I awoke this morning to find the kittens out of their new high sided crate – their little back legs get stronger by the hour! The crate sits in my closet, but 5 feet off the ground, so it would only be a matter of time before they explore right off the end of the shelf. In moving them I discovered a brown tarantula, about as large as my hand. While pondering the pros and cons of moving him – he’s obviously eating something and that something might be less desirable insects and spiders / I think the brown ones bite and I’d hate to see a playful kitten get hurt – I realized he was too big for all the containers I had. Tarantulas are slow moving so I thought I could maybe just brush him out with the broom. When I touched him he took on this warrior stance – strangely reminiscent of spiderman’s crouching pose. I was amazed at the strength of his body in the yoga like position. I touched the broom to him again and he suddenly became much bigger, spreading himself out flat on the ground. The broom idea obviously wasn’t working and instinctual feelings of danger and horror were beginning to replace my previous calm observation and gratitude at finding such a foreign (to me) creature in my bedroom. I got a pot and laid it over him, and then left the room. I think that might have been a mistake. About 5 minutes later I returned, put a piece of paper under the pot and then dragged it to the edge of the deck, pushing it off. When I put the paper in I didn’t feel any resistance, but figured that the spider could be anywhere inside the pot. When I pushed it off the edge of the deck I
didn’t see him either. Now I might have just missed him, or the paper may have landed on top of him. The other option, one I’m not really wanting to think about is that he could have lifted the pot and found another spot in my room. I don’t mind the thought that he’s in their, after all tarantulas are not terribly social creatures and like small dark places which I have no desire to explore. It’s the idea that he was strong enough to lift the pot that troubles me. Relatively his strength is much greater than mine, and for some reason this always freaks me out a little. Watching ants, really any insect or arachnid, as they go about their daily business with such speed and obvious strength always makes me feel just a little in awe and just a little uncomfortable.
Why do we have this instinctual fear / fascination with exoskeletal creatures? From the alien and extra terrestrial movies to the rows of bug spray and insecticides in the supermarket, to the squealing and hysterical killing I’ve seen on several occasions, what is it that makes them so much ‘the other’? I used to think it was because I couldn’t look such creatures in the eye and therefore could have no idea what they were thinking, whether they could think, there could be no connection, no recognition. This is still part of it, but I think it’s also that they are really just so much stronger than us. Perhaps it’s respect turned sideways. Respect without connection becomes a sort of distrust, a wariness?