It was late Friday afternoon – two days ago. I set off with Tess for our usual evening walk; now getting earlier each day to capture that last bit of, hopefully, sunlight.
Over the stone wall, something shimmered in the golden light. Something silver.
It took me back several hours. I hadn’t paid it much attention at the time. Two tradesmen loading their tools into the back of a transit van on Morecambe’s seafront. One had said: “Look, there’s snow on the mountains!”
I had smiled… the iPhone had earlier revealed it to be 19 degrees. Not likely there would be any snow on the Howgill Hills at which the man was pointing. But I looked, anyway.
He was certainly right to draw attention to it. The brightness reflecting off the far-away hills looked like exposed limestone; only I’d never seen such a reflection on the usually verdant Howgills, before. Strange…
I filed it away under ‘unsolved’ and we continued with our journey to collect Bernie’s sister. That had been several hours ago.
Our dog-walk takes us along the old canal path and out into a broad field that the 19th century boatmen described as offering the best view of the whole length of the Preston-Kendal waterway.
The silver shimmering glimpsed over the fence was revealed to be an entire covering of what looked like a spider’s ‘sheet-web’.
I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve researched it on the internet and the only match is a spider the size of a thumbnail called Darwin’s Bark Spider. It can shoot it’s web strands for up to 30 metres.
Back home, I put the photos on FaceBook, and asked for advice on the origin of the webs. Most if my friends had never seen anything like them, either. Then someone suggested consulting a specialist ‘spider-Ident’ site, which I was able to join, immediately. Within tow hours, I had the answer…
The webs were ‘sheet-webs’ and created by thousands of tiny money-spiders. The season has been mild and so this is happening later than normal.
The spiders are so tiny, they are very difficult to see, which adds to the exotic mystery!
©Stephen Tanham 2021
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.