Saturday 2 December 2023


 The cold snap has well and truly arrived, with clear blue skies and deep frost, and this morning an arrestingly beautiful combination of mist and hoarfrost – the first I've seen in some while. The particular beauty of hoarfrost lies in the way it gives a silver-white lining to every leaf and twig and blade of grass – and spiderweb. Suddenly it becomes apparent how abundant and ubiquitous spiderwbebs are, and what an amazing feat of engineering each one is. When the lines of a web are rimed and thickened with hoarfrost, its's easier to see how, from the spider's point of view, web building is not a delicate affair but sheer hard work. As Kay Ryan puts it, beautifully, in her poem 'Spiderweb' – 

'From other
angles the
fibres look
fragile, but
not from the
spider’s, always
hauling coarse
ropes, hitching
lines to the
best posts
possible. It’s
heavy work
fighting sag,
winching up
give. It
isn’t ever
to live.'

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