As the heat of summer begins to cool, one distinct sign of autumn in the Pacific Northwest is the display of spiders spinning their webs.
It happens overnight as if they all decide in unison, tonight is the night.
And just like that, at the sun’s first light, thousands of webs, with their tiny creators clinging to them, appear in the oddest places — across sidewalks, attached to broom handles, and adorning car doors and side mirrors.
Sometimes the first build isn’t in the best of places for a forever home, but this little creature is resilient.
Araneus diadematus, also known as the Cross Orb Weaver, is non-venomous and completely harmless to humans and is the most common web-weaving spider in Western Washington State.
We share gardens, walkways, and occasionally kitchen space, with these little creatures. We know how to compost and recycle, but could not, with our best efforts, come close to the radical recycling they perform every day.
What if I told you,
Yesterday, I took apart my house, board from nail, and ate it for dinner. Then I reused the digested material to rebuild it again — better than before. And I plan to do the same thing again tonight.
You’d say, impossible!
But not so for little Araneus. From the time it reaches maturity in the mid-summer, to its death in early winter, the Cross Orb Weaver will have eaten and rebuilt its web over 100 times by rolling it up into a ball, consuming it, and then re-using the silk proteins.
We may never know the inner working of the minds of spiders, but if they could speak, I imagine they might tell a story of life in the web. One of impermanence, resilience, disappointment, joy, growth, and of building life and home from a source that will truly never run dry — from within.
Spring will come again, and with it, a new generation of Orb Weavers, protected from the winter rains by a thick swatch of silk — a legacy made of the same threads their mother used to spin a hundred webs.
Olympic Mountain EarthWisdom Circle celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year on December 7th. We hope you’ll join us for a Live Online Anniversary Event — Details to be announced soon!
OMEC Board Member