Beautiful and magnificient beings

Once, a few months ago – yet I remember it as if it was yesterday – I was at a concert in an old building with high ceilings. There were not too many people at the concert – just enough that we didn’t feel to be alone. The band was fabulous – the music was the kind that you can experience with all your senses. For me it was like a silky half-transparent scarf gently slipping over my fingertips with a light rosy fragrance raising from it – that kind of sensual feeling but all over my senses, including something deep inside, which isn’t really defined as a sense. It was heightening my spirits, making my mind wander and dream of things and places and feelings I visit rarely. It made me want to relax and cuddle in the arms of someone I love.

And that was exactly what I was doing. I was sitting on a deep windowsill together with my most loved man and experienced the music in the only right way. Our relationship is not what this story is about so I don’t go into it. What matters is that we were there very sweetly together when we spotted someone very beautiful and fragile right before our eyes, at the upper side of the window, between us and the rest of the people in a way. It was a most magnificient being, more beautiful than any of her kind.

It was crimson red and pink by her color with elegant patterns along her body and legs. But the pattern itself, as fine and beautiful as it was, was not the only adornment she had – she also had white seashell-like pieces all over her body. Her head was darker than the body, both of them covered with soft short dark red and pink hair. The legs were long and elegant, with joints just so that you could imagine her being a lady at the highest of courts. She was about 30 centimeters in diameter and hanging on her elaborate and fragile web with all of her eight legs.

Yes she was a spider, but she was a most beautiful one as you can determine from my description. I had seen a movie on Discovery about her species and knew her to be quite harmless to humans unless threatened and this we certainly didn’t. As we had been – highly enjoying – we were enraptured now by the beauty of this magnificient being, just admiring her in an awe quite more intense than any usual amazement. I knew that the seashell-like protrusions were to be its protection from predators – the shell-like protection that lets her survive even being so big and highly visible, but they were elegant and beautiful as well. The whole being holding her balance on the silky web, the fragility, the harmony and symmetry made her a true nature’s work of wonder.

But as we were enjoying our most unusual view, the others also became gradually aware of the creature. Unfortunately they had not seen the movie and, as is usual for people of all nations and races and sexes, were quite a bit afraid of what they saw as an enormous arachnid threatening them and thus reacted by screaming and moving themselves in what the spider certainly thought of as threatening moves from creatures tens of times bigger than she was. The first defense is certainly attack and so this the spider did – it started moving the web in sudden movements; threatening, but never really attacking.

Me and my boyfriend – we grew afraid for the spider. Certainly soon some gentleman in the crowd is going to try to impress his lady by killing this wonderful being he sees as a terrible beast. We didn’t want this to happen, so before anyone else could react – harmfully to our mutual object of admiration – my boyfriend rose from his warm and comfortable place beside me and gently took the spider from her web to his most beautiful hands (I admit, I have a bit of obsession about men’s hands and these two – my boyfriend’s hands and the spider in its defense position – were a most remarkable view). She drew herself into defensive position, which resembled a fist-sized egg, but was much stronger with the seashell-like protrusions fitting together with a precision quite worth of wonder in itself. A wonder – to behold, but not to possess. He took her outside the door, to nature where she can feel safe again and do whatever spiders do when they are not threatened by two-metre tall creatures.

This is a dream… Unfortunately there is no such spider as that magnificient being in this dream. And this man has never really been my loved one either, at least he hasn’t known about it. But after this dream I actually became interested in spiders and how they are quite harmless, but still hated irrationally. Even Liriel, my namesake and actual name source, was made to fight with L’loth, Demon Queen of Spiders in the books, a comparison to fighting evil heritage in herself.

Me, I have never hated them and thought of them as well as I could, but still, even when rescuing a spider caught in a slippery bath with no exit but the flush-hole and death, I couldn’t grab it with my hand and fought with disgust even when quickly shaking it off the towel to somewhere safer. I have always tried not to be phobic of such animals and situations, been proud of not shrieking at the sight of another nature’s creature, but secretly I was also ashamed of it being hard for me, the common archanophobia, though deep and controlled, being present in me as well. I cannot honestly say that this is over, but I know that I have stepped a great step towards it being so.

More so because I have another story to tell about those great creatures (not great by heart but great by being as magnificient as nature can make). I am proud to say that the pictures you see here illustrating the beauty of those creatures are not copied from somewhere on the web. They are taken by me about someone on the web, a newest neighbor of mine. That is, a few weeks ago I discovered a web behind my window and in the middle of the web a queen – a spider. It was the chance of a lifetime to take pictures of such creature from close up – sad thing that my window wasn’t as clean as it should have been and my camera doesn’t have manual focus to take just the right pictures. And, as it was, after a few days she was gone again.

I was happy I had seen her, known her even as briefly as I did, but sad she was gone. And now, just a week or so ago, I found that another one had taken that same place. And this one was bigger and with colored pattern on her body somewhat resembling the beauty in my dream (I speculate that she could be the same spider really, but grown now – not the same as in this dream but the same as before behind my window). I took more pictures and stopped opening that window, not to disturb my new neighbor.

She is doing quite well there. Now instead of watching different shows on National Geographic, Animal Planet and Discovery, I go to my window and watch my peaceful and beautiful new friend going about and living. It is quite a show to be honest! I have taken on to read a bit about them as well and have already had some confirmations for the facts I have read. I even know that the spider seems to be of species called European Garden Spider or Cross Spider and is very common around here – but with the patterns on her body being brighter than any I have seen so far. The white “cross” resembles me the white seashells on my dream-spider, the bright brownish color the deep crimson of her. I am really happy to have her here and I am trying to take the best of it as long as it lasts.

For example, just today I observed as the spider rebuilt most of its web and while doing so – what do you think she did with the parts she didn’t need there anymore? She reused them, at least she did eat them and afterwards she put out a new and pure thread at the right places. And there was a rhythm to the weaving – one leg finds the next place to glue the thread, another holds her just from the right distance from the last row, another holds it for a moment just so – to harden a bit? to make sure it is just as long and elastic as she needs it to be? – and then glues the line with the thread-emitting organ at the end of her body. Always moving on momentarily, so precise the work, so quick each step, with an half an hour or less the web was just as it had been new – although there are somewhere around 30 base lines from center to my house’s walls and window.

And more, I have seen her eating, I have seen her reacting to the minute movement in the web, I have seen her sitting there majestically – er, like a spider queen in the middle of her web. I have stood there and admired her and I hope she will have a good long life and doesn’t go away from behind my window any time soon. At least it seems to be a good place for eating – in a one hour period I saw at least two small insects getting trapped.

* I reference the spider as a she because although I don’t know, which she really is, she resembles more of a she than he to my human eyes. And though it is right to say It about animals in English, I feel it is very rude to be doing so. Maybe my English teacher was wrong and it really is more of a cultural thing…

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7 Responses to Beautiful and magnificient beings

  1. Kris says:

    To be brutally truthful, not all spiders are harmless. But since those spiders generally don’t live in Estonia I think I can agree with your post. My experiences with spiders vary from heart stopping moments to laughter and wonder. For instance, whenever I walk in the woods I can’t help but wonder, how on earth do those spiders get their threads from one side of the road to other, right at the eye height, and the width of the road is at least one meter! How? And spiderwebs in the morning are glorious. Oh, and once I thought I had found a new species of spiders.. with sixteen legs. Unfortunately it wasn’t so, but funny still. This is one side, another side is when I once through a dream saw something black crawl under my blanket, in a blink of an eye I was on my pillow with my blanket and from there I saw how a lonely black spider walked over a wide wide white sheet. I really can’t like spiders that much as to allow them on my hand, but I don’t think that I would ever actually want to kill them, especially since I remember an old superstition that said that a spider in a house is a good sign.

  2. liriel says:

    Today evening we had a little chat with Kris over a small Martini and about a wide area of different topics. About this post and spiders amongst them. What we agreed on, is that spiders are indeed different in that they are automatically been afraid of whereas some more poisonous creatures as snakes or frogs are not. It has to do something with the long and spindly legs and the big count of them (certainly not sixteen, but with many animals counting one-two-many, it falls into the “many” category). Might be that spiders were dangerous where humans came from or for their ancestors and this is “genetic memory”. Seems about right.
    Now give me the links to science articles that confirm or refute this wild-shot theory 🙂

  3. Kris says:

    By the way, I think I figured out how spiders get their threads across the road just at the eye height. It came to me as a revelation after yesterdays chat with Liriel. Firstly, spiders have to have some tiny little computers, with what they measure the height of a person coming down the road, after that it’s just a case of getting across the road. They can do it by flying, like Karlsson, with tiny propellers at their back. Or they can swing across the road like Tarzan, with cute little leopard spotted loincloths and yelling “Aaaiiaaiiaaaiiiiaaa” in their tiny little spider voices. I guess the last is more likely since it would explain why I occasionally see spiders hanging right in the middle of the road, at eye height. So mystery solved.

  4. MDW says:

    Actually no one knows why people fear spiders – so no articles, sorry. Liriel’s theory is the most common one, but it has a few problems – there are many animals where humans came from that are much more dangerous than spiders (snakes, lions and crocodiles for example), yet there is no widespread phobia associated with them.
    While its true, that many tribes in Africa are afraid of large spiders, people in South and Middle America are not and in fact eat them. At the same time, people in Europe are amongst most arachnophobic in the world and there are no dangerous spiders at all in Europe. (Of course it may be that some people have in the course of cultural development simply overcome their fear of spiders while others have maintained it).
    In Europe spiders were blamed for the outbreak of the Black Plague – although really the rat fleas were responsible. But is this belief the cause of our fear or is the fear the cause we blamed the spiders?
    Some people claim that its their representation in movies that causes the fear of spiders (they attack and kill people, accompanied by scary and threatening music). I certainly remember one such scene in a movie I saw in my childhood, but I’m pretty sure that I already feared spiders back then… probably…

    Analyzing my own fear its seems to me, that the fear is caused by three factors: spiders look very different, they are fast and, most importantly, they are unpredictable – they alternate between extreme quickness and complete standstill. And, unlike insects, they like to stay hidden and out of the way, so when you see one, its usually a surprise.

    Emotional factors aside, spiders are very useful. They eat dust mites. And I don’t kill them – usually I don’t even take them outside, but leave them where they are… so they can keep terrorizing me. 🙂

    I really don’t know what to make of the theory in the previous comment 😛

  5. liriel says:

    The theory about little Tarzan-like spiders is sooo nice I want to see it live! I’ll keep my eye on my good little neighbor now, maybe I will be the first to see it 😀 Unfortunately I can’t just ask; or rather she hasn’t answered to any of my attempts at sound-based communication so far…

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