Lessons Learned From a Garden Spider

I cried today when I found the dead body of a garden spider friend I’ve been watching every single day for the past two months or more.  I called her Autumn.  And after finding Autumn’s little deceased and crumpled body this morning, my husband was ready to have me committed when I told him I wanted to bury her.  I was dead serious.

Middle Tennessee had its first frost on Halloween night.   We had our second frost last night.  Garden spiders usually perish with the first frost.  Autumn perished with the second frost.  Poor moribund Autumn stayed in her web until 3 am yesterday morning throughout temperatures in the low to mid 30s.  Halloween night, I watched her crawl down the brick under the window where her web was, the first time she had left her web in the two months since she took up residence there.  I knew she was going off to die.  I told her goodbye and I told her I would watch her egg sacs for her when she was gone.  After all, she had worked so very hard at making them, and then protecting them.

When I got up yesterday morning, Autumn’s web was empty.  And I felt such a sadness.  But then just a while later while standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye, and looked up, and there was Autumn!  She was ascending ever so slowly towards the center of her web where she had lived happily for the past two months, close to her egg sacs.  She was cold and weak and looked so thin and fragile.  She was no longer her plump, healthy, and vigorous looking self.

She stayed there near her two egg sacs all day and all night yesterday.  When I went to bed last night, it was 36 degrees and SO cold out.  I knew I wouldn’t be seeing my Autumn girl again.  When I awoke this morning, I went to the kitchen window and as I suspected, her web was empty.  I went outside and looked around and found her lifeless little body under our recycling bin, directly underneath her web.  She was gone.  And I wept.  Wept just as I had that 3rd grade day when the teacher read the ending of Charlotte’s Web to the class and I learned that Charlotte the spider had died without ever seeing her babies.  I wept because in some strange way, I felt I had lost a friend.  I wept because 60 year old postmenopausal women can be just plain silly like that sometimes.

You see, I watched this spider spend many, many hours building and rebuilding her web every day.  I watched her catch and inject venom into her prey,  watched her wrap that prey in silk, and later, ingest that prey.  I watched her cut the shells of the remains of bugs she ingested out of her web and then watched her tediously repair her damaged web.  I watched her spend hour upon hour making her eggs sacs which absolutely fascinated this nature loving girl.  I watched her fiercely defend those egg sacs.  I loved waking up and seeing what Autumn had in store for me that day.  I somehow wished I had spent my own life working every bit as hard as that spider did every. single. day.

R.I.P. my Autumn girl.  You taught this 60 year old woman many lessons about hard work, perseverance and the circle of life.  Lessons, that unfortunately, aren’t always easy to learn or learned in a timely manner.

Tomorrow, as silly as it may seem to some, I will bury you under the red maple tree closest to your egg sacs.  I think you deserve that much.

Gail

About Gail

I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, veterinarian, and wanna be writer. I love nature and animals of all kinds, music, cooking, and spending time with my family.
This entry was posted in Death, Life, Nature and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Lessons Learned From a Garden Spider

  1. gypsumoon says:

    I don’t know you, but I could have written this! I name and protect all the argiopes (usually 2, sometimes 3) who build their webs on our side porch – we live in the woods – and I mourn them every year. Loved starting my day reading this!

    • Gail says:

      They have built webs in my windows in years past too (never in this spot outside my kitchen window). They are so fascinating to watch so I always welcome them here!

      Thanks for your comment.

  2. Relax... says:

    Aww 😦 ❤ All final farewells are hard, especially for something that may not have life beyond here. The continuation through her offspring, though, is sign of God's great love for mankind, to keep this wondrous Created-with-a-plan world going for us. All life is part of His love. It will manifest again and again. ❤

  3. Aw Gail! I’m sorry this made you so sad. I totally get it though. I’ve felt the same way about toads this year. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but I don’t care. We feel what we feel, right? You’ve watched her life unfold throughout the summer and got invested. You’ve got a kind heart, which is a quality above most. It’s one of the things I appreciate about you! 🙂

    • Gail says:

      Aw…. thank you! There was a red wasp buzzing around Autumn’s egg sacs one day and I’ve never seen a spider move so fast in my life! She was ready to take that wasp on and I’m betting she would have won! She really defended those babies. I told her when I buried her yesterday that I would watch her egg sacs but I told my husband I run like a girl when a wasp is around so I don’t know how this is going to go….. it might be interesting.

  4. Mary Mangee says:

    Oh, Gail, this is not silly at all. One of God’s creatures showed you the value of living. How a mother cares for her children. No matter how small, a living being has a purpose and you connected with her on a soul level. What a wonderful life experience. Thank you dear Autumn for your presence and the love that you shared with our dearest Gail.

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