The Silken Web of Life

Hanging by a thread — my spider friend and I

Photo by michael podger on Unsplash

(This photo isn’t of my new friend, Penelope, but it looks just like her.)

I have a new friend, a spider, that I have named Penelope. I’m not even sure whether it’s a she or not, but she is Penelope to me.

I first noticed her a while back, and admired her intricate work with her beautiful web. She decided to build her web right outside my sliding glass door, and I now have a front row seat to her life. She mostly comes out in the evening, except for a few brief visits to her web during the day.

I have mindlessly destroyed spiders in my past. Without a thought.

These days, since retiring, I have more time to actually observe all the wondrous life forms around me. Birds taking a bath in the back yard where I leave water not only in the small birdbath but also in the bottom of potted plants. Different birds seem to have different preferences for where they take their baths. I am happy to provide a choice.

And now there is a spider here with me hanging out and living her life. She is quite the hunter, waiting patiently for any bug that may be flying by that gets caught in her web. A web that is silky and seems so fragile, yet can easily withstand strong winds. 

I talk to Penelope during the day. Needless to say, the gardener that comes by thinks that I may have lost it when I told him to be careful to not touch Penelope and her web. 

I find such fascination watching her and allowing her to simply be where she has decided to build her home. And I learn about patience, vigilance, persistence. 

I volunteer at the local zoo observing the elephants. They have taught me much. And I now find that I have come to observe so many other creatures, something that I did not have time to do when working full time. Bugs were nuisances and pests back then. Now I see them as fellow beings simply trying to live their lives.

I watch Penelope in her daily life. I think about how each of us is trying to live our own life, have made our own home (web), are doing our best. Mostly.

I learn from all these creatures. I learn that it is enough to simply be who we are. Live the life that we can. Do our best. 

I learn patience (or at least I try to learn that). 

I learn that we will do what we need to survive. I feel for the bugs that get caught. But Penelope must live. She must eat. Circle of life. Fierceness of nature. Predators and prey. 

I learned about that fierceness as well from observing the webcam that our local university has of the peregrine falcoms that nest there on the university campanile. They mostly eat other birds. They must live, and must feed their young.

 I have learned that there is grief and loss everywhere in nature. One of the young falcons that I observed was attacked and killed by another falcon. I grieved, having watched this young bird grow up from soon after she hatched to her first day of flight. 

I have learned that there is beauty in each moment, that sometimes we get caught by surprise by these random moments of beauty and grace, if only we pay attention. 

I have learned humility, watching the strength and bonds that other creatures form. We are all connected. We are all fellow beings on this earth. We all have our own life spans. And we are all important in the bigger scheme of things. The ecosystem. 

I have also come to appreciate the honeybees and make sure to help them out if they get into trouble when trying to drink water from the various birdbaths. I provide twigs for them to climb on so that they can get back to safety. I have been quite afraid of bees in my past, but find myself among them when trying to help one and finding that I feel calm when they buzz around me. I know that they are trying to protect their water source and fending off any possible intruders. 

I watch the ballet of the birds taking their baths. Splashing, moving around to get a full bath, then the fluff dry cycle that comes after. 

Penelope is often hanging by a thread. I feel that way as well at times. 

It’s ok. We all are. The golden silky thread of life, more resilient at times than we think. But also knowing that there is a time for the end of the web, the end of a life, the end of that cycle. Until the next one forms. 

I watch my neighbor’s baby grow. I see my other neighbors ready to welcome their second child any day now. The next cycle in the making, as mine comes to an end, whenever that may be. 

I am going to be 70 next year, so the time and passage of life become more real with each precious moment. And I appreciate them all. Each fragile, yet powerful, strand that makes up my particular web. Each breath of wind that comes by. Each life that shares the earth with me. Human and non human. I am filled with gratitude and awe. 

I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes of Ram Dass. We are all just walking each other home. 

9 thoughts on “The Silken Web of Life

    1. I’ve been thinking about that…. Her babies….. Hopefully they’ll all have a happy life… Outside! I’ll be glad to pass along your message to her…. She’s sleeping in at the moment!


  1. Thanks, Jo. Loved what you wrote. Helps me to appreciate each and every passing moment. Makes me pay more attention to the natural world around me. Love this part: I learn from all these creatures. I learn that it is enough to simply be who we are. Live the life that we can. Do our best. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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