It’s been a few weeks since I’ve used my “room of her own” down in the basement. G got me a sweet notebook computer before BlogHer so I’ve been writing in bed, on the couch, outside, wherever.
This weekend, though, I retreated to my lair to write while the kids played quietly with collaborative educational games made from all natural materials (or watched Max and Ruby while sniping at each other–it’s all a blur). When I settled down at my writing table and looked out the window, to my delight, I discovered a new neighbor had moved in:
“Hello, Charlotte!” I cooed to her. Is there any better name for a giant spider? Nope.
Her web stretches across the window that’s right at ground level. Good eating there. When I first stepped closer to the window, she scuttled a few inches higher into her web until she decided I wasn’t anything to worry about. Her wide spiral web bounced gently from her sudden motion. As it stilled, I watched her pluck the web with her front legs to set it swaying again. Her large yellow and black body perched on the white zig zag line that runs down the middle of a Charlotte web. That white line is usually the first thing I see when these spiders set up house in the fall.
And because I was supposed to be writing, and there are 1000 ways to avoid writing, I did some research on my new friend instead. Most call her the “Common Black and Yellow Garden Spider” but that hardly seems flattering. I like the sound of her Latin name: Argiope aurantia.
So much for getting away from writing–I giggled when I discovered that she is also nicknamed “The Writing Spider” for that zig zaggy line that stabilizes her web. Oh, we are going to get along just fine!
Did you ever hear the legend of the writing spiders? If you find your name spelled in her web, death will visit you soon. Makes me grateful that I have a few wiggly and curvy letters in my name, but now I worry about Vivi. That’s a whole lot of straight lines.
I can’t think of a writing spider without thinking of Wilbur the pig, Fern and Charlotte and Templeton the rat. That story turned the legend of the writing spider upside down. The clever spider in “Charlotte’s Web” spelled encouraging messages like “Some Pig” and “Terrific” into her web to keep Wilbur from being turned into bacon. In turn, Wilbur watches over Charlotte’s egg sac so that her babies will be born back at the farm after she is gone. So she can pass something along to the world that lives on without her.
I was talking to an author a few weeks ago (Anne Nahm) about how she found the courage to convince herself she could write a book. “If you don’t do it, you could die never having written that book.” Well, shit, Anne. Way to cut to the chase. It’s hard to dilly dally around that one.
This Charlotte outside my window will build a papery sac for her eggs this fall then she will die before the winter. The babies will be born and they will continue to live in the sac over the cold months. Next spring, they’ll emerge and wander off into my garden. I hope to have something to show them by then. Something written in my web.
My story also features a pig and a kind girl, and a sweet soul who left before the story was done.