Spider Webs and Memories

There is a large spider in the window beside my front door. She has constructed a greatly intricate web across the window pane just to the left of the door. Needless to say, when I’ve had to go outside, I’ve either used the back door, or stepped well to the right side of the front door, giving the spider a large berth.

I have a very rational fear of spiders. Ever since I was told that “the average human swallows three spiders in their sleep every year,” I’ve been afraid of them.* The meme’s you see on social media outlets regarding a fear of spiders were written about me. I actually HAVE done 30 minutes of aerobic exercise in two minutes after stepping into a spider’s web, and the thought of using a flame thrower to destroy a spider on the living room floor originated with me.

In the interest of avoiding an insurance claim, an exterminator visits my home every month. Every month! He sprays every crevice and cranny on every floor. The first time he stopped by, he saw a large spider, similar to the one I have this year, on the back porch and assured me that he would get rid of it, too. I stopped him! That spider would remain there until the cold winter would end his life naturally.

When my children were young, I read aloud to them the delightful children’s book “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White. It was the first of many that we would read together. While we only read it once, it would affect many things in our lives, including how we deal with spiders that create such detailed webs where we can safely enjoy their beauty.

Through many years, my sons and I have admired the handiwork of these creatures. We’ve watched moths, flies, and gnats land perilously in the webs, only to be surrounded quickly with more webbing so that the spider could end their life painlessly and gain nourishment from the insects. We’ve watched them spinning the web with perfectly straight lines, magically spaced with the exact same distance between each row. We’ve stood for hours in the doorway, safely inside, watching these mysterious arachnids work to create a web. It was a joy to get up in the morning and see it dripping with dew drops in the sunlight. Beautiful!

No, the spiders outside of my home live completely free from human harm. Unlike their indoor neighbors, they have no reason to fear my wrath, or even a heavy shoe, machete, gun, flame thrower, or exterminator. They live in peace.

My sons no longer live at my home. Both are serving our nation in faraway places. I wonder if, somehow, they might find a spider, at a safe distance, and watch her skillfully work to construct a web just as I watched the one here.

Sometimes it’s the little things that can evoke such memories. Little things – like spiders.

 

~Temerity Dowell

 

*For the record, the average human does NOT swallow three spiders while sleeping. Not every year, not ever! This is a lie! A myth!!

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