How To Catch and Release a Spider
A Spider in My House
Winter Is Tapping at the Door
Winter is tapping at the door here in the northeast United States. First it taps gently, and you get the message that maybe you should close the windows you left open all summer and into the autumn. So you do.
Then Winter starts to tap a little more incessantly, and now you know you have to turn the heat on, too, at least for a chilly one or two evenings or days. And you do.
But Winter is really a bit of a sneak. He plays around with tapping on the door and then runs and hides for a while before he comes back with a vengeance and starts knocking on the door in earnest. Because, you see, we have what is called an Indian Summer.
Indian Summer is Spider Invasion Time
Indian Summer visits us in October and even at times in November. Indian Summer brings unseasonably warm temperatures along with a false promise that maybe Winter won’t be coming at all. It’s a delusion, of course, a seduction, as if we are on psychedelic drugs. We all buy into this seduction by opening up the windows, turning off the heat, and putting off the necessary laying in of winter supplies like snow shovels, rock salt for melting ice on walkways, and ice scrapers for our cars. We think late Summer has come back and it’s time to get out the tanning lotion.
We do this every year. We never learn. Perhaps this is a good thing. Our seasonal denial and disbelief keep us in touch with our wishes and dreams.
Believe me when I tell you that we in the northeast would like to think we really could be living in southern California, where it never rains, and the winter months showcase the locals going about their business in fur parkas and snow pants as if the temperature were freezing when it’s only 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some of you in the northeast may disagree with me, but if you look closely inside yourselves, do you really, really, really like the bitterness and wetness and chill and ice this climate gifts us with from December through February? You say you do, but c’mon, ‘fess up…wouldn’t you rather be cooking that steak on an open fire in the back yard than on the top of your stove in the closed-up kitchen? Tell the truth.
Spiders are realistic. They hear Winter’s gentle tapping right away and take immediate heed. They don’t play around with shutting and opening windows and turning the heat on and off. They have no delusional belief whatsoever in Indian Summer. They simply move into my house at Winter’s first tapping.
I envy their decisive approach to life. They see change coming, they know what the change is, and they don’t agonize about what to do about it—they simply act on it. Good for them! Clearly, spiders have nothing about Libra in their genes.
This Is What I Don't Do to Spiders
Spiders Bite—A Digression
These spiders that move into my house at the first tapping of Winter are not the poisonous kinds like black widows or brown recluses. They are just big, black, and either ugly or beautiful depending on your perspective. But they are also not harmless. They bite. Simple and true. And their bites can be painful and lead to infection.
I must digress here with a story told to me by a dear friend about a dear friend of hers who, one night while lying in bed, saw a spider dangling in front of her face from an invisible silk thread attached to the overhead lighting fixture. This friend of a friend decided to let the spider continue on its downward path, just to see what it would do when it landed on her nose. Can you guess what it did?
Spiders bite for no good reason when they are not threatened, only to see what might taste good. I guess that’s good enough reason for them.
So, it is Autumn here, Winter is tapping, soon to be knocking at the door, and my house has become a spider refuge, as it has every year since I have lived here. I have yet to offer my face to a descending spider, but, who knows? Maybe I’ll learn something other than what the friend of my friend learned. Now, that’s really pushing it, but my curiosity may yet get the best of me.
So Much for the "Itsy Bitsy Spider"
Sneak Up on the Spider
I’ve become quite adept at catching these lovely but also gross creatures. You can see that I have mixed feelings about them. They are good for my house in many ways. They eat centipedes and ants and other bugs I don’t want around. But they can also eat me. So, what to do?
Long ago, I made a decision not to kill them. When I made that decision, I had to learn to catch them and then release them outside my house. So, here’s how you do it.
When you find a spider in your house, perhaps on your carpeting which might be white like mine, step away. Leave it alone. Let it think you are not a threat. Give it space. Step away softly, so as not to send your terrified vibrations through the flooring.
Get Your Equipment
Go to your kitchen and get a glass that you can see through, not a ceramic mug or cup. Then, get an index card or some kind of paper the weight and heft of a paper file folder that you would file your bills in, or something like that.
Sneak up on the spider. Remember, you have not threatened her yet. You haven’t run around the house screaming, “Spider! Spider! Spider!” The spider is calm because of your control over your emotions, but don’t misjudge her perceptions…she can read you like a book. Remain calm, even if you feel you want to throw up.
Sneak up on the spider with the glass in one hand and the stiff paper in the other. Now, it’s a duel of wits. The spider has you in its peripheral vision, which is much better than yours, but you have the edge on surprise.
Imprison the Spider in a Glass Cage
Position yourself behind the spider.
It’s easy to figure out which is the front and which is the back of a spider; the fattest part of the spider is at the back end.
Quickly cover the spider with the glass.
The spider, you will be happy to know, will freak out and run all over the place inside the inverted glass. That’s a victory for you, right?
It's Easy as 1-2-3
Slide a Piece of Rigid Paper between the Glass Rim and the Floor
Next, take the rigid paper in your other hand and start to slip it between the floor and the glass. The spider will move away from the paper’s edge until she has nowhere else to go, and then she’ll step up to the paper in order to keep her eight legs from being crushed. Imagine yourself as a car in an auto junk yard, realizing that you are going to be crushed by an un-stoppable set of steel jaws. Take satisfaction that the spider is feeling the same way.
You now have the rigid paper underneath the rim of the inverted glass, and the spider on the paper. It’s time to insert your fingers under the paper, press the paper to the rim of the glass, and lift the glass, paper, and spider off the floor and turn the glass right-side up. Miraculously, the spider will go to gravity and settle on the glass's bottom. Just make sure, when you do this, that there are no gaps between the paper and the glass rim…that spider is not only smart, but also gelatinous…it will find the smallest escape route if you let it.
You are now holding in one hand the upright glass, and with the other hand the rigid paper smacked to its rim. The spider is at the bottom of the glass, confused as hell. It's time to take the spider outside and set it free.
Oh, Oh, Oh…Did you remember to unlock and open your door, the one you shut at Winter’s tapping? If not, you are in a world of hurt unless one of your kids or friends or your spouse hears your exasperated cry, “Sh*t! I’ve got a spider here. Open the damned door!”
Know Your Spiders!
Do the Dance of Freedom
Once outside, coordinate your hands so that you both take the paper off the top of the glass and toss the contents of the glass in the direction of your choice. This is definitely both a calculated and graceful maneuver.
Imagine yourself leaping in a field of wild flowers, meeting the true love of your life, and when you near her or him, you cast away all your inhibitions and go for the gold. With the greatest of joy, in one fluid motion, as if you are dancing, remove the paper from the rim of the glass with one hand, toss the contents with the other, leap a bit if you like, and the spider is set free.
She will drop to the ground, stunned for less than a second, and then go to seek the nearest cover, although in a dance far less graceful than yours. After all, her parents never sent her to ballet school.
Now, not only have you rid your house of a creature that would bite you given half a chance, you've also put a bit of spider karma in your account. I wonder if there are spiders in heaven?
As she has planted, so does she harvest; such is the field of karma.
~Sri Guru Granth Sahib
How NOT To Catch a Spider
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