Friday, August 31, 2007

Live and let live

Since moving to our beach cottage 13 years ago, I've developed a real fascination and appreciation of spiders. A few can definitely harm us, so we need to be careful around them - but they mostly keep to themselves and are quite beneficial and incredible to watch.

This yellow and black garden spider, with her web suspended among cattails at the edge of the creek, offered a perfect opportunity to observe and photograph.

Our beach cottage was built in the late-50's as a summer retreat. The original owner worked at a shipyard in Mobile and he and his sons basically built it from scratch using scavenged materials from where he worked. Constructed on pilings with lots of windows all around, it's like living in a tree house that just 'belongs' here among the sand oaks. There's nothing fancy about it, but it's been a wonderful place of self-discovery and, in many ways, my first real home. Sadly, I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Krebs or let him know how much I've loved calling it home.

Our time here is now divided into 'before Katrina' and 'after Katrina'. Three blocks from the beach, the house suffered damage but withstood Hurricane Frederic in 1979, Ivan in '04 and Katrina in '05 - but we lost our roof in Katrina and the house is forever changed. We had to redo the inside and I love it as much as before, but for different reasons now.

Before Katrina it was mostly as Mr. Krebs had left it. A home made house full of flaws, but somehow more real for it. It literally 'breathed' with the weather outside - more like camping with a roof over your head. The outside was kept at bay - but always with you, too. And that's how I learned to appreciate spiders. They spun their webs and occupied cracks and spaces around the windows and where the walls and ceiling met. As long as they were there, other insects didn't stand a chance. We didn't need a fly-swatter, the spiders thrived on them! In the unfinished storage area below, a funnel web grass spider occupied a large gap in the window frame and I was always mesmerized by any opportunity to observe it outside it's 'retreat'. Sadly, it did not survive the flooding of Hurricane Ivan.

If you haven't seen the story already, check out the GIANT SPIDER WEB IN TEXAS . Makes me glad I've learned to live with them!

More detail and a great picture of the web compiled by Mike Quinn is located at

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