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Column: Little spider causes big stir in household


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It is a triangulate cobweb spider as far as I can figure, either that or a hobo spider. I hope the former because triangulate cobweb spiders “are not dangerous to humans, but they do hunt brown recluse and black widows, so they are nice to have around the house.”

Hobo spiders, on the other hand, are only “slightly less poisonous” than a brown recluse. The picture on the spider identification website (ha, ha) makes me favor the triangulate cobweb version. I’m going to go with that.

Becky hurried into the house last weekend and said I should see the “giant” spider in the garage. I pictured something from a 1950s horror movie where, because of a nuclear explosion, insects grow to the size of houses and terrorize the planet and nothing can stop them not even the U.S. Army, but then some B-movie actor and his comely B-movie actress assistant come up with a clever plan and save the world from radioactive insect destruction.

Imagine my disappointment when the huge threat to humankind turned out to be about an inch or so across and clinging quietly to its triangulate web perhaps waiting for a tasty brown recluse or black widow to pop by.

Ah, well, so much for the big chance for me — and my comely assistant — to save the world from utter devastation.

Spiders have been weaving their way through my consciousness    recently. A timeline of my oldest grandson’s interest in action/    

adventure heroes would show a link from Mario Brothers to Indiana Jones to Star Wars to his current obsession, Spider-Man, which was the theme of his eighth birthday party last week. The party guests wore Spider-Man masks, played games involving a net fashioned into a spider wed, and otherwise ran around the backyard swinging by imaginary webs from imaginary buildings.

I have been happy to talk with him about Spiderman and my childhood history with the iconic Web Slinger. Like just about every male Baby Boomer, my memory tells me when I was a kid I owned the rarest baseball cards, the most sought-after toys and, of course, the finest copies of early issue comic books including Spider-Man.

History is murky as to what became of these treasures, so there is no rare collectibles legacy to bequeath, but maybe it’s enough that Grandpa is aware of Spidey’s archenemies and knows his Green Goblin from his Dr. Octopus.

Another grandchild, just over 18 months, is now in the let’s-say-or-do-the-same-thing-over-and-over stage of development. One of her recent favorites is that old standby, “Eensy Weensy Spider” (aka “Itsy Bitsy Spider”). This particular verse is what is known by childhood development experts as a “fingerplay” or “action rhyme” and involves me climbing thumb to little finger, raining down, washing out, drying sun and climbing again while my granddaughter makes an unsteady effort to copy my hand movements all the while giggling and smiling. This is followed ad infinitum with an insistent, “More!”

Well, how can I respond except to go one more time up that waterspout?

Knowing my efforts would do little to save the world and might even do the world more harm than good, I made no attempt to tear down the triangulate web of the arachnid in our garage.

The spider and his web were in a place where Becky and I could easily avoid an accidental run-in, so we decided that live-and-let-live was the best course of action. It usually is.

As we would walk by on our way to or from the car, we would angle for a position where the light was just right to see the spider’s delicate creation, a silken shimmering miracle. I looked forward to our visits as I opened the door. Then one morning a few days later, the web and its maker were gone. Off to conquer other worlds, perhaps.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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