Dick's Blog

“My Spider”, Chapter 57 of 92 of “Inside and Outside”, A Free Book

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Next Week, “Mesmerized”, Chapter 58 of 92 of “Inside and Outside” 


Chapter 55, Proper Attire, was about my black Speedo bathing suit. You will meet a red Speedo in this this story, a suit you wouldn’t want to wear. This is a semi-humorous story about spiders. If you have Arachnophobia, this story may increase or cure your fear of these critters. Some people find them fascinating. Sometimes, you just have to ignore them. Most of us are neutral or don’t obsess about spiders except when someone looks at you in horror and asks, “What is that crawling up your neck?”


My Spider 

As a hiker, I’m used to brushing into spider webs and their threads on the trail. It’s most annoying when they touch your face. Of course, it doesn’t happen in winter, although I have seen snow spiders, but they don’t make webs. It’s the surest way of knowing if someone has been on the trail before you. If there are no spider webs, then someone else has preceded you. Sometimes their webs become so numerous that I wave my hiking poles ahead of me to clear the trail. Early morning, they are the thickest. Then, they are often visible, like jeweled necklaces, because of the minute droplets of dew that condense and collect on the filaments. Sometimes it only takes an hour or two for a spider to spin another thread across the trail. I know that because I have intersected them on my return trip from a mountain top. When bushwhacking through the woods, without a trail, they can get real thick because nothing, except a large animal, would break them. 

That gives me the chilling thought that when I’m hiking, my body is probably crawling with spiders. Some are small and almost invisible, but others, like the big grey water spider, are menacing enough to give you second thoughts about having them crawling on your body. There is something about hiking and bushwhacking that puts those thoughts to the back of the mind. In part, it’s the preoccupation with the physical effort. It also has to do with one’s motion and gliding through the changing scenery. There is a sense of power that I have also sensed when I used to jog, when the scenery just seemed to pass by. When judged from my perspective, the world is floating by a stationary me. I’m the observer and master of my environment. With this perspective and commanding view, spiders just don’t seem very important. When the webs get real thick, to the point of being a nuisance, you can always suggest to your partner that they take the lead and collect a few in their face. No wonder my wife likes to follow behind me!

I guess I should be more concerned. My wife was apparently bitten on the hand by a spider while gardening. The flesh around the bite turned an ugly black for about a week. We don’t have the black widow in New England, but we do have the elusive brown recluse. When I mentioned the word necrosis to her she cringed at my observation. I believe I got bit by something that even had my doctor guessing. I awoke one morning with a high fever, and to my horror, I was wearing what looked like a bright red Speedo bathing suit, except I was naked. The inflammation was perfectly symmetrical, so what ever got me must have done it mid line or at the center of my body. The blood test showed no indication of a tick bite and Lyme disease or any other invader. The fever broke in 24 hours, and then, after a few days, the skin peeled off in that area as if I had suffered a terrible sunburn. And that was the end of it, no aftereffects. I wish I knew what bit me. Maybe I should be more afraid. 

The other day I had another spider encounter. On my back deck, I’ve noticed occasionally these little black spiders that live around my Martha Stewart umbrella table and deck chairs. They’re very quick. If cornered, they can jump, like, “I’m outa here!” I assume they feed on the little red mites and other near microscopic creatures that inhabit our world. Could you imagine a world without these little predators who keep a balance in nature? Can you imagine a world without the microscopic things that are vital to our survival? Who would keep our eye lashes clean of the microscopic bacteria we don’t need? Who would process the waste in our guts? I guess we should be careful who we squash. These little spiders are not as menacing as a wolf spider, but they have an interesting shape, with smaller back legs and two pronounced front legs for working the thread they produce. I’ve watched them jump off a twig like a bungee jumper, only to be arrested in mid air by an unseen filament. Up close, under a magnifier they would probably look as scary as Godzilla. 

I was preparing to go out to a retiree’s lunch. I grabbed a knit shirt from my drawer. Sitting there, talking to my old friends from work, I felt a tickle in my arm pit. I scratched. I always have tickles. Then, something at the back of my neck, then my stomach. I pulled up my shirt, and I thought I saw something drop to the floor. Must have been an ant, I thought. The tickling stopped. 

I returned home from the luncheon, and was sitting at the computer. Then it started all over again. I’ve had things crawling over me in the woods, and also in an open lean-to at night in my sleeping bag. This guy was here in my house, in my shirt, and I didn’t have that sense of power and tolerance I told you about. I stood up, un-tucked my shirt, and shook it. Out dropped one of those critters that live on my back deck. Maybe there was a family of them living in my knit shirt. I sat back down, and to my chagrin, I sat on it and squashed it. How this or these creatures had avoided and escaped my vexation and scratching during the day, I can’t imagine. They must be fast! 

I was glad to be rid of the itching, but I was saddened. I have put up with this in the woods, but I wasn’t in the “woods” mentality. I had been squeamish and intolerant. I thought of my son, who even as a young child, would find a bug in the house and gently carry it outside. How many people let their intolerance carry over to their personal relation- ships? This spider and his family had accompanied me for half a day. I suffered no bites, and for all I know, they may have rid me of a few unwanted guests. This may have been the beginning of a new symbiotic relationship, I providing warmth, moisture and food, and it protecting me from unwanted parasites. I could have used it the night that I got attacked by the red Speedo bug. 

 Next Week, “Mesmerized”, Chapter 58 of 92 of “Inside and Outside” 

Dick Sederquist is a retired engineer, engineering consultant, writer, author, hiker, motivational speaker and cancer and depression survivor. Dick suffered an emotional breakdown 35 years ago, realizing that he had been depressed all his life. That started his long journey back to mental health and happiness. Dick writes motivational and inspirational nonfiction short stories and essays for general audiences on many topics including life, family, humor, spirituality, nature, science, his volunteer prison experiences, hiking and travel adventures, depression, overcoming adversity, and what the author refers to as “home improvement”, healing the mind and body we live in. Dick and his wife have been married 50 years; have two grown children and four grandchildren, all part of a close-knit, active, caring and loving family. The whole family believes that the greatest gift in life is helping others.


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Guest Sunday, 20 May 2018