At first glance, it may look as if the rather snazzy spider in the photo is lying on her back waving her legs in the air. In fact she was dangling a few inches above the kitchen counter, suspended from the ceiling by a thread. It’s probably just as well that I saw her before I put the mixing bowl down and started measuring out the flour to make scones.
She was the second spider I had to ask to leave the house this morning. I don’t suppose either of them really fancied being outside in the rain, but I decided I’d be happier if they left the premises, even if they weren’t.
I was brought up on old wives’ tales and traditions, and was taught, “if you want to live and thrive, let the spider run alive”. So although I don’t actually like spiders, I’m quite prepared to grab a glass or a jam jar and a piece of card to catch them and put them out. In fact, I found so many giant spiders on the basement stairs when I moved into this flat that I now have spider-trapping equipment ready to hand upstairs and down – which proved useful when I started to find black beetles all around the place a couple of months ago.
I tend to use a glass and plain postcard as a bug trap, as it means I can keep an eye on where the creature is, but my mother would simply bundle creepy crawlies up in a duster or use an empty matchbox and shut the insect inside before carrying it outside and letting it go.
The matchbox was definitely the preferred method for wasps that came into the house, and a wasp buzzing up against the window pane would provoke an automatic shriek of “a matchbox!” from me or my siblings. I think there was a time I actually thought that was what the creatures were called.
I’ve mentioned before that my earliest poem – or at least the earliest I still have a record of – was called The spider. Since then, although I have written many other poems with a variety of bugs in them, I’m not sure any of them feature spiders. There are, however, a few abandoned cobwebs.
We weave the world, each one of us
a thread in an unseen design.
We scuttle to and fro on paths
that cross then turn
and double back, define
a pattern unobserved.
Rope snarls with silk, ravels
and frays. We ply our way and darn
as best we can when fibres snap.
A dog barks in the night. High
in the corner of my room, a cobweb