Wednesday, August 07, 2013
Multiple birth at Apifera!
I've been watching - and last night it finally happened.
The Charlottes arrived.
They were born with perhaps the most patient and brave mother I've ever known. For Mama Charlotte tucked her little nest of babes in a perfect birthing place - under the wooden handle of the Donkey Hug door - a door I enter daily. Each time I lifted the wood handle I'd check to see how the expectant mother was. She must have had exactly the right amount of space between her body and the wood. She didn't seem to mind my daily intrusion and I didn't mind her presence.
After days and weeks of waiting for the new arrivals, one almost gets jaded about it. But last night at dusk when I went to get the sheep, I lifted the handle and there they were - a little family alive and moving about their new mother ship - a white gauze nest left after their birth. Mama Charlotte sat off to the side.
I am not sure why this birth was so exciting for me. I hadn't really been thinking of it obsessively, but when I saw them, I got very excited, happy and had a proud feeling for the spider as if I was the mid wife.
It is easy to attach human characteristics on our fellow creatures and perhaps that is what was partially going on in my heart. I knew that the mother had done her job well but rather than resting for a day and then packing her children up to join them for the next 80 years, Nature would take her, alone, and move her on to the next realm.
Most of us in our mid fifties have all read the wonderful book of Charlotte and her pig friend. I have my original copy with my young hand writing in the inside cover proudly displaying my ownership of the book I so loved. The author E.B. White is one of my favorites and we have a ram named in his honor. And then there is the memory of sitting with my elderly father one Christmas five years ago, watching the new version of the movie based on the book. We knew he was not long for life, and he did too. When Charlotte died and stoically explained her fate, it was a tear jerk moment for all of us. Just like my father, she would die and leave behind her most valuable creation - life itself in the form of her offspring. It is what it is.
So when I lifted the wooden handle today I saw that two little spiders remained, the rest had gone off, already busy with life and survival. I looked for Charlotte, but she was gone.
Our relationship was set the minute I first met her as there was a clear beginning and an eventual end. Like the leading character in the movie I watched with my father, I knew she would die, but I didn't really want her too.
But you can't rewrite Nature.