Can you see it? Look closely. If you were an insect, especially a flying insect such as a mosquito or gnat or moth (yeah, especially a tasty moth), you better hope you see it. Or you’re dead.

Invisible Spider


Now can you see it in this enlargement?

Now you see it Spider


How about now?

Super Close


Yep. There she is in all her splendor…Argiope Agentata. I came upon her a couple weeks ago on a cliff above Point Dume about five miles north of Malibu beach. I took these shots with my phone.

It was early morning and I was heading to the bluffs to check out the fishing below. I didn’t see the web at first, not until I got closer, much closer. By the time I saw her, my face was nearly touching her belly. She could have bitten me. But she didn’t bite me. She was waiting for someone else, some unsuspecting creature to get entangled in her web.

Once I saw the web clearly, I stood back and marveled at it. It was at least two and half feet in diameter. A gorgeous construction with the odd stabilimenta, the silky “stitches,” occurring in random positions around the web and looking as if repair work had been done with cotton thread. Not so. These stitches are purposeful additions to the web. But exactly what their purpose is–decoration, stability control, protective measures to keep birds from accidentally flying into the web or seductive enticements to attract winged insects, Arachnologists cannot agree.

Her Genus name, Argiope, means silver-faced, and the Species name, Agentata, means sliver, like the country name, Argentina. So this big girl goes by the name of the Silver-Faced Silver Garden Spider. These pictures are of her underside, the side she likes to expose to the world (naughty girl!) so you can’t see her silver face. And yes, she will bite if necessary, a bite that is painful with a sharp sting and pronounced swelling that lasts for a day or two.

What struck me most was the silence of the whole scene on this morning. The unsuspecting nature of it all. You’re flitting through the air in the grandeur of a new day, the ocean sun glistening as it filters through the early mist, a light breeze carrying you aloft…and BLAM!…you fly right into this sticky web and your whole day, your whole life is over. Miss Silver Face here dashes over to you and gives you a little nip that transfers some of her precious venom into your precious nervous system and you are suddenly at ease with the universe.

And I? Yes I, well I was headed to my fishing grounds. I would soon be throwing out my own lure to ensnare my own meal, some unsuspecting halibut or perch or corbina. And what of the corbina or halibut or perch? Yes, they too were on the prowl. They, too, were sneaking or dashing or hiding in wait for some unsuspecting bait fish to swim by. Too bad for them today that instead of a plump sardine or anchovy they will bite my lure. And likewise, the sardine and anchovy are in search of their own prey, and on and on it goes…

It suddenly surrounds me on this promontory above the sea. Every creature in the air, the water, the dirt, the bushes, all of them, all of them are focused on themselves and their kill. And yet each self is integrally connected to other selves unwittingly. It’s all too much for me to take as George Harrison sang.

Not always, but today at this very moment, the connectedness is overwhelming.

I’m afraid to take a step. Nervous to get back in the car and drive the coastal road home. What is waiting out there for me? How can I possibly prepare for it? I can’t of course. Life moves in its own hidden way, and the more we plan the more disappointment sneaks in.

These are platitudes surely, and yet I learn them again and over and over in endless cycles. I forget. I remember. I go blind. I see again. Sail me on a silver sun where I know that I’m free. Show me that I’m everywhere and get me home for tea.

This spider web and this silver-faced charmer at its center, reminded me on this morning just how close the end is and how infinite the beginning will be.



One Response to Sometimes…It’s All Too Much

  1. Peter says:

    Life goes on because we direct our lives! This was amazing. I am sailing on a silver sun and I KNOW I AM FREE!

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