This time of year the orb spiders put on their late night show, usually when and where we humans aren’t looking. But sometimes I set out to notice. It’s like getting a free ticket to watch these agile actors at work.
As the afternoon wanes into dusk, and if you’re looking, say, between two trees that have grown close together, at first you see nothing but deepening sky.
And then a tiny spec appears, walking down an invisible stairway from high on one tree to a spot lower on its neighbor. It makes a return trip, and another. I can’t see the web but it’s there. Chances are she built a web last night, too, but the efficient spider ate it when the night’s festivities had concluded and is now reusing her silk to weave a new stage. Soon it will be too dark for me to watch, but this is the best part anyway.
If I turn toward my house I see — nothing — where there was something last night. Did that spider meet an untimely end?
I suspect that the spider is gone when I finally glimpse the drab gray web, now twenty-four hours old, hanging lifelessly beside my night lights.
Yet when I stand just so and look up through the web, it looks better than I’d imagined. Could the proprietor be waiting in the wings for the show to begin?
The light fades a bit more, just enough for my slight movement to turn on the lights. Just like that, it’s show time. And there, right on time and in the center of her stage, is our star performer. Without acknowledging her audience, she sets to work at once as the lights do their job of attracting small flying things for her menu.
The robust size of this actress attests to her knack for applying the old adage, location, location, location.
The show goes on past my bedtime. By 6:00 a.m. I pour my coffee and stand outside, trying to locate the site of last night’s show. Nothing. Or is there? Tonight perhaps there will be an encore performance.