Monday, August 22, 2005

Ode to Aragog :(

For the last few weeks, we have had a resident spider living right outside our back door. She was an enormous spider, with a fat body and long, red-striped legs. She would curl up in the corner of the door moulding during the day, staying cool out of the sun. Then, as soon as the sun had completely set, she would venture out and begin weaving her web. She started by anchoring it with one long thread to the bottom of the door, then she would construct the spokes radiating from the center. She handled the silken threads with her many legs, wrapping them, and placing them exactly where she wanted them to go. Reminiscent of a knitter, round and round she would go, until her spiral filled the top half of the door. Then she would lie in wait in the center of her trap.

It was fascinating to watch her. She would tease the smaller bugs who were unlucky enough to be attracted by the porch light, only to fall into her weaving. I watched her tap on the strings, making her prey bounce, daring them to escape. If larger bugs, usually moths, ventured close enough, she would race out and attempt a catch. If sucessful, her legs worked furiously, wrapping the invader in a matter of seconds. With a few flicks of her legs, the parcel would be detached, and taken back to the center of her wheel, where she would begin her meal.

I dubbed her Aragog, to the argument of my eldest daughter, who seemed intent to call her Ernie. I thought she was far too interesting and mysterious to be called "Ernie." So, for me at least, she took the name of the giant spider with whom Harry Potter was aquainted. She provided me hours of evening entertainment over several weeks, when I would study her amazing habits. The children feared her at first, and wanted her to be disposed of, until I pointed out how "cool" she was. They eventually adopted her as their pet. I didn't mind her close living quarters, since she chose the one french door that never gets opened, and since she cleaned up after herself every night. By morning, she had taken her web down, and assumed her corner spot until the sun sank again.

A few days ago, a suiter came to visit. He seemed to be the same type of spider, although I am no expert, and he was much smaller. He wooed her for two days, then he was gone. Two days after that, Aragog had disappeared as well. Whether she packed up to follow her love, or whether something tragic had befallen her, I will never know. But her antics no longer fill my door. I still hold on to some, perhaps unreasonable, hope that either she or her offspring will return. We shall see.


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