Wednesday, October 01, 2003

freeing the spiders

Late in the afternoon, Alex and I left for Lehavim to free the spiders. These spiders (Stegodyphus lineatus) had been loyally working for Alex and his experiments for the better part of a year, and it was time they deserved their freedom. They did not have a bad life, in fact they had a better life than in the wild. All that was demanded of them was their measurements, and all they had to do was sit and eat food that came freely into their cages, a sure supply towards which the entire lab devoted energy. Not like in nature where every morsel of meal is hard fought over under the watchful eyes of various predators. But there is freedom outside, even if it is a hard life. We took the boxes from the car and selected suitable bushes where a few individuals might survive and start new generations. We were at the top of a hill that is also used by the Israeli army for training young soldiers, and we kept encountering small groups of soldiers trudging grudgingly in the heat. Sometimes they'd make vague buzzing sounds- sounds of the walkie-talkies -and other times, they would silently pass, with only an odd comment or two between them. No one seemed puzzled by the incongruity of two people standing and releasing spiders, but maybe they were forbidden to talk to non-uniformed people or even ordered to mind their own business. Maybe they just didn't care. We had many spiders to release, so it took some time. Slowly the bushes were dotted with the webs of the spiders, small irregular dirty cotton candy structures suddenly blossoming. Go spiders, we cried, you're free now. Go forth and multiply. But the spiders didn't seem overjoyed, they huddled in their shelters, wondering at this latest disturbance, wondering what to do with the freedom we had granted them.