I call “spiderness.” Even if far away and blurry, spider behavior can be instantly recognized even though you might not be able to say why. Many behaviors are easy to describe, like web behaviors: emitting strands out of their body, manipulating them with their front legs round and round. Some catch a bug and leave it where it lands. Others don’t, like a reddish orb weaver near my shop that caught a katydid last week. After subduing it, she wrapped him up and carried the bundle up to a crossing branch. Then she took the web apart, eating a strand at a time. I could hardly find her an hour later up there sitting quietly.
Other forms of spiderness aren’t so easy to describe. Even spiders that don’t weave webs perform distinctive behaviors that shout spider! Maybe it has something to do with the way they move around, the way they lift their legs high, one then the other. It reminds me of a man in a business suit who mimics spiderness when walking through a puddled parking lot.