I’m not a fan of creepie-crawlies, or things with multiple legs, although I admit I can eat an embarrassing amount of crab legs; steamed, no butter. There are no poisonous spiders in western Washington, where I live, but you don’t have to be bitten to die of fright, and I tell you, it’s been close a few times.
This time of year, huge spiders with striped legs are everywhere, festooning all of outdoors, like Halloween decorations. Occasionally, I’ll misjudge and feel the horrid sensation of a web across my face or arm. Awk—was it occupied? Where is it? Is it on me?
I’ve been known to run back into the house, stripping off attire as I ran, and leap into the shower. As I dry off, relieved to be alone (I checked), the thought enters my mind...where is the spider now? In my clothes, hair, carpet? The spider, meanwhile, is outside, clinging to a leaf, catching its breath. Wow, I nearly caught me a full-size human.
A spider is okay outside. I understand they have a job to do, but in my house, it's a different matter. I cannot tolerate encroachment.
A while ago, I was in the bathroom, not at a good stopping point, so to speak, and a giant spider ran across the floor right at my bare feet. I shooed it back, but it made another pass at me. Unable to flee, I grabbed the only weapon at hand, my husband’s shaving crème. I let loose with about half the can, making a foamy mound six inches thick. As soon as I was able, I ran out, hollering for someone –anyone! – to come clean this up. Public service announcement: shaving crème is a near-miraculous tile cleaner. That area was so pristine, I had to clean the rest of the floor to match it.
Outdoors, I try to sidestep the creepies, but sometimes they’re just plain in my way, festooning my garden plants as if they have a right to be there, the size of Halloween decorations. I raised those tomatoes from a slim seed; no eight-legged critter is going to get between me and a fine Greek salad ingredient.
I admit to some grudging admiration of the webs. I can’t understand how a creature the size of a breadcrumb can spin a web bigger than a turkey platter, without reloading the web-goo that forms the strands, and never getting caught in its own sticky web.
It reminds me of crocheting. My daughter and I took a class when she was twelve. She went on to design and crochet anything that crosses her mind, her fingers blurry. Me? I never quite figured out where to put my thumbs, or how to make a simple chain stitch without knotting my finger inside a tangle of yarn.
In my garden, I pick up a weed – there’s always a weed nearby—and carefully relocate the spider, winding the web like cotton candy, quickly, before it gets any ideas about leaping on me or running up my arm. After the battle, I stop to slow my heart rate, and watch.
Now that the gasping is over, what can I learn from a spider...at a safe distance? My mother taught me, and I’ve taught my kids, that we can learn from everything and everybody, that the world is full of visual aids. Every single time, the spider shakes itself off, and immediately begins rebuilding a home.
When we are knocked down, thwarted, even rejected, our plans upheavaled, we need to move on, shake it off, rebuild. With regard to writing, be a little open-minded. Doing what you’ve always done the way you’ve always done it only gets you somewhere predictable, and where’s the fun in that? Maybe you should try a new genre, look into self-publishing, find a less hostile editor, stretch a little. Just don’t build a web; there are plenty of those already!