She’s gone

Vacant spot where Charlotte used to be

Charlotte’s gone. I knew the days were closing in when she failed to rebuild her web three nights in a row, but that didn’t make it any easier when I found her missing from her hiding spot in the strawberry tree. All that’s left are the remnants of a spider life well-lived. The tattered web, and its long, sturdy extension lines. The cluster of silk that once fastened her fabulous spider form to the cozy spot in the bark which now lies empty. It’s as though her body left a permanent imprint where she once spent her days sleeping and enjoying a bit of sun on her head.

Charlotte basking in the rays of the sun’s warmth

Have you ever seen a face in the crowd that reminded you of a long-lost loved one? If you have, you know that feeling where your heart flutters half-nervously and half-happily, only to take a gut-wrenching fall into your stomach when you realize there’s no way it can be who you thought it was. Well, that’s what happens every time I peer inside a different branch of the strawberry tree, hoping to find that Charlotte has simply moved to a cozier location. Clumps of leaves and berries, and the striking, peeling red bark on the tree, look amazingly like my little Charlotte. Though, I’m not surprised. She picked her camouflage very well.

The last night I saw Charlotte, she was hanging from a silken tether near her cozy spot, not doing much of anything, or so it seemed. My hope is that she had mated and laid her eggs, and was spinning silk to protect them through the winter. I found an egg sac within the vicinity, but it’s hard to say if it was the fruit of Charlotte’s labor, or another arachnid mother’s. Once orb-weavers complete the fastidious task of securing their egg sac, they move to a location where they can watch it for a while to ensure it doesn’t become damaged, requiring any final repairs. That is their last task on this earth, and then they pass on. Ironically, after all the effort Charlotte put into procreation, she will never meet any of the hundred or so spiderlings that emerge from that egg sac, or even know if the sac makes it through the winter. Perhaps to her, that puffy ball of silk is reward enough. That’s what I choose to believe, as I’d hate to think Charlotte gave me a greater reward than she ever experienced herself. And isn’t that, after all, what love is about?

Charlotte’s last night

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