Friday, March 15, 2013

NDL Illustrated - The This Old House Years

We read this book over and over to the children when they were small.

It is not just an amusing  and nicely illustrated tale, but an important lesson in symbiosis. 
It helped inform our policy* on living with the multitudes of spiders who love to call our 100 plus-year-old house their home. 

When Billy left his pet spider, Helen, at the Zoo, the animals suddenly became happy and contented. The lions snoozed all day long, the elephants enjoyed their baths, and the zebras ate their hay in peace -- all because Helen was spinning webs and catching flies.

But one day Helen's webs were swept away. The Keeper had the cages cleaned for the Mayor's inspection tour. Soon the flies were back again and the animals were miserable once more. But not for long...  

We are pretty nice to spiders around here. We often ignore them. Sometimes on purpose, but mostly because we are lax housekeepers. We never scream at them - unless they land on us. And we often give them at least a chance for survival of the fittest by putting them outside rather than squishing them.

But....this year, shortly after Christmas, when kids were home for the holidays, we had an invasion of ghostly, translucent, little white spiderettes.

They seemed to like the climate of the steamy upstairs bathroom the best. Billowy webs were spun in vain as there were no other creatures indoors to catch and eat.

Our usual rules went out the window as we pinched, flushed, and stepped on the poor little things with the rationalization that we were probably saving them from starvation.

"They must be confused about the seasons." we said to each other.  

We were amazed at the size of the hatch. Each time we evicted the web residents, new tenants found their way to the humid corners of the shower. This went on every day for weeks.

Then one day we were telling a friend about the weird nature phenomenon that was occurring here right in the middle of winter. "Christmas trees!", was all she said. 

And then we knew that the little brood was indeed seriously confused about the seasons when their egg sack came in on our balsam fir from the cold outdoors to a nice warm house.

Nothing is ever straightforward is it? We were totally at peace with the concept of cutting a live tree every year. It is part of our state's economy. We mulch it afterwards. Fake trees have their own environmental issues. No tree just isn't right. And now this.

We'll be doing a scan from now on as we string the lights and hang the ornaments. 

If we miss an egg sack it's likely the same scenario will replay itself . But, if one of the hatchlings ever were to write "Peace on Earth" in its web strung over the Christmas tree it will have saved all their little lives. 

* The basement is all yours. But if you, Mr.or Mrs. Spider venture to the upper stories it is at your own risk. The same goes for all you creepy centipedes.

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