27 November 2010

Medlars in spring, and their companions

Many spiders make their home in the medlar trees. The work of the web-builders is showiest on dewy winter mornings, but here one is now.

The little flower spiders of the Thomisidae family, on the other hand, are ambush hunters who protect the medlar as they use it for their lure and lair. They are constant companions to the medlar flowers, each spider taking up a flower as its base.

Well, rot my boots! I'm not an entomologist's shed eyelash, but I let my caution down enough to not say "I think", but ignorantly state. Whoever said 'ignorant is bliss'? An idiot. I can only shuffle with embarrassment here and say that I was just feeling so superior last week, when I read in the August edition of History Today, "One can imagine the titillating movements of the whore 'Moll Medlar' (named after a suggestively-shaped pear, best eaten when rotten) as she flirts with Wat ..."

Suggestively-shaped pear! I wrote in high dudgeon to another medlar-lover, "as in a human's head being interchangeable with a durian."

The moral is to say "I don't know" more than I do, and ask for answers. Even that can produce errors. If Lucie Skeaping who wrote that otherwise scholarly, fascinating and fun article, "All Singing, All Dancing — Sexually explicit jigs were a major part of the attraction of the Elizabethan, Jacobean and Restoration", had consulted the Cambridge World History of Food, she'd be wrong'd. But who would think so, with so many experts and such a price? As things dance, Lucie Skeaping loves and is an advocate for and a performer of, another love of mine, "forgotten music", which is so complementary to medlars that I'm surprised she doesn't smell half-rotten from eating them, in the best of ways.

Sometimes the best things in life ARE free. Budak's blog, and budak's help
Thanks to the incomparable Budak (see, for instance, Budak's post,"Crap Spider") who kindly corrected my disgraceful mistaking of identities within hours, I can tell you now that these little spiders below are not flower spiders, nor are they Tom, Dick, or Henrietta Thomisid. This is a picture of a real flower spider.

I'm a flower spider (Diaea sp)

No rice pudding

See a whole smörgåsbord of spiders of different families in what I found when I opened up a mother wasp's stocked nursery, in Fresher than that from the "Fresh Food People"

But now back to this post, and
As Budak says, the spiders below are Salticids, and could I venture to say that they might be either the Opisthoncus parcedentatus or a close cousin?

Medlar flower and Jumping Spider

Later, a smooth white pillow of an egg sack filled with many verrrry small, celery-green eggs fills many a medlar's calyx. And later still, minute spiderlings emerge, and traverse their globes.
(And now, Budak, from what I shakily understand, both families make the same type of egg sacks with a top and bottom sheet that enclose light green eggs). I've seen the sacks and eggs in the calyxes with me own confused eyes, so who do you think made them, and do you think these families both live amongst the medlars?

And back to safe ground. Here in this little village, other otherwise-forgotten apple types live amongst the medlars.

Fenouillet Gris

The apples to come—were before our time, celebrated as dessert apples of great excellence. The Fenouillet Gris is an apple meant for an eater who has a nose and teeth. Small and flattened, aromatic russet, hard, crisp, not too sweet, and redolent of aniseed. The skin is my favourite part—delicious as only a russet skin can be, and not red as in other descriptions of this 1600s apple, but a colour that could be named Bruegel.


  1. methinks the 'thomisids' are rather salticids, the family that 'dances with pantomimic gestures.'

    your compatriot Keith C. McKeown has written:

    "They are without doubt the most accomplished exponents of the dance in the animal kingdom. They are spider ballet dancers. Under the stress of their love-making they posture and dance wildly before the admiring female, who in some species finally joins him in a pas de deux.... one is almost impelled to the belief that they are aware of their own beauty, and know how best to show it off to the full."

  2. Me thanks you for your thinks. You knows but you are so gracious about it. I have rewritten the whole post because of what you have generously put here. What a wonderful quote. There is no excuse for my mistake, and I just hope I haven't made more. This wealth of ignorance that I keep discovering more of in myself, does restrain me from posting many pictures that I take of ? and ? and ?