Friday, September 9, 2011

Terrific: a post about spiders

Yesterday I had my hair cut at the delightful Siren Salon in San Anselmo.  You're wondering, I'm sure, how this has anything whatever to do with spiders.  Hang on. And rest assured, there are no spiders at Siren.  None, not one.

So yesterday: Siren Salon, San Anselmo.  I love that place.  The moment I walked in, I felt happy and relaxed.  It smells delicious.  The music is great.  The art on the walls, which rotates every month of so, is great, stuff I would actually buy, if disposable income were at my, er, disposal.  All of the staff are so nice, and I love being inside the realized-vision of the owner, Nicole, who is someone I had actually met over and over in yoga, naturally -- yoga, the source of all good things --  although I hadn't put two and two together until I was seated in her chair.

Best haircut of my entire life!  And confirmation that Breaking Up with Crazy was so the right move.  

I've always been particularly bad at chit-chat, or so I tell myself, always a little uncomfortable at talking my way through basic interactions, like taxi rides or pedicures or even haircuts.  But because I am so cozy at Siren, I am happy the whole way through.  No effort required.  Just straight-up chill.  If I could spend an hour in that atmosphere a week, I think I'd be happier.  It's just beautiful in there.  My whole self just sighs in comfort.

During our conversation -- I mean, of course, during my haircut -- Nicole mentioned the sheer number of spiders in her garden in Fairfax, large ones that manage to string their webs across areas where she is bound to walk.  She described walking her trash to the curb the other night, the sun having already set, one hand on the garbage can, the other waving a broom around in front of her, to smash the webs out of the way.  There are so very many of them that she is becoming reluctant to leave her house.  I recognized them from her description: these are the showy big spiders Joe always refers to as Argiopes.

I so Get this reluctance to walk face-first into a web.  This has happened to me countless times, on the trail and at home; I never manage to emerge without squeaking, hopping, flailing.  Of course, were the spider to get on you, that would be worse, but it's so creepy to have web all over your face, in your hair, swatting around with my hands to make sure the eight-legged is not on me, somewhere unseen.  I still laugh about the time Joe and I were taking out the trash -- what is it with spiders and garbage? -- and a huge, fat-booty spider got on his hand.  He was wheeling a can out ahead of me, and did this crazy dance, a little tarantella so to speak.  Still cracks me up.  But who among us, indeed, is not going to flip out a bit at that feeling, at that visual?

I got to thinking more, later, about these particular spiders that take up such prominent residence in our yard.  These Argiopes.  I wasn't even sure that was really the name, since I learned it from Joe and I thought it could perhaps be a part of his childhood vernacular, some made-up name originating in his clan.  But no, Argiope, it really is. Argiope aurantia, in fact, also known as the Writing Spider or the Scribbler, for the characteristic zig-zag seam (stabilimentum) in her web.

I am amazed that I managed to Google Image these spiders this morning, since I really have a hard time looking at close-up shots of arachnids.  And once already bolted from my seat -- no thanks for there being an image of a tarantula on that one webpage I clicked on.  Not good.  But listen, these Argiopes are pretty amazing, so I wanted to share this link about them, and tell some essential facts here.  It doesn't make me love them, but I do appreciate how clever they are.

- All of the Argiope aurantia that you see in the middle of big webs are female, all Charlottes.  The males are much smaller, can sometimes be seen hanging around the edges of the web, waiting for their bit of action then swift demise.

- Argiope aurantia makes a distinctive zig-zag down her web, as in the above picture, which may well have been the inspiration for Charlotte herself, for the idea of a spider that writes words.  

- She re-spins the center of her web every night, eating the old web as she goes, explaining why you can bash a web down with a broom at night, and walk into the same web by morning, on your way to retrieve the trash bins from the curb.

- In our climate, Argiopes can live a few years.  This makes sense, since we know we had one particular spider for several seasons.  That's the spider we used to entertain guests with, catching flies and tossing them into her web strung across part of our breezeway.  The speed with which she'd descend onto her prey was stunning every single time.

Still not crazy about them, but really, Terrific!

No comments: