ONE of the great pleasures of this silly season is the lush green growth all around the house.
This time last year, at the height of drought and bushfire, I didn't bother with a vegie garden out the back or a set of annuals out the front. I used fake flowers in a hanging basket in lieu of the usual trailing petunias.
This year, the world is buzzing with life; I can just about hear the tomatoes growing. With it, an abundance of insects, all having a good old chomp. I don't mind too much, because I'm happy for it to be a good season for everyone.
OTHER RECENT ECO NEWS COLUMNS:
With Mum staying, I have someone to gently sweep cobwebs from the back windows. She uses a life-preserving technique, allowing spiders to run on to her broom, to be shaken off a little further from the house.
She was very excited to find one colourful little arachnid. A quick Google supplied the name: the Christmas or jewel spider, Austracantha minax.
The spider was carefully released on a pile of old convict bricks, so it could hide and recuperate.
When I went to hang out some washing, I discovered a web joining the clothesline to the back fence. On closer inspection, it was another little Christmas spider.
I encouraged her on to a peg, from which she was also conveyed to the brick pile.
Christmas spiders spin webs in the form of a dense spiral around a central ring and, interestingly, they deliberately make their webs visible, possibly to prevent larger animals walking into them.
The females are to be found in the centre of the webs, heads down, while the males hang out in nearby vegetation.
On a trip to the auto shop to buy a Christmas present for the car, I noticed a big tub of cleaning detergent with the delightful name Bugger Off.
Reading the label, I discovered the liquid is specifically designed to clean dead insects off the front of cars.
I remember, as a child, how the insects would be plastered over the radiator and windscreen of the family car after just about any long trip.
These days, you can drive for miles and barely get a spattering. We just don't have as many insects as we did.
But we do have our colourful little Christmas spider. Long may she live!