Above, Spider Web on Bridge Railing, October 8, 2017
I have been recording books as a hobby for LibriVox since 2008. Rather than familiar topics, I tend to let my curiosity lead me to books which open my mind to new knowledge. Such is the case with the book I read for LibriVox in the fall of 2017: Spiders by Cecil Warburton. As I age, I am of the opinion that remaining curious is a survival necessity!
How I became curious about spiders and their webs begins with walking. For years now (it’s 14 years since I retired), I have taken a long morning walk in our local forest preserve. Most days, my ramble takes me across a pedestrian bridge, which you can see in the photo. This bridge crosses a small creek, and the creek’s flood plain.. The bridge has a wooden floor and heavy iron slab railings, which have rusted into a deep rich red-brown color.
For quite a few years now, I’ve noticed that the bridge railings were covered with spider webs. They glistened with dew in the early morning sun. I would admire the webs in passing, but I never actually examined any of them until I acquired a cell phone with a camera. Then I thought the webs might be interesting subjects for the camera’s close-up abilities, and I stopped to really “look” at a few of them. And, wonder of wonder, they were inhabited! There were handsome yellow and black spiders sitting majestically in the center of net domains, and there were tiny white spiders, not more than a quarter of an inch in size creating webs a foot in diameter! Just amazing!
I began to photograph the webs, trying to capture their artistry and the quality of “abstract, or “graphic” art which they conveyed to me. I included the spiders too, when I could (not, admittedly the easiest creatures to photograph). Then I began to read a little about spiders, starting with a selection called “The Circular Snare” for the 51st volume of the Librivox Nonfiction Collection. On my website page for this reading, you can see a spectacular circular snare.
The pedestrian bridge railings make a home for funnel web spiders. They stretch their webs out along an iron railing and hide their funnel between the railing and an upright post.
You can see a second, circular web in the background, with a small spider in its center!
Here are a few more of my readings prompted by “curiosity.”