musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Introducing Boris

It had become a nightly ritual. As I brought clothes into the bathroom for a shower before I went to bed, I saw you in a twisted ball, quickly maneuvering back into your web. So quickly did you take up your spot, then perfectly immobile and poised like a portrait, that it seemed you had heard me coming. It was as if you were trying to make it appear that you hadn’t relinquished your post, and were hastening to be back by the time I returned. My attention was immediately drawn once again to the window, and there you were.

With such ease, such stealth, and then still as a statue, like one of those ornate pins I purchased in Europe in the 1980s, the round abdomen made of colored glass, or fashioned of silver with tiny rhinestones embedded in the metal. I was so fascinated with those glamorous insects, I started a small collection.

It’s eerie how you come and go with my own movements. You stand watch while I shower, and as I’m getting out and preparing for bed, you scurry off for a while, having fulfilled your service, temporarily off duty.


It began with a soft horror – that automatic repulsion one feels for insects, rodents, creatures that one places firmly and correctly in wild places, developing an aversion when they happen into your domesticated realm. But after the comforting “oh, he’s outside” realization settled in, I moved closer to the bathroom window to get a good look. And was amazed.

The prehistoric timeless grandeur, the intricate tortoise shell markings on the bulging abdomen, the whimsically striped legs – more an elaborate broach than a living thing. But living it was, as I discovered a few times, coming into the bathroom in the middle of the night to discover Boris (I had named him by then) climbing back into his elaborate web, after having been out for an evening stroll. Unglamorously contorting until he worked himself into the center, in a few seconds he had become once again the stoic figure.

“Must be global warming,” I murmur to myself, as he listens in from the other side of the window, watching me. Somehow he walked out of the wilds of the Australian outback, straight from the pages of National Geographic, and onto the window of a house in North suburban Boston. Not possible. Or at least, highly unlikely. Part of the ‘new normal,’ I suppose.


If I were the sort of person who was cosmically and spiritually so inclined, I might envision Boris’s arrival outside my bathroom window as some kind of “sign.” A messenger of the gods, perhaps, or maybe a Carlos Castaneda apparition. Who’s to say? I don’t profess to understand the language of spiders, so I’m at a loss to fathom its meaning. But as much as I try to shake it off, chalking it up to insecurity and fatigue, I can’t help but feel that Boris is trying (quite patiently, I might add) to impart some message or sacred knowledge somehow.

Might it be something about fortitude and determination? The web, like its inhabitant, is magnificent. And highly improbable. Delicate, intricate, and elaborate beyond belief. Impossibly strong against blustery winds. Stickily ensnaring all that trespasses, and yet somehow he himself manages not to get entangled in his own creation. It’s a feat I have yet to master.

Or maybe it’s all about pride in achievement. Ensconced in his lair, he is clearly the master of his domain. Though not in a self-aggrandizing fashion. Humble and unassuming. That’s just the way it is. The way nature designed him. So noble. So self-assured. So symmetrical. Is it really that easy?

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1 Comment

  1. A beautifully written little story that makes one almost wish that they too should be so lucky to have their own pet spider guardian.
    I did have a pet preying mantis once…..who used to come out every night for a few weeks when I was writing my feelings, on my computer, usually with a glass of red at hand, and it would crawl along the bottom of the screen, then just sit there as I wrote. It became my little pal, at a rather lonely and challenging time after my marriage ended. When I had finished the little book of forgiveness I was writing for my ex husband, in order for us to both move on, my little pal returned no more. So, you see Julie, I understand xo

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