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©September 2003

Carol Jane Remsburg





Road Warrior of the Arachnid







September always brings an abundance of spiders and this year has been no exception.  However, this year brought another twist, a traveling spider.  How so? 


Monday morning was, well, Monday morning—up early already grieving the weekend's passing and out the door and into the day.  I didn't notice it right off, the spider that is until well into my jaunt into work and after dropping the kid off at school.  The drive to work is a brief ten mile highway stint—running at just over the prescribed limit of the 55 mph, let's say about 60 or so. 


It was about halfway into town when through my coffee-starved consciousness I recognized something was banging on the passenger window of the truck.  Giving it a sidelong glance I saw something that appeared to be of a ball-like shape bouncing off the window and then back again.  Hmm, what the hell could that be I wondered?  Keeping in mind that I had yet to ingest but the most minimal amounts of caffeine, about all I was capable of was going through the motions of the morning and getting to work—other drivers do NOT slow, do NOT veer in front of me, and God forbid, don't have an accident on mornings like this for I am simply on auto-pilot.  Thus it took about another 20 seconds or so to figure out just what that bouncing ball was—a big FAT spider.


Believe it or not, I immediately began to slow the vehicle to a more sedate pace to reduce the bludgeoning effect that the speed was having on the spider.  Why you ask?  I felt sorry for her, bless her little heart.


I love most creatures.  Okay, I said most, not all.  I still have this snake issue, but remember they started it with me—okay? 


(Brief sidebar—snakes and I have long been at odds, they either love me or hate me I still don't know which, but I attract them and they chase me—the poisonous along with the "non" variety.  Either way, I simply hate them, sorry, they seem to have no soul.  Somehow it's reptiles that do me in.  Okay, you can add to the outcasts flying things with stingers.  Other than that, I'll coo over a skunk if you let me.)..


Back to the spider. . .

I did slow down and then began to worry.  I hoped it wouldn't be beaten to death before I got to work.  Even at slower speeds she was being tossed about violently on her tether from the radio antenna.  With a grateful sigh, I pulled into my parking slot and turned off the truck.  Her line dangled and dropped so she could scrabble up the side of the truck near the door handle.

I felt it was time to free her and hope that she hadn't been damaged too much.  I got out of the truck with a scrap of paper in hand to help whisk her off of the truck and into the grass where she might recover and find a new home.  She was still a very fat spider and appeared spry and lively.  Once in the dew of the grass, I left her feeling confident that I'd accomplished at least one good deed this morning and into the building I went.

Ten hours later, ten grueling hours later, I left the building dragging my butt in ways I don't like to think about, but then that's a Monday.  What to my surprise should I see?  That spider had not run off into the safe haven of the groomed landscaping of my employer with all the trees and the bushes and pristine sod.  She had run back up into my truck but did not settle on the antenna this time.  She'd opted for the bed of the pickup and had created an enormous web. 

There in the middle of the web she sat.  Looking as sassy and ready to roll as she could be.  The web was so large you couldn't miss it.  Other co-workers leaving the building also noticed her there.  It was a bit unusual.  Knowing the aerodynamics of the bed in the pickup, I didn't give her a chance on making it home with me.  I just knew the wind force would scoop her up and out and gone.  I debated over taking her out again and then decided against it.  She'd come right back and perhaps she wanted to go home.

I had to make a stop at the store on the way home, a longer route.  I kept glancing back to the web while it wavered and shook but never tore free.  Once home I checked on her.  Her web suffered no damage.  I bid her a good night knowing that after two wild rides she'd crawl out and find a better spot by morning.

Tuesday morning came.  Did I tell you I hate mornings?  They are hard to endure and manage to get through until I'm actually awake.  Still, the bright spot that morning was seeing my spider up and ready to ride.  She'd totally re-worked her web and was sitting pretty.  It was almost time for a name.

I told her to hold tight, just knowing that this time I'd lose her during the trip.  I was totally aware of her presence that morning.  Again, the web shuddered and shook but she seemed to enjoy it.  After I stopped and parked, I spoke to her again.  I told her she'd better think about a new locale and this was a much classier habitat for her than the one at home.  In spider-ese, I got no reaction—not a wink, not a smile, well, not a nothin'.

Upon leaving work on Tuesday, after another tough ten hours, I stopped again at the back of the truck.  "Charlotte", okay, now named in a totally unimaginative way was ready to roll.  As we were now under a hurricane watch, Hurricane Isabel, I had ANOTHER store stop to make and then home.  Somehow a leaf blew into her web—the speed of the truck, the leaf in the web acting like a parachute was a drag.  The leaf in the web ripped the webbing to shreds and once again put Charlotte perilously close to death.

Once I saw the damage that 'simple' leaf was doing to her web, I slowed to as slow as you can get away with on the highway, the law-abiding 55 mph.  It still ripped and tore and Charlotte was brutally tossed about.  Once home, I sprang out of the truck and to the back where Charlotte was trying to bite off the webbing surrounding the leaf.  I lent her a hand.  I carefully pulled the leaf out allowing her as much of the webbing left for her to re-ingest and spin out again.  She pulled back a few inches and allowed me to do the work.  What a little lady she is.

Within an hour Charlotte had a new web spun strong and broad with many tie-downs to help strengthen it.  With my truck on the dark side of the house, I turned on the side light to allow her to catch more food that might wing its way into her web.

Wednesday morning, rather than hoping she'd moved on, I began to hope she was still there.  She'd become my little "Road Warrior" for the ride.  And she was there, sassy as ever.  I started the truck, got back out, said my "good mornings" and told her to hold tight.

Our ride into town wasn't anything different than the previous two mornings—a little shaken, but not totally stirred—Charlotte stretched out in the morning sun to await the morning's catch.

Today the breeze of the outer bands of Hurricane Isabel began to blow, not hard or strong yet, but steady.  Charlotte's web gathered a myriad of dust and debris during the day.  This eve she opted not to ride the wild ride home in the center of her web but at one of her anchors on the back of the truck.  Thus the web did weave and bob but she didn't.  I think she found an easier ride that way.  Once home again, she tore down the web and rebuilt it—all within about an hour.  The photo on this page is just after she finished it.  She's ready again to snare her dinner and begin the morning tomorrow with me for another ride.

Yet tomorrow come the hard winds, the heavy rains, and something of at the very least a tropical storm if not hurricane winds.  To work I still must go, even if many businesses are already closed as with the schools.  Tomorrow I'll bring her off the truck and into a safe haven of a rosemary plant my sister gifted me with.  It's close to the house and Charlotte will find a new feeding ground after the storm passes. 

Charlotte has shown herself worthy of riding the wind, yet not of these winds and it would be very unfair to subject her to them at risk of her life.  I know she'll soon be laying her egg sack.  If any of her borning are worthy of her ilk, they may ride with me next year as well. 

In the meantime, know that funny things happen in life.  The life of a little spider can draw attention just as it did in the book.  The Charlotte in the book was sweet and kind, but someone I think my Charlotte is one hot little Road Warrior Momma who prefers things a little on the wild side.  Me, I'll opt to save her and her offspring for another season.

Protect your spiders, think them 'euggy' or not, they are pretty classy if you treat them with respect and observe them with a kind eye.  My Charlotte is a one tough spider. 

Go enjoy a little nature watching if you've missed out on it.  You never know when you'll have an extra passenger or two.


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