My aunt was more often thin than not; my mother quite rotund.
My aunt ardently eschewed parenthood; my mother lived for her child.
My aunt taught English--a restless, colloquial, malleable, and opinionated medium; my mother taught science--unequivocal, calculable, deductive, and true.
My aunt hated spiders with a vengeance.
My mother rescued them on a regular basis from the wrath of her sister's rolled up newspaper.
But they got along so well that I wouldn't be surprised if the cancer that took my aunt in September was exacerbated by the pain and longing she felt deep down--a pain one can ignore with the brain most of the time, while the heart picks away with an ax at a hole in the wall while the warden is dozing.
My mom taught me a lot about nature. The national parks were her Hollywood Bowl. Getting out of the car and walking towards the scenic platform with her was like accompanying a superstar from her dressing room to the stage. We would get to the proverbial mic, and the show would begin. I would love to see the parents of the surrounding children shoo them in the direction of me and my mom as she explained how the majestic landscape, or cave formation was formed. They could have read about it on the iron relief placards which punctuate each point of interest, but they wouldn't get my mother. They wouldn't get a woman who was limitlessly impressed with what grand confluence of events had to take place to make gravel. They wouldn't get the rosy woman with the long, brown hair explaining with great zeal how everything one can observe in the natural world has a purpose, and everything, if you boil it down to its essence and strip away any human interference, shapes a letter; that letter then completes a word; that word is strung together to make a sentence; and finally, that sentence is combined with millions of other phrases, exclamations, questions, and answers to comprise the big book of life.
And spiders had just as much a right to be there as we did.
And so, I was taught about them as a child; not as a threat, but as a wondrous creature--nomadic when dispossessed yet traditional and community-minded at heart, building a house, a family, and a graveyard all in one, toiling endlessly in their microcosm of a neighborhood, and from their intellect and instinct stocking their kitchens. And while they may have a bad reputation around town, and their only real friends may be those of its kind, their courtyard was rarely empty and their audience consistently rapt with interest. They walk with grace despite disproportion, and if one needs any coaxing to admit their beauty one need only to walk through any garden at dawn, slowly, patiently, and find the nearest, newest spun web. To me, the dew glistening off the silk of a freshly spun web is as inspiring a sight as the most silver city skyline reflecting sun from its buildings, holding untold opportunity both for architect and inhabitant alike.
I am still discovering the house I shall live in until I die. It is spotlessly clean, and yet it has families still living in neighborhoods unseen. Sporadically the spider goes off to work like we do, leaving its home open to those with keen eyesight. Often I can tell there is no one returning anytime soon and so I will clean up the mess and move on. But as I come upon a corner with an occupied house I will knock with a gentle breath. If I see the resident pull the shade down I will cease my canvassing--I have enough to do to mess with paying tenants. Because the spiders--with their unflagging work ethic--provide a service; my mother taught me that. The spider takes care of the creatures which--whether it be luck, lack of intelligence, curiosity, or a sick proclivity towards self-destruction--will lose the battle against time. If they are lucky they have a family to carry on the genes--perhaps one of millions, billions, or trillions even. Of course, there's a chance that they are the last of their line, unwittingly relinquishing their crest in an odds-stacked fight for another's continued lineage.
People tend to be quite frightened of spiders.
It is true that they bite--they live in this world, and to live is to fight for life. And excepting the stray straggler who rappels for the best of intentions and finds itself wrapped up in our introverted world, it is more often their house which we invade and either imprison in a vacuum bag or flat out extinguish with a rolled up newspaper. And then their house is empty. Its weeds grow as the dust clings like sustenance once did. And rafters fall in, beams give way, and the house falls down and into itself.
And the city condemns it with a knock on the door, while I wait for my breath to bring a response.
If none comes, it gets swept away, but it's always good to check first.
They may be scared to come to the door; we've got quite the reputation in their world.
And they can't eat us, just like we can't eat them.
So I don't really see where there is a problem.
Maybe I never will.
Thanks for reading.