There is a jumpy spider sharing my desk with me. I discovered it when I sat down and rearranged the mess to write. His lair was under some papers and he fled when I lifted them. But now, as I am trying to find a cogent thought, he has positioned himself on the pedestal of the desk lamp.The spider is more than an inch long, though relatively narrow. He could be a miniature robot, as his eight-legged coordination is inherently calculated. He’d be menacing were he not upholstered in an exoskeleton of silver velvet. He gleams no less handsomely than a fine horse, and watching him is ample distraction from matters at hand. He sidles forward and reverse, he spins and stops.
I lean near. His head pivots, and our eyes are locked. I’d not have time to think about adopting an aggressive stance, because he already has—and I am the one who has reeled back and away. He stares in my direction a little longer and then begins to paw at the air with his two furry tibiae. I decide it is best to watch this indignant weaver from a respectable distance. He begins to explore his position again, moving forward then back so purposefully that I would swear he had an invisible partner for this extensive two-step.
Then he leaps. He clears the 3 inches to an adjacent penholder and lands squarely on a magic marker. Given his heft, I cannot believe this act was silent (to me). Now that he has gotten into the margin of direct light, I can see more clearly that his two paddles, or tibiae, are working like fingers fining out a silken thread. It waves momentarily in the air behind him. He leaps again, to the top of another pen, and the gossamer plume, more like smoke than line, is emitted. He makes a few more leaps and then spirals down into the shadows below the jar’s rim.
I know a lot of people would have dispatched this creature. I consider spiders part of a household’s fauna, a predator that keeps something else in check, and so I am happy to have them in the domestic ecosystem. In this instance, however, a little research tells me that I might have thrown the spider out for a different host of reasons.
For my own sense of pride, I will assume there was a female of his kind nearby—for what the amorous little fellow was doing was not dinner behavior but mating behavior. And one could say, in human terms, he was even acting obscenely.
Which explains why I saw “smoke.”