Golden Orb Weaver?
This gal showed up in my Southern California back yard this week; she’s about 2" in length. When I took the photo, she’d just finished polishing off a fly, thus the crisscross web pattern above and below her resting place are temporarily obliterated. If it’s the same species I’ve had in the yard before, she will construct at least one egg case that looks very much like a hazelnut in color, shape and size. These arachnids took 3-4 years off from the back yards in my neighborhood, but luckily they’ve returned.
San Dimas, CA
Argiope aurantia has several common names, including Golden Orb Weaver and Black and Yellow Orb Weaver. Every few years, one shows up in our tomato patch, but like you indicate, they are also sadly noticeably absent some years.