The Mardi Gras Spider

When I found this Green Lynx spider (Peucetia viridans) lurking among the goldenrod and liatris last September, I was most struck by the combination of traditional Mardi Gras colors: purple, green, and gold.

Between a certain pandemic and the deep freeze afflicting Texas and Louisiana this year, traditional Mardi Gras celebrations have been in short supply. But this is the day: King Cakes are being shared, beads are hanging from car mirrors, and gumbo pots are simmering. Les bons temps may not be rolling, but they’re still creeping along — just like this bit of natural celebration.


Comments always are welcome.

65 thoughts on “The Mardi Gras Spider

  1. A most elegant spider! Les bon temps might not be rolling, but the fact that they are even creeping during these hard times is a cause for joy. Bring on the king cakes, beads, and gumbo. And stay warm!

    1. At least we had some sunshine today, and the birds and squirrels seemed ready to party.We didn’t get above freezing, but there was some melting going on, so roads began to clear. All things considered, it wasn’t the worst day in the world, but people without fireplaces and gas stoves are suffering.

        1. I got a hot shower and a hot dinner tonight. If the power goes again, I’ll just go to bed. The biggest frustration is that the cell towers are down. The Cell Nazi says, “No internet for you!” (Don’t you miss Seinfeld?)

  2. The spider and plant make a wonderful Mardi Gras display. I had forgotten that today was Fat Tuesday until I saw your post, but it makes perfect sense. In our typical “good-timing” fashion, last night we finished the last of the gumbo I made. But it made a good, warming dinner on a cold, snowy evening.

    I hope you’re holding up well and have power. We’re doing fine, with 4 inches of snow and biting cold but we’ve kept power through it all (I say as I knock on every wood surface I can reach.)

    1. I was lucky until this morning, but at least I got to make coffee before the power went off. It’s been off and on all day, but it’s on now, so there will be a hot meal and a hot shower — then, we’ll see. At least we seem to be done with temperatures in the teens and twenties. Freezing’s no fun, but it doesn’t cool a place down quite as fast.

      It seems odd not to be celebrating Mardi Gras in some way; it is, after all, a day designed for the community. But, at least the pandemic and the arctic blast showed up at the same time. Maybe next year we’ll be free to let those good times really roll.

    1. I’m just glad I remembered the spider. With all that’s been happening, I nearly missed the day. Not everything is time-sensitive, but a Mardi Gras post surely is.

  3. I’ve seen posts that people in New Orleans are decorating their houses like Mardi Gras floats this year. when I was growing up my parents had good friends who lived in New Orleans and we would sometimes go visit during that time. he was an artist and had his studio down in the Quarter across the street from Pat O’Briens so we had a place to rest, observe, and most importantly, a bathroom. this was back when they still had night parades with flamboues in the Quarter and they threw real glass beads from the old Czechoslovakia.

    1. Galveston was going to follow NOLA’s lead and decorate ‘house floats’ this year, too, and I was planning to go down and see what they’d done. The weather put an end to that, which is really a shame. Even if I’d wanted to try to get down there, the Causeway was closed for a day or so, and the rest of the time the weather was just flat nasty. Best laid plans, and all that. At least I had my spider to mark the day!

  4. I love your spectacular Mardi Gras spider–those colors are amazing. So many parts of the country, including Texas, are being slammed by winter storms, but we have been spared in Northern Virginia. We had a pickup of Lenten bags at my church’s parking lot last Sunday that include devotionals for Lent and ashes for our virtual Ash Wednesday service. The bag also included three strings of colorful beads that I will happily wear during several Zoom meetings later today. We should also celebrate Mardi Gras however we can. Stay safe and warm.

    1. It’s interesting how certain color schemes become so deeply embedded in our consciousness. Red and green are Christmas, of course, and certain pastels always say “Easter” to me. Now, after so many years in Texas and Louisiana, green, gold, and purple invariably bring Mardi Gras to mind — even if the colors involve a spider and some flowers.

      1. People have tried to superimpose various meanings on them, but for most people, they don’t ‘mean’ anything particular, even though they have a history. You can read about that here. During the parades, the beads that are thrown are every color: pink, lavender, pearl, blue as well as purple, gold, and green. The beads people wear to parties are every color, too, although anything formally associated with celebrations will be green, gold, and purple.

        1. Right. And some people say they stand for Margaritas, Bloody Marys, and Hurricanes. In short, they “mean” whatever people decide they mean. Most of us don’t care.

        2. Oh I see … complete confusion at my end. I thought the beads were something to do with Lent and/or Ash Wednesday due to them being included in your Lenten bag. I noticed the Carnival ends on ‘Fat Tuesday’ just before Ash Wednesday. Thanks for the info! [All new to me as I know little about Lent, Ash Wednesday or Mardi Gras. Easter was always important but the church I grew up in wasn’t traditional and liturgy isn’t part of what I grew up with.]

          1. Your confusion makes sense, then, because the celebrations do get a bit mushed up. In my tradition, there was no Mardi Gras, but we celebrated “Fat Tuesday” with a pancake supper at the church. Fat Tuesday got its name because it was the day when the last of the fats and such were to be used up before the discipline and fasting of Lent. Of course, the pancake supper made a great fund-raiser for the youth groups, too!

          2. Sorry for any confusion, Liz. A lot of this is new to me, because I grew up in a Baptist church in which Lent is not the kind of somber season that it is for the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches.

            1. I enjoy learning about these practices and their meanings, and I had no idea Mardi Gras led straight into Lent. Always learning new things from blogging and twittering ;)

    1. They can be really hard to spot, particularly since they’re hunters. They don’t weave webs; they lurk in and around flowers, waiting to capture their prey. They often choose green plants, and that aids them camouflage, and they’ll often sit there for long periods of time. On the other hand, they’re very aware of their surroundings, and trying to get a photo of one can be hard. I’ve chased more than a few around and around a stem.

  5. Lovely photo, Linda — Happy Mardi Gras to you! So many traditions have been put on hold — I do hope the parades and good times return one day. By the way, I noticed King Cakes in one of our groceries up here — who’d have thought??

    1. And Bluebell creameries has come out with a Mardi Gras King Cake ice cream. I’d be willing to try it, but not buy it — I really prefer something like vanilla bean or cinnamon. But it’s a nice way to celebrate the season, especially since so many of the traditional customs had to be put on hold this year.

    1. Isn’t it, though? It’s far more festive than our area of the country right now. There are a lot of people becoming very irritated with those controlling the power grid. Thirty-six hours in sub-freezing weather is going to require a lot of drinks to keep the bon temps roulezing!

    1. It is awful. I’ve not had it as bad as many people — millions of people, as a matter of fact. They’ve just announced they’re cutting more people off from their electricity, so I’m trying to do as much as I can, as quickly as I can, before it goes off again. The worst part is that Verizon is wonky, too, so I can’t connect via my ipad if I lose wireless. Ah, these first world problems. The pretty spider doesn’t worry about such things!

  6. I was not familiar with Mardi Gras colours, but I am bowled over by the spider. What a gorgeous creature! I actually saw a small spider on the snow a couple of days ago. In February,when the sun is higher and brings more warmth, many little microclimates are created and I suspect that the spider had been under leaves or other protective cover that had warmed sufficiently for an early spring stroll!

    1. These are among my favorites spiders. This past year, I saw them more frequently than ever before, and it always was a pleasure. It’s amazing that you found one on the snow. I wouldn’t have imagined that, but it makes sense that it might have been warmed enough to venture out. There are a lot of snakes that are coming out here now — at least, they were until the past week or so, when we plunged well below freezing. These creatures are better equipped to surivive than we imagine. Your spider’s probably doing better than many urban dwellers in my area right now.

  7. I have yet to find a lynx spider but keep hoping–it’s very high on my arachnophile wish list. They do live here, but they have so far eluded me. Yours is just spectacular. One of these days . . .

    1. Gary, I can’t believe you’ve not seen one. They’re so common here, I guess I’ve just assumed they were common everywhere. We certainly have had a good year for them, but I was especially pleased to find this one lurking in such an attractive environment.

    1. It was fun to find, and even more fun to share it on a day it fits so well. I’ll be glad when our winter is over, and I can begin to find treasures like this again.

  8. The spider nestling amongst the flowers did not look all that bothered about the cold till I read the photo was taken in September.
    Oddly, both Finland and The Netherlands had good winters too. Finally there even was ice skating on the Amsterdam canals. A wonderful sight!
    When I say good winters ‘too’, I believe this Texas winter is very nasty and with power falling out, it must be hard.
    Lovely spider though.

    1. That’s right! I’ve been hanging on to this September photo just for Mardi Gras, through all those months. It was fun to pull it out today, and nice to see the nice colors: both the spider and the flowers.

      There certainly have been some beautiful winter scenes around Texas, and there have been some who were able to do sledding and skating. We didn’t have that much snow here on the coast. We only got enough ice to make the roads treacherous, and not enough snow to make things pretty, as they were here, up in Llano County.

      But cold? Oh, my goodness. When I was without heat, my place only got down to 58 before it came back on, but so many people — some with babies and pets, or elderly — have been without for days now, and are living in freezing temperatures. It’s just unforgivable — and the result of human decision making as much as natural causes. Once it’s over, we’ll see if anyone’s smart enough to make some different decisions.

    1. I wish I could have captured some of the details of the spider more clearly, but there’s so much going on around it that it was hard to separate it from the flowers. Of course, from the spider’s perspective, that’s exactly the point — the better it hides, the better it eats.

  9. A very beautiful spider – and a great camouflage colour! Hope your power problems are sorted soon. It must be dreadful for those who’ve been without it for days, especially those who are vulnerable.

    1. Now that some pipes are beginning to thaw, we’re headed to Disaster: the Sequel. There’s nothing like broken water pipes to turn a home into a major mess. Our water pressure’s down, but I have plenty of utility water and drinking water stored if we get a boil water notice.

      I’ve seen these spiders in different shades of green. I don’t know if that’s a natural variation, or if they have the ability to alter their color slightly to better match the plants. I should do a little more poking around and see if I can find the answer. This one is a lovely color, and fits right in with its environment.

    1. This has been something, hasn’t it? I did hear some entymologist talking about how lethal the cold will be to the mosquitoes. He said it could be seven-nine months of freedom from the beasties. Is it worth it? I’m thinking about that…

  10. At this stage of the game, I don’t care if they roll, rock, or stand on their heads and whistle Dixie. I just want there to be good times.

    1. When I saw the graphic of every single county in the state under a winter weather warning, I had a premonition of looming disaster. Usually, a hurricane or drought or tornado affects only part of the state. We’re all sharing in the misery this time. As cold as it’s been here, I wouldn’t want your freezing fog and below zero temps. At least you’re going to have sun and relative warmth by the weekend. I hope you’re thawed out enough to whistle a little!

  11. That spider is very interesting, Linda. I remember finding a similar one on a plant last summer. As for Mardi Gras, I love the way some of the folks in NOLA have been decorating their homes to look like floats. The human spirit lives on, regardless. –Curt

    1. They’re really cool spiders. They camouflage well, but they’re large enough that, once you spot one, there are chances for some neat photos. The house floats are a great response. It’s really too bad the weather was so awful, and kept people from enjoying them. In Galveston, the plan was to have the “parade” on Saturday night, with homeowners tossing beads from their front porches. I sure do hope we can have the real thing next year.

      1. I did a post and featured one as well. It had blended in so well on a flower, I almost didn’t see it. As I recall, the abdomen was similar to your spider’s.
        I love all the creativity that the Pandemic has encouraged, but like you, and 99% of the rest of our population, I am eager to get back to normalcy. I think there is a fair chance of getting beyond the pandemic. (Peggy and I get our second shot on Sunday.) I hate to think about it if we don’t.
        All bets are off on the weather in this era of global warming. Maybe if another winter storm hits Texas like this one, it would be smart to join Ted in Cancun. :) –Curt

  12. A natural celebration indeed. You’ve got a great mix of colors here, though I confess I had no idea they’re a Mardi Gras tradition. The green lynx is among our most photogenic spiders and has the added advantage of often turning up.

  13. Being a bit of an introvert, I find your celebratory Lynx Spider more to my liking than the more traditional goings on for Mardi Gras. The closest I ever got to Mardi Gras was when visiting a competitor furniture store near Boston where they handed out beads as you entered the door and had their celebration. Here’s a YT video of one such. Free popcorn for all as well. I guess it made furniture buying fun but was hardly comparable to the real thing. They no longer do this. Sadly Mardi Gras isn’t the same this year but given the New Orleans spirit I am sure it will be back big time next year.

    1. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed The Blues Brothers. I was going to watch it again, but when I finally found it on Amazon, I decided it wasn’t worth $3.99 or a Showtime subscription. Amazon and Netflix are enough; I’m not about to subscribe to a dozen different streaming services. On thing I have done is buy DVDs of a few favorite films or tv programs. That way, when one service or another decides they’re no longer going to be available, I’ll have them.

      The thought of Boston celebrating Mardi Gras seems strange to me, but I guess we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, so there’s that. I’d never go to NOLA’s celebration; even Galveston’s is a bit much for me. Being in overcrowded streets with a bunch of drunks isn’t my idea of a good time. Now, the rural Louisiana celebrations? I’m all in favor, and hope to attend another one. They’re steeped in tradition, and besides — who doesn’t like chasing chickens around?

      1. I remember that post and our exchange. In revisiting it I noticed that back then you replied with italics.
        I do the same with DVDs. The Blues Brothers is also a favorite…the first. Didn’t care for the second with the replacement Jake. I have the entire Star Wars collection, much of which I haven’t watched yet and Mary Beth has no interest. Same with the Lord of the Rings and The hobbit. We purchased a nice collection of Alec Guinness comedies and have quite a few others…including several of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads festivals. Netflix came free with our cable subscription but we have yet to make use of it. We both are having a hard time sitting still for very long these days. Football has been about the only thing I can sit for until completion…if I don’t fall asleep.

        1. I can’t remember now why I started using italics for replies. I think I took that route because my first theme (that’s not even available now) didn’t provide for the kind of threading or clear separation of comments we have today. When terminal boredom sets in, I should go back and standardize all that. (Don’t hold your breath.)

          I’ve got some of the Crossroads DVDs, too. I had to subscribe to Netflix to get NCIS free, but between that and the Amazon Prime videos, I’m good. I don’t do much watching at all, although I will admit I’m pleased that Seinfeld will be moving from Hulu to Netflix in June. That’s perfect late-night, I have to get this house picked up before bed, entertainment.

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