While walking between buildings at work, I noticed a spiderweb. This is not unusual for me. I'm always looking for such things.
This spiderweb was suspended about 20 feet in the air, bridging the gap between the building and the nearest ornamental pear tree. The webmaker -a big, black garden spider- hung in mid-air above the path I must take.
Some of you just shuddered at that thought, but spiders don't bother me. My brain didn't even go there at the time. Here's where it did go.
That seemed to be a wonderful place for a web. She is a large spider. She probably needs larger prey, and those kinds of insects tend to fly higher. Up there, her web wouldn't get destroyed by some blundering mammal. Pretty smart, for a bug.
But she spun that web at night when a black spider can hang in mid-air without being noticed. In the daylight, she was quite visible. And vulnerable.
A big, black spider would make a nice snack for a barn swallow. We have lots of those around our office. Or a thrasher. We have one of those, too.
A spider has to eat. She builds her web where she hopes to catch the most food. But did she really need to hang there during the day, daring something bigger and hungrier to take its best shot? Could she not have waited on a leaf or under the guttering until her web was triggered? Was it arachnid arrogance or innocent ignorance that put her in such danger?
I naturally compared it to writing. A writer must spin webs where she is most likely to catch what she needs. But does a writer have to take stupid risks to find a payoff? Is there a "safe" way to achieve writerly goals?
I don't know the answer. I'll be thinking about it a lot.
The spider survived the day. She even caught something. You can bet I'll be looking up this morning.