If y'all don't mind, I'm probably going to throw some potential book excepts your way. Please, if you have any criticisms, share! Positive or negative. I've never tried to do anything like this before and I'll need all the help I can get. Thanks!
One thing that doesn’t get too much play in romanticized versions of country life is the sheer volume of spiders. Arachnids. Eight legged demon creatures from my worst nightmares. Hanging out on my front porch, like hey, wanna catch a fly? No I do not, you evil demon creatures from hell! Go back to where the devil spawned you from! Have you guessed that I’m arachnophobic?
There was a time when I was truly afraid of anything that even resembled a spider. It could be as small as a seed with six legs and two suspicious antennae, and I would reel in horror. But I have gotten better. I let myself get closer to the small ones. I even let some of them live. And the bigger ones, well, you’ve heard of high ropes courses? People with a fear of heights can go into the woods where they have these lovely rope bridges connecting trees and a crowd of supporters beneath calling up with words of courage and support. “You’re doing it!” “You’re so brave!” “Almost there!” Being here was having my own arachnophobic intensive workshop that never ends. Except, I have no team calling to me with words of encouragement. I could really use one of those!
No, I think it’s more like this: moving out to the country by myself is like going to a one woman AA convention and being my own sponsor. AA standing for Arachnapobics Anonymous of course. Lots of coffee, and no good substitute to stand in for my real desire… A spider free life.
“Mom,” my son shouts. “Come quick! There’s a spider on the wall.” “Oh honey, it’s just a little bug looking for food. Let it be.” Then I turn a corner and find a large, black, eight legged, hairy monster with a spotted butt the size my big toe, owning that wall like he was paying the mortgage. “Honey, grab me my shoe. Better yet, grab me the frying pan!” Oh G-d, let that thing die quickly and not fall on the carpet and run towards me! I actually played the scenario in my head of what I would do if I found it on one of my children. Shamefully, I fear I would casually say, “Gee look, there’s a spider on your shoulder.” And then quickly walk out of the room and hope that in their flailing they manage to get rid of it. Maybe, in a moment of adrenaline infused heroics I could lift a car to save my baby's life. But for the life of me I cannot imagine flicking a spider off my children with my bare hands.
More recently the big butted black beauties have moved on and been replaced with a new kind of monster. The gardner spider. Sounds so quaint. The Gardner Spider, lives next door to Caterpillar and every day at high noon they gather behind the potting shed for tea with Ladybug. Oh no. Not this guy. He is huge. He is bigger than my thumb. His legs are long and black and pointy. His body is thick, yellow patterned and shiny. It looks as though poisonous venom should be dripping off his fangs. No joke, this spider scares the shit out of me. We have two living in the bushes next to our front porch.
I have learned to tolerate spiders under two conditions. 1. I know where they are. 2. I know they are not moving. A spider sitting in the middle of its web is not leaving that spot anytime soon. A spider on my wall can be anywhere in thirty seconds. I do not like that. So the spiders in my bushes are allowed to live. Every morning I wake up they are there. When I go to sleep, they are still there. Fine.
However, my husband and darling son have recently told me that there are many more of these gardner spiders, not sipping tea behind the shed, but living amongst our tall grasses. I vowed that from now on I will no longer leave the path. Ever. Except that today those two discovered a mulberry tree in our yard that I just had to see. I’m a sucker for edible nature. So through the grass we trekked and I stared down every blade of grass, lest it be hiding one of these monsters just waiting for the chance to jump on my leg.
I made it to the tree totally safe. But on the way back I saw one. There, up ahead. Hoho I’ve got you now! There isno way I’m getting anywhere near you! And your chance to catch a ride on this lady is gone forever. Ha! But in the next moment I watched in horror as my son WALKED RIGHT THROUGH ITS WEB! I screamed and grabbed onto my husband (I couldn’t tell you why exactly). This was scandalous in itself, as I’m a niddah.
“What?” Both my husband and son wanted to know. “Nothing.” I said hoping to G-d that at that moment the spider wasn’t working its way up my son’s leg to a more vulnerable, skin-bared area. “Mommy, why’d you yell?” “Nothing honey, it’s nothing. Really.” My son also happens to be afraid of spiders and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that a monster was, at this moment, getting ready to crawl to his neck and plant her eggs in his ear where they would hatch in a month and surround him in his bed one night. But then I saw that the spider had recovered from its broken web by grabbing onto a blade of grass and never touched my son. In fact, I believe now that the spider didn’t even want to torture an obvious arachnophobe purely with its presence, but instead was a bit afraid of the passing giant with the power to destroy its web. Huh.
And as I learn more about spiders (and all the good they do with pest control, yada, yada, yada), I learn more about myself, too. Like I really am a chicken shit mom who would rather let her child deal with an eight legged beast from the underworld, than bravely flick the spider away and save him from years of therapy. Live and learn. And now I begin to wonder: In that moment of adrenaline powered heroics, before I lift the car to save my child, would I check where I put my hands to make sure there aren’t any spiders under there first?
2. 2. Watching thunder storms roll in (They really do roll!)
3. 3. Butterflies (To counteract all the spiders spinning webs in my brain right now)