The Arachnaphobe and the Spider – A Love Story
Eunice is a spider. She is a big, fat, brown spider of the orbweaver family, a Neoscona crucifera to be exact. I am an Arachnaphobe. Capital A – Arachnaphobe. To tell you the truth, just looking at the spider websites to identify her gave me the willies. Big willies. There is a terrible fear of spiders inside me. I control it. One has to when you spend as much time outside as I do. “Spiders are my garden friends,” I tell myself (as long as they aren’t shiny black with a red hourglass on their abdomen). It works as long as they don’t touch me, or crawl from the mulch into my garden clogs. Now that is the willies for you.
For the last two weeks Eunice has resided in the frame of my front door. It is the perfect spot – beside the front porch light to attract unsuspecting prey. The light is rarely on; but when it is, it must be a spider’s dream. The east-facing door catches the morning sun and warms up quick – perfect for a fat, cold-blooded predator. Every morning I walk out the door and… … well, you know what happens next – web face, or hair – and no idea where Eunice is. Terror. Pure heart-racing trauma to my psyche.
After a day or two of web encounters I acquired the habit of automatically dodging the web. It was there, I knew, and Eunice was in a fat little ball in the corner of the door jamb, waiting. We developed a rather one-sided relationship. I named her Eunice. I don’t know why. It fit. I would greet her on my way out the door or on my return. Sometimes, if the sun wasn’t too bright, she would be out in her web, waiting. When I would approach she would scuttle to the corner, out of harm’s way. Later, she just stayed where she was. I’m not sure if spiders think. But perhaps she had determined that my lumbering (by her standard) self was no threat to her. “Why allow her to stay there?” you may ask. Well, she did no harm and she ate mosquitoes and flies. Her web was a beautiful thing. Although, to be honest, I wish she had chosen a different spot like her neighbor who built her web from the gutter, down the drain spout and out to the shrubbery. But she chose my doorframe and was there with fresh web everyday. It was almost like loyalty.
Two days ago she changed sides of the door frame. This surprised and slightly terrorized me on first encounter. What was her game? Was she bored with our relationship? I dodged to the left instead of the right and we continued our dance. Yesterday, she stayed in her tucked up little ball stance for most of the day in the corner of the door frame. I put it down to cooler weather. I turned on the porch light to aid her hunting.
I contemplated my distaste of all things spidery, and came to the conclusion that I felt a small amount of affection for Eunice and perhaps my thoughts about the general spider world were misguided and controlled by irrational fear. Perhaps my encounters with Eunice could erase my fears of the greater world of spiders – all those spiders I didn’t know could now become something different in my eyes. I planned to tell her my thoughts in the morning.
I opened the door and Eunice was not there. Not in her web. Not in the corner with her legs tucked up around her. She was gone from my door jamb and from my life. I felt a moment of grief to tell the truth. A tiny moment that had become a part of my day, even for just a few short weeks, is gone forever. I’ll miss her. The web is still there. I dodged it.