There was a big web in the backyard and maybe it’s the first time I thought this or maybe it comes to mind every year but I realized that this is the time not just for webs but for really big webs. They’re not just a sign of the season because cobwebs are de rigueur for haunted houses and spooky tunnels. In the northern latitudes most spiders are annuals, and as the summer ends, as the nights get longer and cooler, they have to step up their efforts before it’s time to lay eggs and make their final farewells. It’s why mosquitoes get more aggressive too, and being tiny bloodsuckers they seem like they should be part of any good haunting too, but they’re not as decorative as the traps our eight-legged friends weave. Even if you don’t like spiders you’ve probably found beauty in an orb web hung with morning dew.
Spider webs are heavy with meaning and history too. If you’ve read A Midsummer Night’s Dream you may remember that there’s a fairy named Cobweb, and Bottom says to him, “If I cut my finger, I’ll use you as a bandage to stop the bleeding.” Webs as bandages date back at least as far as the ancient Greeks who would use clusters of spider silk on cuts, after they cleaned a wound with vinegar and honey and with that combination in your cut adding a spider web to it doesn’t sound so bad. Walking through a spider web by mistake doesn’t seem so bad either, although it’s never getting web on me that bothers me. It’s the possibility of getting a spider somewhere on me that’s the problem. I love spiders, really–I just don’t want one down my shirt.
And there’s even more significance in the healing power of webs. They tie one season to another, carrying us over to the new year.