Monday, 22 September 2014

windrose or indian summer

There is nothing quite like the liminal sensation of having stumbled through and ruined the handiwork of an industrious and overly ambitious spider—both for the way it must make one look to others and for the temporary touch of these threads. Over the weekend, H and I were having a drink at an outdoor cafรฉ.

A old woman sat at a table directly behind me, and she did not linger as long as we did in the sunny and breezy afternoon, and shortly before her departing, I started to feel the fleeting glance of impossibly thin filaments. In the moment, I became convinced that when my back was turned, this witch had slyly cast a webby spell on me.  I felt a bit unnerved that the feeling was not going away, and H told me, on the contrary, that this sort of weather—a burst of an Indian Summer as we would say in English, was called Altweibersommer in German. This name, however, did not refer to the age of woman and any cobwebs that she most assuredly was not dusting off, but rather to the errant filaments of spider-silk, which can appear like long grey hairs and are born in the wind at this time of year. The stray threads are the parachutes—hopefully the discarded lifelines—of the recently hatched young of the tiny bowl-and-doily spiders that carry the broods to all corners. I like the poetic Altweibersommer much better than the other term, which seems a bit morose and disappointed, alarmist and not with a hint of rebirth.