Spiders, window wells and Mother Ocean

My office at work is located in what we like to call the “Garden Level.” It’s the basement, although a nice, recently renovated basement complete with painted window wells. More accurately, golf course inspired murals adorn the once gray walls of our window wells. They were painted by a former WSU art student who now owns her own business, Danielle Studios. The murals are an extension of Braeburn Golf Course on the campus, and are colorful and relaxing. Much better than gazing out at dull, gray concrete.

Except that right now, they are filled with spiders. Many spiders.  A rather large spider commune. They began moving in during the winter months and the word has definitely spread throughout the spider kingdom that if you are searching for a location to build a new home, this is the place to be. Protected from the Kansas winds, sudden downpours, mowers, and other creatures, the window wells are a safe haven for the spider community.

I check on our Charlotte Commune on a daily basis to see how many new additions have arrived, check to see if any of our older residents are still kicking (some have died, falling to the floor of the window well to shrivel up among the carcasses of the many insects that have fed the commune), and count nests. There were seventeen baby spider nests last count. I have no idea how many babies will be released from these nests because I’m not quite sure about the type of spiders that have chosen to live here. They are all spindley-legged with bodies the size of pencil erasers. Some are light brown or grayish black. They all build the same kind of nest and the same kind of elongated web. Not a Charlotte-type of web, intricate and octagon shaped, but long and stretchy.

Still beautiful. I’m amazed at their skill. Their ability to attach these wisps of homes to the colored cement walls, stretching them from one side of the window well to the other. This morning, while making photo copies, I watched one newcomer, a pearlish-gray spider, create her elongated Taj Mahal. The web was huge. I figured she was trying to keep up with the Arachna-joneses. She would drop from the almost-top of the window well, like she was repelling off the side of a cliff, one skinny leg clinging to the released silk, coming to a sudden jerky stop before climbing her way back only to silently, gracefully plummet once more. She seemed determined and fearless.

And I wondered if she knew that only 850 miles south, her fellow creatures were struggling and dying in a poisoned environment created by greed, arrogance, and ignorance. While this elegant eight-legged creature focused on her mansion of silk, Mother Ocean was choking on the black sludge of mankind, the smell of devastation and extinction heavy in the sea air. I had read this morning of the horrific impact the oil spill will have on bird life, We are all Gulf victims now, and imagined the window well filled to capacity, a NO VACANCY sign hanging over the Egress window well cover. I’ve carried deep in my heart the knowledge that this oil spill will be global-changing, a catastrophy never reversed. And I forgot about the photo copies and continued to watch her effortless building, oblivious to the future, only knowing that for now she had a safe haven to build her nest. Her future. For now.

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