Little Pie (my 5-year-old daughter) had several titles for this one, including “The Bug Park,” and”Spider Dead,” but finally decided on “The Freaky House.” I kind of liked her first title, which was “Baby.”
Well, gang, she didn’t rebuild… “my” spider… the one I was following all those months in the Clematis vine for my Filaments II series. I was deeply heartened to discover that she had survived the storms we experienced here, as a result of Hurricane Sandy. I was hopeful that she would reconstruct her splendid labyrinth, but, alas, she didn’t. I don’t know what happened to her–if she died, or moved on–but I will always remember her, and look for her relatives who may continue our Filaments collaboration in her stead.
I had a few minutes to dash over the few blocks to where my spider friend lives in a clematis vine and snap a quick shot (in what is now just a drizzling rain). I have to say I continue to be blown away when I realize how clever this spider is. While much of her web is destroyed, the core funnel of it is fine (even though it’s soaked), as it is nestled down safely beneath a thick bunch of leaves. She has her own umbrella! You can’t see her in the photograph, which shows the entrance to the funnel in the top left quadrant of the image beneath the leaf, but she’s in there. I saw her huddled down inside it, all big and leggy, just being her spider self. Hooray for her! I hope she’ll rebuild.
Let’s hope she makes it. Her web is already looking a bit ragged.
My co-artist for this series is (I believe) a Venusta Orchard Spider. There is a fairly long story to tell about her and her spectacular weaving and what she means to me. I will try to tell it in spurts over the course of the coming weeks, as I share images of her work (and hopefully of her).
I’ll begin by saying that it is this very spider (or perhaps her mother or grandmother–although I have read somewhere that these spiders can live for several years), and her very web (and the webs of her family), located in this Japanese Clematis (which I pronounce KLEM-uh-tis, as I learned from master gardner Miss Mary) was (is) actually my first true inspiration as a photographer. The kind of inspiration that completely sweeps you up, that draws you back over and over and over again in a kind of ecstatic creative mania.
In a way, Venusta was my first teacher of photography. I will also say that my relationship with this spider, so meaningful to me, goes back to the sculptor Louise Bourgeois, whose sculpture titled “Maman” had such a powerful impact on me the day I stood beneath it (just over four 1/2 years ago, a few weeks before the birth of my daughter) that I have never forgotten the experience. I will talk a little bit about that in a future installment.