Saturday, April 30, 2011

KEEPER AT THE GATE


She got me in the face again. She does it every time I walk through the front gate, under the over-arching greenery. I forget that she would have been busy all night and would now be lying in wait for the unwary. Excuse me, lady, I live here! I have a right to walk through this gateway whenever I want to.

Oh well, she lives here too. She and her friends. Inside and outside. The one outside the back door has a harder job – more space to spin that first critical filament across from one side to the other and then to create the beautiful, intricate web that is her daily life’s work. But she doesn’t catch me so often because I can see it when I open the door and I duck.

The one that lives behind the brickwork of the hearth behind the log-burner is pretty safe. She’s messy, she leaves her corpses for me to clean up, and her web is one of those indeterminate ones – smallish, dense, dusty and squashy – but she doesn’t have to keep building it because I leave her alone. In earlier times she didn’t even have to do much catching either because my other half used to toss her the dead flies from the windowsills. She would dart out and snatch them as he flicked them at the web. She would have got a fright in the recent earthquakes though because the brickwork has been shaken loose from the wall. I hope that the re-decorators will leave her space to emerge when they’re done plugging up the cracks and crevices.

In the beachy suburb where I live we are accustomed to sharing our houses with spiders. I remember when we did some major renovations to another house a few years back and the builders “broke the house” – that is, exposed its innards. The wild life that emerged, blinking, from the dust and debris was amazing. And big. And very black. But not as big and black as the Huntsman with whom I once shared a shower in Oz. We stared at each other, she in the corner above the door and I, scrubbing as fast as I could, in the shower box.

But mostly the spiders that live in my house are regular sized and harmless enough. They catch flies. I make sure there aren’t any webs above my bed. I’d prefer they didn’t occupy my standard reading lamp, although they try. But that persistent, determined, patient arachnid at the front gate is taxing my patience. I’m tired of facefuls of sticky, invisible fibres. Every day.

Perhaps I should tack a warning to the gate to remind me of what’s lurking outside. Everyone has to eat. And that’s the only way she knows how to catch lunch.

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