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Nature’s mandala

The other day I saw a huge, completely concentric, perfectly spiraled spiderweb right outside my kitchen window. In the center of this minor masterpiece was a large brown striped spider, hanging in the middle to wait for his prey. With his arms outstretched he was at least a full inch long, maybe larger.

It was beautiful. It was inspiring. And, the way it was positioned so close to my kitchen window, it was also completely unphotographable (at least with my limited equipment).

I frequently photograph and share the things that strike me, but here was a case where I had to just appreciate it in the moment. A spontaneous mandala.

Throughout the day I looked for the spider every time I went to the kitchen.

Early in the day I saw him in his usual spot in the center, feeding on the silk-wrapped body of a large fly. Later I saw him with, presumably, a second fly, and he’d also caught what looked like a small bee that he’d stashed higher up in his web for later. I watched, fascinated, as the lightly wrapped bee attempted to escape, telegraphing every movement throughout the web. Soon, the spider stopped feeding, climbed up to the bee, spun it a few more times to reinforce its spider-silk bonds, then returned to his lunch.

Have you ever watched a lion making its kill on a nature show and been struck by the cold reality of nature? Here it was, viewed from my kitchen window as I sipped a hot cocoa. It was macabre, and utterly fascinating.

All of this activity had of course done quite a bit of damage to that perfect spider web.

The next morning I was anxious to see if he had rebuilt the web, and he had: another perfect web was sitting in the place of the wreckage from the day before, but there was no sign of the spider. Throughout the day I returned to the window to look for him, but the spider never returned. Either he’d found a better hunting ground, or he’d become someone else’s meal.

That night we had our first real rain of the season and in the morning, all evidence that there had ever been a web was gone. Just like the sand mandalas of the Buddhists, it was there to take in one day, and gone the next.

The photo below is from Wikimedia, because I was serious when I said the position of the web outside my window made it unphotographable!