Thursday, May 15, 2008


The Santa Anas arrived today, blowing hot and dusty like morning breath, jarring rocks from the hillsides and spilling pollen into the air. The wind is a summer preview, weeks on end of triple digits, where the mercury threatens. I dressed in shirt sleeves and leaned into its warning as I crossed the parking lot toward the train station. On the platform, I waited in the shade of a pepper tree, bells jangling far off, when I saw a spider web, vast and intricate and beautiful, its fine threads pulled tense between leafy branches and bowed in the wind like a top sail. The spider, black like a scorched pan, scurried back and forth on its delicate creation, panicked and purposeful.

The forecast calls for winds up to 30 mph. The tensile strength of a spider web is comparable to high-grade steel. Its silk is able to stretch 40% of its length without breaking.

No contest.


At 3:14 PM, Blogger BigPirate said...

The wind got him and blew him 2600 miles east. He somehow strung a single strand between two parallel power lines, six feet apart and thirty feet off the ground at the end of my driveway. It is almost impossible to see until the sun hits it just so. Do spiders know of conductivity of electricity? Does their silk act as a conduit for energy? I searched the ground for a charred carcass. There was none to be found. Maybe he went to Georgia Tech and knows ohms better than I. I imagine he is most often ensconced in a nook in the power pole, venturing out to his bridge only to get to a web to check for lunch. I wonder if the strand hums between the two lines as he runs across.


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