I was hurrying down the old wooden stairs to the basement when I noticed her, just past the dusty window on the cool wintery surface of our porch.
My kitchen spiders are translucent and insignificant. This one looked like a root-beer jellybean, brown and speckled with white spots.
Her legs twitched swiftly back and forth, gathering silk to string from the corners. Beginning from the perimeter, she darted and leaped her way from anchor point to anchor point, leaving a shimmering thread in her wake.
No one interrupted the spider. She didn’t have any other creatures lingering about, begging for her attention – no caterpillars demanding payment or tiny spiders whining for chicken nuggets. She just built her web without being bothered. To the music of chirping birds, she created her masterpiece.
The web caught the warm breeze and flexed without letting loose from its anchors pinned to the wooden porch beams.
Up and down the stairs – four loads of laundry, washed, dried, folded. The spider remained in her web, triumphant. That night, the rain poured down and the wind whistled between the rows of houses. The trees groaned, branches scratched the windows and the downpour clobbered the rooftops. The 35-gallon rain bucket in the yard gushed over and puddles swelled.
The last load of warm laundry in my basket, I flipped the outside light on before heading upstairs.
She was there -- inching to the corner of the web for protection from the storm.
In the morning, light beaming through the kitchen window, I tried to bang out an email to a client, my 18-month old son – H –tugging at my shirt. “Out,” he said. “Mama, peas. Out!”
I squeaked open the door and he barreled down the back stairs. The chase was on, and I yelled, “Wait!”
Panting at the bottom of the stairs, he looked up at me, pointing at the door. “Out.”
I cracked the door, pointed admiringly to the web.
“Pretty,” he whispered.
Impossibly – raindrops glistened on the web, like some too-perfect illustration.
I glanced down at the wet grass, lamenting how many more loads of laundry I’d have to do after today. As H splashed in a muddy puddle, my BlackBerry buzzed. My work will have to wait.