©1999 Bonnie Wren
Halloween came early to our house. In fact, every horror movie I ever saw was woven into a big blanket of spider silk last night and stretched out over my front porch.
It always happens this time of year. I stagger out the front door to get the morning paper... and plow into the mother of all webs.
The architect of my nightmare is hidden under our rain gutter, an orange ping pong ball with 8 legs that watches me in complete disgust. All she wanted was some tasty bugs. Instead, she caught a noisy, inedible woman who does a stupid dance as she rips up an entire night's worth of work.
"Ugh! Ugh! Get it off! GET IT OFF!"
I'm always more careful after that first web. The next morning I scan the area, looking for the spider. If I can't get a visual I do the perimeter sweep: holding my arms outstretched, I wave my hands up and down and then from side to side.
If no contact is made I take a step and repeat the entire process until I make it safely past the garage without engaging the enemy. (Occasionally I interrupt maneuvers in order to wave at any neighbors looking at me funny.)
Only when the area is secured is it safe to pick up the paper.
The back door is even worse: the webs crisscross the yard from one fence to the other, from the roof to the ground. If you look first, it seems like one of those laser alarm systems they use for priceless diamonds in action movies. But who looks first?
Luckily for us, the dog is the first one out to the back yard every morning and he never looks. Intent on his business, he makes his rounds of the yard, gathering up most of the webs in the process. He doesn't even grumble about it.
Then he bounces back into the house, ready for breakfast and completely covered in bug guts and other web refuse. He might spend the whole day wearing the stuff or he might rub it onto the carpet. It's just not an issue for him.
It is an issue for me. As my kids get older, it also becomes more embarrassing. Before I had children, I could just walk into one of those things and shriek and paw and the whole episode would be over. Now I have an audience.
One morning I hit the web and felt the orange ping pong ball smack right against my forehead. I was doing the spider dance and shaking my head as hard as I could when I noticed my boys observing me closely.
I managed to lower my voice an octave. "Is... is it... in my hair?"
They pointed to the over-sized spider, rolled up into a ball under the dahlias and trying as hard to forget me as I was trying to forget her.
When I saw for myself that she wasn't going to take a bite out of me, I calmed down and took charge of the situation.
"Boys," I said, "knowledge is power."
They ran when they heard this. Spiders hold no special terror in their hearts, but their mother telling them to look something up is really scary.
Luckily the subject was gross enough to hold their interest. We found our Audubon Society Guide to Insects and Spiders and started to compare mug shots with the orange ping-pong ball.
We thought we made a positive ID on an Araneus cavaticus, AKA "Charlotte," as in Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. The boys started to call any over-sized spider "Charlotte."
Then our neighbor's pest control guy told me we fingered the wrong perp and that she was really an Orb Weaver.
Whatever she is, I've taken a major step to avoid crashing into her web.
I let Hubby go out for the paper.
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©2003 Bonnie Wren. All Rights Reserved