Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What Are You So Afraid Of?

Anyone who has read some of my previous blog posts knows how much I love animals, how I will sacrifice financial freedom and time to care for them. I pretty much respect all living creatures; I even believe in that “talk to you plants, they respond” theory. To that end, I generally try not to harm any living creature. Although I won’t go so far as to swerve my car to avoid an animal-vehicle collision, I am known to drive 2 mph so as not to squish caterpillars or frogs making their way across a highway. When I have on occasion hit a squirrel or bunny crossing the road, I suffer from tremendous feelings of guilt. I can, however, euthanize my pets when their physical bodies are no longer capable of letting them live a quality life. I cry a lot but send them off with the thought I am doing what’s best for them.

I have even been known to rescue those winged pests, pigeons, and keep them safe and fed in my chicken coop. There really is only one creature I have no qualms about eliminating - cockroaches. I despise those sneaky, mass-producing, invincible menaces with a passion, and although I feel bad about killing them, I feel worse about letting them live and take over the world, or at least my backyard, so “off with their heads!” is my motto.

There is another creepy crawler that I have trouble allowing to live, only because they creep me out so much. I cannot handle spiders. I think it has something to do with all the legs and the sneaky way they can climb up your body without you even knowing it. In any case, I don’t want to risk an encounter with spiders ever! That’s why I’m still reeling from my recent trip to northern Washington state where spiders rule the woods, a place I love to go but where I had to be ever vigilant.

My husband, John and I were taking a nice leisurely stroll with our bed and breakfast host, enjoying the tree-lined paths throughout his property. At one point I noticed a beautifully crafted web (I do appreciate the intricate beauty) off to the side with a nice, plump spider in its center. I pointed it out to my companions and said, “as long as the spider and her trap are not across my path, I’m fine.” Soon however, I stopped just short of walking into a web spread across the lane; I HAD ALMOST WALKED RIGHT INTO IT! There, sitting pretty and just waiting for a nice juicy meal was the biggest, fattest, meanest-looking spider I have ever seen. Okay, so I exaggerate, but it freaked me out so much because a mille-step further and I would have had web sticking to my body and a spider SOMEWHERE on me and I would have died from fright! Now, that’s no exaggeration.

Growing up I was witness to my grandmother and aunts’ illogical fear of snakes. I have no problem with snakes and could never understand why they said even just hearing the word “snake” could bring them to tears. My spider phobia isn’t quite as excessive, but it’s close. I can clearly recall as a child sitting outside on a lawn chair and looking down to see a big, fat yellow spider crawling up my bare leg. I screamed and flailed to rid myself of it and I am traumatized to this day with the memory.

So on what was to be a peaceful walk in the woods turned into a tense experience with me, the always independent woman, clinging to my husband with my eyes scanning the path ahead. Once we were out in the open I felt I could relax. Then SOMETHING brushed my face (okay, in hindsight I think it was the wind) and I became a vision of Chevy Chase from Saturday Night Live doing one of his clumsy pratfall skits. I flung myself against John so hard he actually got mad at me for bruising his golf hand! Needless to say I didn’t make the best first impression with our host, especially when he considered me to the “nature girl” my husband had painted me to be.

I know spiders have a place in this world. I have even learned to control my phobia enough so that I can, using a cup, magazine and shake action, remove a spider from the wall of my house. I respect them; I just don’t want them to touch me! Almost worse than a real encounter with one is the dreams I have with spiders; there’s no escape when in the grips of that nightmare.

Usually when I write about something that is emotionally taxing, I can rid myself of the burden by getting the thoughts out of my head. Not this time, however. I’m afraid all this talk, and writing, about spiders has set me up for a day of hyper-vigilance.

“WHAT’S THAT? Gotta go, I think something is crawling up my leg.


Alan Burnett said...

These illogical fears are almost more physical that either emotional or mental. I have this thing about snakes and when I once came across one in the grass down in the New Forest I just ran off in a blind panic. As far as I know it was only a little grass smake but it was enough to get me moving ... fast.

Valerie said...

An enjoyable post. As a child I killed a spider.. I won't go into the gory details, suffice to say it scared me to have one near me. Yoga taught me to stop being so afraid. I wonder if spiders and other insects are scared of us giants?

Donna B said...

On one of my visits to CA, Mom and I were doing some of Dad's laundry. Mom decided to water some plants while we were talking. As it grew darker, I turned on the porch light and the sparkle of a huge, beautiful web glistened between the Pomegranate bush and the patio post. Hanging in the center was a big ol' orange spider very similar to yours! It was almost as big as a Tarantella!!! I can sympathize...