Amongst the books on the landing lay Charlotte’s Web, our bedtime reading for the summer. We finished it the night before school started and Robin and I wept bitterly when Charlotte died, tired, old, with her mission completed. And Nathalie looked confused and said, ‘Why are you crying, Mummy?’ I hugged my girls to me on our big bed and finished the book, my voice breaking with emotion.
During the holiday, a large black spider with eyes on stalks that, to be honest, could've passed for two extra legs, set up home in the Belfast sink in the laundry room. I let him stay, loathe to crush him but not brave enough to catch him. I asked Mark to remove the creature, but the request sits amongst other demands and the removal of a sedentary arachnid from a little used sink is not high up the list of family priorities.
It's spider season and as I walk up to the veg patch to see if the tomatoes have ripened I break through long silks spun from bush to bush across the garden path. In previous years, I would have yelped, leaping back in fear, searching my hair and clothes for eight-legged stowaways. This year, Charlotte, and a heightened awareness of the dignity of animals, makes me bold and instead I catch the radial lines with my hand and swing the spiders and their webs to one side, attaching the threads to more suitable bushes.
As I lay out the bath mat for my shower this morning I disturb another large black stalky-eyed spider. It runs to the plug hole and hides. I shiver and want to hide too. Without taking my eyes off the miniature monster, I reach out a hand and pick up a beaker. Mark is downstairs but I feel brave. With the world of the bath tub still and quiet again, it climbs up out of the waste and sits in the bottom of the bath, resting. I slowly move the beaker down over him but the shadow or the movement or some spider sixth sense alerts him and he scrambles, fast as the wind, up the side of the bath towards me. I scream. Jump back. Drop the beaker. Wow! I didn’t know spiders ran that fast.
“Are you alright?” Mark queries from the kitchen.
“Yes,” I shout back, “just catching a spider”.
I don’t ask him to come. I am brave. I approach again. This time 'wise'. Take aim. Concentrate and then a fast swoop down on the subject. I go in. Bullseye. Our eight-legged friend is trapped beneath the beaker. I find a piece of cardboard and bring it back to the bathroom, slide it under the beaker and lift the spider to the window. Removing the cardboard I let the spider drop out to the garden below. Suddenly, I wonder if spiders can survive a twelve foot fall.
Read last month's post: veg patch