Spiders. So many of them in the world! They scurry fast and if they're big, I must admit they scare the daylights out of me. In the fall, just before winter, they sense the need to claim warmth and shelter, and living close to the earth as we do here just off the one-lane road, we obviously must clamp down on the number of boarders we can take in during the upcoming cold weather. So, yes, if truth be told I annihilate them, but only when they come inside. They hide in the wood we bring in, they zip under the doormats, build homes in the corners of the windows, and even emerge in early fall through the drainpipes into sinks. I should be ashamed of my housekeeping, right?
Well, I'm not. It's one of the little things one accepts as being quite natural out here JOTOLR. As much as (humanly) possible I avoid using insect sprays in the belief that I would be asphyxiating and poisoning MM and me just as much as the potential target. Even for the dratted flies in the summer, I use the old remedy: flypaper. Yes they're ugly (changing them frequently avoids that) but it's environmentally friendly, easy to dispose of, and there are better versions of that product today than in the past.) And I have fly swatters tucked about the house for corporal flogging when needed on flies, beetles and spiders, too.
On the other hand, I am a devotee of the spiders' WEBS. That is to say, I admire them for their highly engineered and wondrous beauty. The tensile strength of spider silk is actually greater than the same weight of steel and has much greater elasticity. Its microstructure is under investigation for possible applications in industry, including bullet-proof vests and artifical tendons. About 30,000 species of spiders have been named so far, representing what is believed to be about one fourth of the total.
I love to photograph spider webs. They always present such a challenge to a photographer as the tiniest of breezes sets the structure in motion and it's difficult to get a photo that is properly in focus.
As gardeners, we love and need spiders. They often live in the soil and pop out unexpectedly, but they are our companions, helping us to grow our own food, since their diet is comprised of many pests we seek to eradicate. As wood-gatherers, as housekeepers, out here in the country, living side by side with animals of all kinds, one learns to cultivate an attitude toward living things in general, other than "bugs" or "germs" that need to be doused with Raid or Lysol. There's no ability to be selective in what you kill when you broadcast sprays.
We lived in Australia back in the early 1970's near now-famous Cairns (which had not yet been "discovered") The little house we bought had a version of "outdoor" plumbing. The commode had modern, flush-type plumbing. It was just a little "outside" house. It even had a regular door knob with a lock on it. The first time I went out to use the facilities, I shut the door, sat down, and there, on the back of the door, looking at me, was the biggest dad-gummed spider I'd ever seen. That sucker was at least five inches across. I just know the people in Jakarta heard my scream. MM came flying out, burst through the door, took one look and headed back out. "Just sit still!" he hollered. "I'm getting a shovel to kill it!" And kill it he did. But you know the sad part of the story? We shouldn't have killed the spider. Turned out (we learned from the neighbors) the spider was not only harmless to humans, but the old (now my age!) couple from whom we bought the house, had cultivated those spiders for years, as semi-pets that kept the outside toilet free of other less-desirable insects. Those spiders were built-in environmentally friendly insecticides. And we (dumbos) blew this effective system to smithereens.
Spiders are Arachnids. The name derives from Greek mythology. Arachne was a peasant girl who became an expert spinner and weaver of cloth. (I am a handspinner, too, but not as good as either Arachne or spiders.) No human could spin or weave as well as Arachne. She became famous throughout Greece. But she also became arrogant, boasting that she was better even than Athena, goddess of wisdom who invented spinning and weaving. So Athena took offense and decided to put an end to her rival's claims. She disguised herself as an old woman and came to earth and challenged Arachne to a weaving contest. Arachne's work, it turned out, was every bit as good as Athena's. Arachne boasted that she had produced the superior cloth. Whereupon the goddess revealed her true identity, tore apart Arachne's weaving and beat her with the shuttle from the loom. Out of despair, Arachne took a rope and hanged herself. But ultimately, Athena took pity on her and changed the rope into a web, and then turned Arachne into a spider.
The moral of the story seems to suggest that one should not be overly prideful of one's abilities and boasting may result in overconfidence, which could then result in a vastly different and perhaps unpleasant outcome than what had been intended. Olympians, take note!
See you again tomorrow...on the WORLD WIDE WEB.