Observations From Isolation: Ch.3 – Golden Orbs, Pirates & Dance Parties…

Golden Orbs On Thick Strands… Pirates In The Bottleo… Dance Parties About The Loungeroom…

Two golden-orb spiders have built a huge and complex web off the side of the palms bordering the driveway. I pull in at night after work and they hang directly above the driver’s side door; I have to slip out and around the back of the truck, walk down the passenger side lest I come face to face, in the dark, with their spindly legs.

In the mornings, when I head down to the beach, or go and buy some bread, a newspaper, they’ve extended their empire and thick and sticky strings are looped around the side mirror, the radio antenna. When I back out, the big diesel engine throbbing, the strands pull and then snap and the huge web bends and flexes, its occupants jarred into quick action before web and spiders settle and I’m free and away to start the day.

There’s something intriguing about the fact they’re working together – something oddly unsettling as well, but I don’t think about it too much until I’m face to face with them again later on.

There’s a mass of smaller orbs about the garden too, they’ve proliferated in the past couple of weeks, stringing webs in the little native trees out the back, off the edge of the clothesline, across the gate into the back garden. Mostly, they’re off to the side but occasionally they need to be gently dissuaded from invading public space and so a broom handle or a fallen palm frond snaps strings and the webs fall back gently so’s you can walk past.

They’re so delicate they float on a breeze you can’t even feel.

On Tuesday just gone, darkness fallen, sometime between seven and eight o’clock, a pirate wandered into the Bottleo, a pronounced limp and a grizzled, grey beard. Surprisingly bright eyes and clear, tanned skin though – I tried to guess his age but failed; he could have been forty or seventy.

Big, black leather boots, a ratty and long black coat, brown leather tri-cornered hat on his head, fingers adorned in silver, crystals and opals and all sorts hanging around his neck. Homeless but cheerful enough. He bought a small bottle of port, paid for it in change, then leant against the counter and talked to me about whisky. As befits a pirate.

He was surprisingly articulate, well travelled. He knew his whisky. We compared favourites, we both like our single malts heavily peated. He wasn’t crazy. But he was dressed like a pirate. I saw him the following day, down in town crossing the bridge in the sunshine but still covered in black with his long coat, the bright light flashing off his ringed fingers, the bottle of port nowhere to be seen.

Claire and Addy have dance parties in the loungeroom. They plug a phone into the stereo and find something they both want to listen to. Addy quickly runs into her bedroom to find a dress that twirls and then runs back out saying she can’t find her ballet slippers. They’re usually on the floor in plain sight. The two of them hold hands and swing around the coffee table, around the couch and Papa’s old armchair which sits, faded by decades of sunlight, just inside the front door. They try out new dance moves and Addy will then run into my office to tell me they’ve got a new dance move and that I have to come out and see it.

I sit on the couch and watch them dance, Addy’s dress swirling around her waist, both of them laughing, getting sweaty from the lingering summer humidity and the exertion of it all. Eventually they both fall into a pile on the floor, laughing, legs flailing and I stretch out on the couch and laugh too. This is our isolation.