Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Swattable Fear

There was a spider crawling along my ceiling wearing a backpack and panniers, and I took a photo of her from the floor so I could zoom in and find out who she was. If I'd been a squeamish sort I could probably have taken a picture of her through the window from the sidewalk out front. She was sturdy, is what I'm saying. A little on the hairy side, also. And she had a pretty good strut to her. My picture came out fuzzy on account of her struttiness but I got enough to determine she was a good old jumping spider. I don't know where she is now.

It occurs to me that there are a lot of people who would want to keep tabs on such a spider, at the least, if they couldn't keep a rolled-up newspaper or a can of napalm on her. There are people of my own acquaintance who would be rooted to the spot pointing until an assassin showed up drawn by the hyperventilating. If a spider like my hairy friend later turned up missing, these people would have to put their house on the market to get any sleep.

It's pretty clear I'm not one of the people so afflicted. Right at the moment--and we're in the season--there are cobwebs in the corners of all my windows. I can't bear to vacuum them up because somebody's still using them, I think, and if I'd built myself a house and someone knocked it down, I'd be upset, especially if I had to reconstruct a whole new one out of my own butt. Also, I'm lazy, and my mom's not coming over.

My poor mom. She was very tidy. She lived with a man I'm also related to who liked bringing things home to photograph. Your snakes, your lizards, what have you. Sometimes they got away. Sometimes they got away in the house. Mom was an outwardly calm person, but chronic repressed heebie-jeebies probably took a toll on her. Dad took a lot of pictures of spiders although he didn't bring them home for the purpose. Legend had it he was scared of spiders as a child and made a point of getting to know them in order to get over it. That was probably an apocryphal story but we all need heroes.

Anyway I'm not worried about my missing spider at all. I base this on finding them interesting and having not been harassed by any. There are probably a hundred big spiders in this house and I've been bitten maybe four times, ever. The bites are always on my fanny. I assume I roll over them in my sleep and you can't really blame a small critter for objecting when substantially sat upon. I certainly don't think spiders are making a point of being assholes.

What we're afraid of usually doesn't make much sense. We're afraid to fly but we'll tailgate at sixty miles an hour while checking our phones. We're afraid of anyone who isn't in our own tribe, just in case. Some of us are being instructed to be afraid of liberals now, possibly the least threatening, least organized, most hapless class of nice people on earth.

But the thought that we are looking at a mass extinction in another twenty or thirty years? And an unsurvivable climate in another fifty? Too big to grasp. Doesn't compute. If we can't solve it with a fly swatter or an AR-15 assault rifle, it might as well not exist.

55 comments:

  1. I'd like to have a intelligent conversation on this, but all I've got is "oh! shit!"
    That, and spiders.

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    1. That's my reaction to about a third of what I read, so let's go ahead and call it intelligent.

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    2. Oh good. I can feel (a little bit) intelligent this morning. Because oh shit is my response too.

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    3. Of course, your-all's spiders are probably a foot long and have pouches.

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    4. I think you're confusing them with Drop Bears!

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  2. I'm not afraid of spiders either, I just prefer them to stay outside where I'm sure there's a better food supply for them.
    There's not much at all that I'm scared of, nothing that immediately comes to mind anyway.

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    1. I'm sorry to report that from what I've read, indoor spiders do not thrive outdoors. They're different sorts, or something. Or maybe that's just the House Spider. My jumping spider would probably do okay.

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  3. I love spiders. We've made a deal with them: they have the use of the ceiling and walls, and we get the floor. Neither species seems to bother the other. As a bonus, any truly pesky bugs are quickly consumed by the spiders as an entree. I always enjoy the late summer stripey-legged spiders that build webs over the outside of our windows. This summer, we watched a large one over our livingroom window actually rub raindrops from her web over her body with her forelegs. Who knew spiders bathed? I watched her as she cut detritus like leaves and pine needles out of her web and sewed it right back up. I guess you can say that I loved and admired this spider, and it's sad that they have such brief life spans. But I guess we all do now.

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    1. Wow! A bath! We sometimes have a window spider (outside) I can watch. I haven't seen that yet but I'm going to look for it.

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    2. Yep. And they clean their faces after eating.(at least Huntsman spiders do)

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  4. My granddaughter has shamed me enough that I now no longer kill spiders, but something in me sure wants to.

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    1. That is a wonderful statement altogether.

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  5. I have nothing clever to say - since there is no "Like" button, I'll just use this comment to express my enjoyment in reading this.

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    1. I don't know how to institute a Like button here but I think I'd rather make y'all work. You're so entertaining.

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  6. I love spiders, my housepets, they demand so little and give so much, like killing every other flying bug within reach. Also they are creative, I get knitting ideas all the time from them. I do admire how they kill their baby daddies after mating. And if they're hungry, eat them or store them for later. Humans take note.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. That comment took a turn, didn't it?

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    2. Whoa, there's pulling the wool over someone's eyes and then there's knitting with extreme prejudice. Eep!

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    3. Has "knitting with extreme prejudice" ever been said before?

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    4. Wisewebwoman-can I adopt you as tribe? I LOVE your take on spiders! Not that I'd kill and eat my husband, but some men....

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  7. I think jumping spiders are particularly intelligent. They'll spin around when you approach them and all those eyes immediately begin to look you up and down to assess you. "Charlotte's Web" is one of my all time favorite children's books. Even now I get weepy at the end when Charlotte dies alone. However, living in Texas as I do, I draw the line at scorpions. One fell from the ceiling onto my pillow at night once. The stuff of nightmares.

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    1. I imagine my lack of fear of spiders has something to do with the fact that I haven't really been exposed to your more heroic or aggressive arachnids. Are scorpions arachnids or lobsters? I'm kidding, probably.

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  8. Nice jumper! You're almost too late, but not quite, to join us in Arachtober. https://www.flickr.com/groups/arachtober/

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    1. Hey, I think I remember you mentioning that last year! No?

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    2. You could have subbed for me this year...I was away for half and then had a laptop malfunction.Which sound a little kinky...

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  9. It took me 40 years to stop screaming every time I saw any spider. It took all that time to figure out I wasn't afraid of them rather always startled when I came upon one, especially when it suddenly showed up in front of my face as it spun a long line down to see how things were going below. Mosquitoes give fair warning but I'd rather have my spiders, thank you very much.

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    1. I'm easily startled but that mostly happens with snakes. We have precious few snakes around here but I do remember once stepping solidly into the middle of a hatch of baby garter snakes and they all went squiggling out every direction. I thought the ground had dissolved or something.

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  10. Spider, spider, on the wall
    Ain't you got no sense at all?
    Can't you see the wall's been plastered?
    Get off the wall you dirty...spider!

    As remembered from childhood. I don't think many walls are plastered anymore.

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    1. No. Are you? ;)

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    2. Now I'm thinking of "spider" rhymes. There was one. it ended with "soak it in cider," sort of. Never mind. That one was naughty.

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  11. OMG! I am clutching my poor irregularly beating heart!

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  12. My 89-year-old mother still talks about the garden orb spider that built a gorgeous web on my wood stove. She stayed several weeks until I had to light the fire. However spiders are not allowed AT ALL to touch me. They are picked up with a tissue and I dash to the door screeching like Pee Wee Herman when he had to rescue the snakes from the burning pet store.

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    1. I've had one of these "bug catchers" for years: https://goo.gl/images/YGogCt I find it very effective, and there is very little chance of hurting the bug.

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  13. At our first house, a jumping spider made a web that spanned the distance from our house to the neighbors'. Just under 12 feet. It was beautiful except for the hairy freaking spider. I'm gonna be twitching all evening now.

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    1. I watched one make a really long starting line the other day! There was a lot of art to it.

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  14. Ah, so SO true. What would it take to get people to be as scared of climate change as they are of other things?

    When the weather is warm enough around (Canada's) Thanksgiving in early October, I de-spider the house because my MIL is quite phobic about them. It takes awhile to get them all transported to the great outdoors. A part of me knows they'll die when it gets cold but the other part of me hates killing them so I tell myself I'm at least giving them a few more weeks of life. I will have to repeat the process for Christmas, but then I'll put them in the garage, where they will probably starve to death - eeep. There's really no good answer when you have a lovely MIL with issues.

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    1. No, I agree: you need to despider your house or get a later Thanksgiving.

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  15. I love that I read that we're almost always within 5 feet of a spider. Kind of makes it normal or comforting. Or scary, depending on your bent.

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    1. Gosh, I hope that's true! I suspect it's an extrapolation of the number of spiders in the world spread evenly over the topography.

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  16. Incey-Wincey Spider, climbing up the spout
    Was seen by an arachnaphobe who vowed to rub 'im out.
    He grabbed a can of fly spray and ssprayed it in the air
    drenching poor old Incey who retreated to his lair.
    And when the mist of Mortein had drifted from the air
    Incey's mutant offspring were crawling everywhere.

    You can use this if you want, but I'd like credit.

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  17. NY Times had an article in yesterday's science section on Consider the Beauty of Spiders. It had videos of the jumping spider and how they monitored its brain waves, and one of a spider that spins a straight web strand which gets caught in the wind so they travel for miles, and one of a spider in the desert that cartwheels. Pretty cool.

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    1. I read (okay, I read it in last year's spider post right here) that baby spiders stick their heinies in the air and any random breeze tugs silk out of them, and when it gets long enough or breezy enough it lifts them up and carries them away. I imagined that the silk-tugging probably felt kind of nice.

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  18. I'm an arachnophobe (sp) but treasure them anyway; and this fall I'm very distressed to not have seen a single gorgeous garden spider web, which normally would be draping the shrubbery here in southern Oregon. Because of the smoke we had all summer? Whatever, it's depressing.

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    1. That is depressing. You guys had it bad. I heard we did but although we had smoky days, I can't remember any in which I actually smelled the smoke (though it was visible).

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  19. You are so funny and I really look forward to your posts. Jenny

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  20. In our culture (Tuscarora, one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee, aka Iroquois) it's believed that the souls of our ancestors may visit in the form of a spider, so one never kills a spider found in the house. Mother always caught even the poisonous black widows and carried them outside. When I was about 10-11 we moved to Sherman Texas. Dad rented a beautiful stone house, with a magnificent fireplace that hadn't been lived in since its owner's death some years back. It was almost 100 years old. Mother flew in and started cleaning and the spirits started coming out to visit. By noon she had carried over 100 black widow spiders out of the house and put them in the adjoining field, where a creek and trees formed a great place for a thousand spider. She took our still-taped-up boxes to the end of the driveway and when Dad arrived home for lunch she told him in a firm voice that *this* house was not for her. Find another place us to live or take us home to Oklahoma, where an occasional ancestor dropped in but they didn't run you down!

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  21. We never kill spiders. Husband found a BIG one under our bed at our cabin and came running out with it under a glass with a piece of cardboard to let it go free. If it hadn't been under the bed he wouldn't have even bothered to remove it at all. I never bother the webs either. You are so right about fear, though. I personally am very afraid of the extinction, climate change and the possible rubbing out of life on this planet, but as you say, nobody can fathom it so they go ahead fiddling while Rome not only burns but turns into a wasteland.

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