I usually don't refer to spiders as "beautiful." I like reptiles (quite a lot, actually); amphibians are pretty cool; I tolerate class Insecta. To tell you the truth, members of class Arachnid kinda freak me out.
I don't mind little spiders, and I don't mind Daddy Longlegs (Pholcus phalangioides, or the cellar spider), but a spider the size of Daddy Longlegs with a large, juicy body and thick, strong legs to rival Cindy Crawford's? Yikes.
Yet the natural world is neutral. Existing in the natural world means existing with sunshine and storms, rainbows and rot, songbirds and spiders.
To that end, I haven't evicted Micheal. Oh, yeah--although I avoid anthropomorphizing animals, my mother suggested that I name the beautiful spider Micheal. So, she's called Micheal. And she's moved from her small web to a larger web, nearly two feet across, with the symmetry of a modernist sculpture.
I think that Michael is either an oak leaf spider (Aculepeira ceropegia) or a European garden spider (Araneus diadematus), both of which are orb weavers. Leg tip to leg tip, she's about 1.5 to 1.75 inches.
I like paying attention to the little dramas of the natural world. It puts my own mental storyline (i.e. what I tell myself about my personal experience) into perspective. It reminds me that my perception of my world is only my perception, and that everyone/ everything from the Dalai Lama to Michael has their own story.
Michael's story continues after the jump!
~~UPDATE: Wednesday, October 14, 2009~~
Just like the Wikipedia article says, it looks like Michael has eaten part of her web and moved on to a new location. She was gone and there was a large, regularly shaped hole in her web when I got home last night.
~~UPDATE: Monday, October 19, 2009~~
Michael is back! I noticed that she was rebuilding the remains of her old web as I was going out last night. It was interesting to recognize a familiar "face." Where did she go and what did she do while she was away?
~~UPDATE: Friday , October 23, 2009~~
I'm falling into a comfortable pattern of saying goodnight to Michael every evening as I come home after dark. Last night, she had a large moth with fur-like wings trapped at the center of her web. She was standing on the moth with her legs curled up like a fist, instead of extended as a hand at rest. This morning, the moth was gone, and so was Michael. She's always gone in the morning when I leave for work--I wonder what she's up to during the day.
~~UPDATE: Sunday, October 25, 2009~~
I imagine this will be my last update about Michael. She has eaten her entire web except for the bridge/ anchor thread(s). Last time she took out only a chunk of the web, not the entire thing. I guess this means she won't be returning to this spot on our deck. Good luck, Michael.
~~UPDATE: Tuesday, October 27, 2009~~
Just kidding! She rebuilt a brand new web the next day just a few inches in front of her old web. This web is smaller than her old web.
~~UPDATE: Saturday, October 31, 2009~~
With perfect timing for Halloween, Michael ate her small web and built an ENORMOUS replacement in approximately the same spot. This is the granddaddy of spider mansions. Forget moths--I think she's looking to catch a small bird for dinner.
~~UPDATE: Wednesday, November 4, 2009~~
Michael's mansion disappeared on Sunday or Monday--the entire web, including bridge and anchor threads. I'm not sure if one of my roommates dismantled the web or if she ate it and moved on. No new webs have appeared in its place, and I haven't seen her since this past weekend.
~~UPDATE: Wednesday, November 25, 2009~~
Still no Michael. However, there is a smaller oak leaf spider/ garden spider that has moved into the corner of our front window. So the world turns!