SPIDER ACROBAT

A/N: This is a true story about a creature I admire very much – a spider. A tiny little fellow, but what an acrobat it was!

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I was sitting thoughtfully in the tram, gazing out of the window. The glass was stained with dried raindrops and looked dingy. Something green attached to the sill caught my attention; my eyes focused upon it with interest. The green object turned out to be tiny in size with thin legs – eight in number – a head and an abdomen. It was a spider. I coaxed it onto my hand, not caring about what the other passengers riding on the tram would think of this eccentric behaviour. I held the spider close to my face. It was a truly handsome little fellow, somewhat larger than the head of a pin; it was green as polished jade and a dark-red splotch or dot decorated its abdomen. Obviously displeased at my having dislodged it, it scuttled swiftly over my palm and proceeded to wander around my rucksack, climbing up and down the folds and bumps while I watched on with fascination. After a while, the spider grew bored. It had inspected my rucksack thoroughly and pronounced it unfit for even a temporary abode. There were other places to explore than a student's lumpy rucksack. To my utter surprise, it now proceeded to spin a nearly invisible thread of silk, using my rucksack as a kind of "anchor"; the source of this slender thread were special spinning glands located at the tip of the abdomen. The spider rose in the air and hung before my face, suspended motionlessly for a moment or two. Then, still spinning, it used its silken rope to balance across the gap which separated my seat, which was on the right side of the tram, from the seats on the left side. It moved along in a neat diagonal path, a green dot propelling itself forwards as if in thin air; but when the sunrays shone through the window, I could see the line of silk. As the tram slowed to a rattling halt, the spider successfully reached its goal – a hand pole for the passengers to hold on. The doors of the tram hissed open and a man entered. To my consternation, he gripped the pole where the spider had landed.

He is going to crush it, I thought. But no; the green dot slid downwards with roughly the speed of lightning, just before the large menacing hand gripped the pole. The spider was now motionless, the green hue standing out vividly from the chipped grey paint of its resting place; it was now safe to break the thread which still connected my rucksack to the pole. I felt like bursting into applause. The spider had completed a circus-worthy feat before my very eyes, proving itself to be an agile mathematician and acrobat merged into one. I was still smiling when I descended from the tram fifteen minutes later.

Who, I wondered, had the privilege of witnessing such a spectacular event? On the other hand, considering that spiders were not very popular with humans, and that this particular specimen – probably a member of Diaea spiders (crab spiders) – was tiny in size, its achievement would probably be considered too trivial by most people. There were more important things to do than to admire a minute spider acrobat.

But to me, these are often the little things which give life a nearly magical quality, especially when the surroundings are completely ordinary.