Yesterday we had some surprise visitors in our garden. I was out early before my walk to check on the plants because we’d had a hard frost the night before and I wanted to see how everybody managed. (It had rained in addition to the cold temps. Some things really needed to be covered that weren’t. (Sweet potato vine, some parsley, and basil didn’t die but some of their leaves did. The strawberries on the other hand have been surviving since early April so they seem immune to the cold and luckily the tiny little kale sprouts survived as well!)
Anyway, when I was out, I noticed a web of sorts on the fence separating our yard from our neighbor’s with a big brown spot in the middle. Wondering if it was a big spider I went to have a closer look.
Now, I’m not a fan of spiders inside the house. An errant Daddy-Long-legs or two is one thing but anything else is usually cause for me to put on a brave face in front of the girls or get someone else to kill it when the girls aren’t paying attention. Outdoors though, I’m kind of impressed by them–how long they live, their sheer size and web-making ability.
What was on the fence however, appeared to be eggs of some kind. Concerned that it might be something gross that was going to imminently hatch and irritate me all summer I contacted all my garden experts via Instagram to see if anyone recognized what these things might be.
Only one expert really lived up to the name and tipped me off that they might actually be tiny spiders and not eggs at all. After closer inspection, she was right!
Tiny little brown and yellow spiders, likely hundreds of them, all clumped together. Just waiting.
In general spiders are good pests to have around. They trap and eat other pestier pests. Garden spiders are just one more cool critter that chose our garden for their home. The more the merrier, I figure. And since they don’t want to live inside your house, they really are no cause for worry.
While Little Bean was sleeping, Big Sister and I headed outside so that I could introduce her to the baby spiders. They remained clumped in their little pack but periodically one or two would move around and then near the end of the afternoon they spread out a bit leading us to the believe that maybe they were ready to be on their way.
Big Sister was immediately enamored with the whole pack of them and kept calling them Our garden friends. Turning over a plant pot and using it as a make-shift stool, she sat most of the afternoon just watching the baby spiders. She called me over to have a look at what they were doing and began to cry because they seemed like they were ready to disperse.
I had already read to her about them and she was particularly upset by the fact that they were going to grow up quickly and move on. From her perch she said, I want them to stay here. Then starting to cry, I don’t want them to leave. I hugged her and explained that some of them would certainly choose our garden as their home.
Later she continued– hopelessly, When they are grown-up spiders, they can choose to live where ever they want.
Yes, I nodded in confirmation.
Well, she started, I just wish I could choose for them.
What ensued was a conversation about children and mommies and the difficulty of the mommies thinking they know better for the kids but the kids needing to learn and choose on their own. This is a chat I certainly didn’t expect to have so soon.
Big Sister sat with them for the rest of the afternoon and then said goodbye when it was time to go inside for dinner.
Today she seemed to have forgotten all about her garden friends until I mentioned that they were still hanging around. Thrilled, she ran over to visit and explained to me what they were probably doing and why they hadn’t left yet. She still expressed concern that perhaps they were lonely or scared with two parents who just left them on the fence. I reassured her that they were fine and that they were all together.
My girls had a bad night of sleep and a rough morning. But sometimes the things you’d imagine only to be a nuisance (i.e. spider babies) give the universe a chance to show you the most beautiful parts of a person. I think Big Sister attaching herself so quickly to the spider babies is only the beginning of the beautiful she’s got hiding in her heart.
Now I’ve heard that kids who grow up on farms around wildlife have a much better time understanding the birds and bees when the time comes. I hope that’s true of kids who hang around the garden because Big Sister just asked me yesterday about how babies actually get into the mommy’s belly. I successfully distracted her with talk of birds nests and eggs but the conversation is obviously coming sooner than I thought.