Connected Community

Dew-covered, these webs are NOT invisible at first light.
Dew-covered, these webs are NOT invisible at first light. Click to enlarge.

What the world (and my image archive) does not need is more pictures of spider webs. But I am a sucker for design in nature. Order in a world of disorder draws me in, speaks to me, teaches me and gives me hope. And questions. But the latter is for an audience I have not located, so I’ll move along here.

From this image of ordinary outdoor happenings on Goose Creek, more bowl-and-doily spiders have been at work in the coralberry at pasture’s edge. These hundred webs spring up overnight, as if spun by elves, each representing literally thousands of planned and precise movements by creatures whose central ganglion–a dot of a brain no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.

What I have failed to notice (and herein is the chief reason to never think been-there done-that when faced with the ordinary) that these discrete one-spider creations are not isolated. Between many but not all of these isolated webs that are typically a few feet apart are bridge lines connecting one bowl to another, and that one, to another yet. See them?

But why? For conjugal visiting purposes? As avenues for social calls? As networks of communication like tin cans at opposite ends of the string–shout in case of emergency!

If I had to guess I’d venture that mating access explains the web connectors, but I don’t know that. I wonder if anybody has asked this question and found an answer.

Meanwhile, I am delighted to know that the old dog even yet continues to have his senses exposed to new tricks in the natural world–an embedded biology-watcher at home in Middle Earth.

Reminds me of something we heard Thomas Berry say in the Saturday night movie, The Great Story: “If a child’s outer world is impoverished [FF: read: nature deficit disorder] then their inner world will be impoverished.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. They say you usually see a bunch of them in close proximity to facilitate mating. So maybe these connections are for that purpose? Are they all connected? I just see this one…..

  2. Not all were but enough to notice—for the first time. They are such tiny spiders to put out so much silk, or so it seems when the dew makes it visible. Later in the day, the webs “disappear” as they should if they are to do their best work.

  3. I’m so glad that the natural world is immune from “been there, done that.” At our age, lots of other things are that way.