Charlotte

One morning i walked out into the yard and saw something colorful against the pale green wall of the house. It was a spider; a golden orb weaver to be exact. Anytime i encountered something new i researched it. It was how i learned about the world and decided where i stood on matters. So i researched the golden orb weaver. I learned that this was a female golden orb weaver, both because of its size, shape, and the absence of “boxing gloves” (the little appendages on the arms of male orb weavers used to pump sperm to its destination during mating). Knowledge is power. The more you know the less you’re going to make rash decisions you may regret at a later date in time. I wasn’t immediately thrilled about the giant spider making an impressive sized web on the side of my house, but the more i researched, the better she sounded. She ate mosquitos. She was a “wait and see” kind of predator. Unlike the wolf spiders, she didn’t move often and there was no jumping. She stayed still in her web and waited for prey to ensnare itself. Then she would leave her post to wrap it in silk and return to her position. She was always in exactly the same spot so i never had to wonder where she’d be. I could get within an inch of her and she wouldn’t move. She was a great listener. I introduced her to the dogs and told her all about my plans for the property. Many people thought i’d lost my mind talking to a spider on the side of the house but the fact of the matter was i had always prefered the company of animals to people. Animals really didn’t have the words “vengeance” or “ulterior motives” in their vocabulary. They were survivalists and everything they did was governed by instinct. Less drama. She was there all day every day for a week. She wove a magnificent web on the side of the house. Even the dogs were aware of her and occasionally stopped underneath her web to watch her. She had become a part of our lives and she needed a name. I tried not to overthink it. I named her “Charlotte”. So Charlotte and i had a little chat. I told her that she was welcome to the mosquitos that were continuously hatching in the water trays of my hanging plants on the porch and the moths and beetles that buzzed around the porch light each night. I had just one rule; don’t come in the house. I told her if she could adhere to that rule she was welcome indefinitely.

Shortly after our chat there was another wind storm. The wind howled through the trees and whipped the branches back and forth. I retreated into the house with wild-woman hair and dust in my eyes. When the storm was over i emerged from the house to survey the damage. A few tree branches were down by the laundry line but other than that all was well. I turned to the side of the house to check on Charlotte. Both she and her web were gone. There was no trace of her. My brain told me i should have felt relief. I didn’t have to worry about her getting in the house anymore when i opened the windows. But my heart felt saddened. I had grown used to her presence on the side of the house and she was pretty cool to watch, especially when measuring and placing the strands of her web. She used her leg to measure each piece out and then placed it against another strand with the very tip of her leg to make it stick. As i ascended the porch stairs with a heavy heart i turned my head upwards. There was Charlotte! She had made her web directly over the kitchen window and the porch light. I wondered if she had done it to get out of the wind or because i had mentioned the abundance of mosquitos in the hanging plants on the porch. I was so happy to see her! I told her, “Now look here Charlotte, you can have any area to the left of the door, but you can not make a web over the door or on the door, and you cannot come in the house. If you can abide by those rules you are welcome here indefinitely. She never put webbing above or over the door. She put it right up to it, but never incorporated the door in her web. She also never tried to enter the house. She and i had an understanding.

If you look closely you can see the strands of her web.

She lived directly outside the kitchen window next to the porch light. Whatever bugs were attracted to the porch light became entagled in her web and were eaten. She also ate the mosquitos hatching from the water trays under the hanging plants. I lifted the curtain every time i wanted to go out and made note of her whereabouts. I said good morning to her becore i went to work and good night to her as i called the dogs in for bed. Charlotte had become a respected personality and a regular character on the homestead.

Though i am only fond of orb weavers, i never kill the wolf spiders on the property as they have been known to eat brown recluse and black widow spiders.

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