Itsy Bitsy Spider Met An Untimely End: Selective Appreciation of Nature

A spider visitor walked through my studio, bold as brass, and I panicked and killed it. Drowned it, actually. It was awful. I didn’t sleep that night. I could imagine it everywhere, crawling, and I felt that somehow by keeping my eyes open in the dark I would be able to see it coming and…do something. What? Shake it off?

I don’t have a phobia, it’s nothing so extreme as that. I simply had a very bad experience with a lot of spiders and spider bites when I was young and living in a basement suite and so I prefer it when they keep a respectful distance. I encourage that distance with spells and essential oils and on rare occasions when one does draw too near, violence.

I feel cruel, and hypocritical. Because I also love spiders. When they are outside, spinning galaxies between tree branches, their gossamer webs glowing softly under sunlight, I think they are lovely.

Spiders are also extremely helpful to have around. They control mites and other buggy irritants that we would probably also be inclined to squash. Spiders are a part of their own complex ecosystem, and whether we like it or not, we are standing right in the middle of it. They were here first after all.

And so, this is partly a guilt-trip for myself, and partly a general wondering about why we humans struggle to take in nature as a whole. I recognize that some people live closer to the dirt than I do, but in our modern society we have such an ability to take the smallest and most selective bites of our natural systems. We take what we like and leave the rest. Sometimes we take the pictures we like and then kill the rest.

Nature subverts our ability to control things. Somewhere deep down we know that we will never get the best of her. And yet we try. Despite all my efforts, I found a garden spider by the window this morning. The sun was out and I was feeling confident (and residually guilty) and so this time I put it in a jar and carried it outside. I’m under no illusions at all that this same spider, or maybe its friend, will be an unwelcome guest another day.

That brings me back to my wondering – why are certain aspects of nature so unwelcome? Why are the crawlies so revolting? And is there a way to live more harmoniously and genuinely welcome nature to share space? What would our homes, our cities, look like if so?

I realize that was a long way to go for a spider killing. But just think about it.

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