I'm going to leave the pictures for later - first, the warning, for all my arachnophobic friends:
WARNING - THIS POST CONTAINS (AT THE VERY END, AFTER THE JUMP) PHOTOS OF BABY SPIDERS!! THEY ARE VERY CUTE, BUT I REALIZE THEY STILL MIGHT BE SCARY TO SOME OF YOU!! BUT THE STORY ITSELF IS NOT AT ALL SCARY!!! SO YOU COULD STILL READ THAT AND NOT LOOK AT THE PICTURES!!!! MAYBE I'LL POST A HARMLESS NON-SPIDER PHOTO FIRST, JUST SO YOU KNOW THE PICTURES ARE COMING (IF YOU'RE VIEWING THIS IN YOUR GOOGLE READER OR SOMETHING) AND AT THAT POINT YOU CAN DEPART!!!! OKAY??? GOOD!!!!
There. I did my good deed for the day. You can thank me later.
About a week ago I was heading out into the back yard one morning, and I don't even know what prompted me to look down between the gate post and one of the fence posts, but I did, and there it was: a strange clump of something caught in a sloppy looking spider web.
I looked closer and realized it wasn't an "it," it was a "them." LOTS of them. Teeny tiny baby garden spiders. All huddled together for safety and warmth. (Okay, I am anthropomorphosizing. It's fun.)
Naturally I scooted back inside to get my camera. Baby ANYTHING is worth a picture or twenty.
I took some pictures from the rather awkward angle of looking down and through the fence posts...and then I went around to the gate post side to see if the view would be better, and, lo and behold, there were MORE of them! This batch was hanging around on the side of the gate post that faces the other gate post - which meant I had a perfect up-close-and-annoying view of them.
There were one or two out of all zillion who had gotten brave and decided to leave the safety of their little groups. Tiny, tiny little perfectly formed spiders. I have never seen more adorable arachnids.
I took more pictures, and then I had to run out to the grocery store for something we needed right away. Before I left, I showed the babies to Alex.
You know how baby geese imprint on the first creature they see, and so if you are hanging around when they hatch, you are, to them, Mommy or Daddy?
Well Alex tends to imprint on baby animals. He sees them, and immediately becomes their guardian.
I love that boy.
Anyway, I showed him all the tiny babies and he was enthralled. And practical.
"I want to feed them! What if they're hungry?"
I told him they didn't need him to feed them - they were born knowing exactly what to do to get food (and besides, I didn't want him dropping enormous bugs into their tiny web and scaring them to death), but he could certainly watch them.
I got in the car and headed out, leaving Alex to tend his new pets.
Later, when I got back, Bill said Alex sat and watched the baby spiders for quite a while and was very protective.
"He even yelled at me - 'Dad! You're scaring them!' " Bill told me.
"What were you doing?" I asked.
"I was just walking by," he said.
Anyway, first, here is a TOTALLY HARMLESS AND NOT AT ALL SCARY PICTURE THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SPIDERS IN ANY WAY. IT IS ALEX DOING THE LIMBO UNDERNEATH THE STALKS OF SOME BABY RED ONIONS THAT WERE ON THE COUNTER RECENTLY:
Okay, now come the spider pictures....
The following picture - last one - was taken the next morning. Most of the babies are now separating from each other and bravely making their little spidery ways out into the world. And hopefully into all of our gardens, where they will protect our vegetables and flowers from pests, in gratitude for Alex's kindness and protectiveness.
If you'll excuse me, I have to go re-read Charlotte's Web now.