As a gardener, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m afraid of spiders – afterall, they’re so good at keeping garden pests at bay. But I’ve been scarred by a childhood in which wolf spiders – those terrifyingly quick-moving, giant, hairy beasts – haunted my summers. They’d emerge when the weather warmed, appearing in the bathroom sink every morning, darting out from every toy I’d pick up in the basement, and once – and I think this is really what did me in – crawling into bed with me. My dad ran into my bedroom with a baseball bat, the screams were that loud.
Maybe I’m growing up (I turned 30 last week – surely thirty-year-olds can’t be afraid of “bugs”) because while planting my edamame seeds yesterday, I disturbed a momma spider and it broke my heart.
See, she’d been nesting in my lavender, and when I’d dug nearby to plant the seeds, I guess she thought she had better make a break for it. But she wasn’t going anywhere without her babies. She was frantically trying to haul her eggs away, and I wasn’t making things easy. I’m not totally reformed, so I didn’t want them hatching in my yard (I envisioned something out of a B-grade horror flick) so I was trying to scoop her and her eggs up onto my kneeling pad so I could I move them. I probably terrorized her in doing so, but eventually I walked her across the alley and found her a new nursery at the ghetto house. Then I subjected her to photography.
It sounds lame, but even two years ago I wouldn’t have been able to move her. I’d have called Ben. And yesterday I felt compassion for her. The way she so desperately fought to hang on to her eggs… I must have recognized that mothering instinct, I guess, even in a spider. Maybe they’re not so scary afterall.