Thursday, November 7, 2013


There are lots of spider webs around here. I mean LOTS of them. The delivery woman carries a stick to slash through the tangle strung across the porch so she can bring packages to the front door without having to worry about arachnids crawling through her hair. There's one that's been dangling in front of our kitchen window for months (spider not delivery woman). It occasionally catches a fly and consumes it while I'm stuffing a chicken. And Bailey sometimes trails the remnants of a web as he dashes in to escape what stays caught on his ears and tail. They are everywhere.

And they're beautiful in their delicacy, the way the light breaks across the drops of water caught on the strands and splits into colors, the way strings of those drops drape like ropes of pearls: Nature's Flapper necklace.

But without the moisture, when the filaments double back on themselves, they make the flowers look unkempt, fussing up the smooth petals, contorting the leaves by pulling at the surface, and dulling the colors of the plant until, perhaps, we no longer see the plant at all.  

I think this might have been a red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum), but now it just looks like the armature for a spider's nervous breakdown, strung with illogical knots and aborted strands headed nowhere.

If I'd never seen this plant before, what would I look at first?  Would it be the damage, the web?  Would I dismiss the plant and move on to something else?  Would I even recognize what it used to be and still was?

Which brings me to a minor health event. While waiting for my sutures to come out this past week, I wondered, "Is this the way I'll see my face:  pulled and lined and dulled like a web-twisted plant? The doctor will see the quality of his work; the scar has a beauty for him. He knows what he accomplished, and my face becomes for him another creation, another success. 

But I will see how it pinches and slices what was once (relatively) smooth. I imagine how others will stare, caught by the web the scar presents, no longer seeing me as I was.

Before I got my stitches out, it was difficult to see beyond the green/blue Frankenstein sutures. I'm not prone to body art, so accentuating the twisted tissue into a kind of face-painting didn't do too much for me--hell, I don't even have pierced ears.  And, believe me,  I know the main thing is that the cancer is gone. I know others who have battled (won and lost) far more formidable opponents than mine. 
All the same, I was afraid of what I'd see and of ceasing to be who I am in the eyes of others. 

 And then the stitches came out.  I have a scar, a canal arcing down from my left eye and then branching out into two short red streams.  It's not at all as bad as I'd feared.  And though I notice eyes darting to it, lingering just a moment longer than a heartbeat, they return to my eyes and nothing has changed.
Campanula punctata 'Cherry Bells'

The spiders are still active in the garden.  But the flowers that have continued through Autumn don't seem much bothered by them.  The Campanula on the right barely tolerates the cobwebs that attempt to anchor themselves to its petals.  The color alone almost burns through the lacing.

And the spider silks pulling at the Anemone bud below aren't going to keep it from flowering.