What has eight legs and hangs out in the tub?

#368 in a series of true experiences in real estate
June 2001, Hills Newspapers

Do you have a lot of spiders at your house? Boy, do I have spiders at mine!

Is there at least one spider in your bathtub almost every day? How about, over the tub, hanging from a thread? I’ve got them.

Cobwebs, do you have cobwebs? Trailing ones, gossamer ones, kind of furry cobwebs? I do.

When you walk in your garden, do you suddenly jerk back because there is a cobweb line across your face? On the windows, especially in the corners, are there webs? Under your eaves and where corners of the house meet – how about there?

They’re also in the geraniums and flat against the boxwood in my garden, like a fine shawl.

What do you do about the spiders? Leave them, sweep them, watch them?

Sometimes I vacuum them up, webs and the spiders. I feel bad though.

Sometimes when I find a spider in the bathtub or valorously struggling to gain a footing in the bathroom sink, I rescue him, lay a strip of toilet paper as a lifeline, then leave the room while he escapes.

My first husband revered spiders. If I called that I’d found one, he’d come right away and scoop it gently up in his hands, cup the spider, and walk him outside. I could never do that.

It isn’t that I’m afraid of them. I think it’s that I don’t want them to walk on my skin.

I think most spiders are quite wonderful. My favorites, for looks, color and charm, are those tiny, very tiny, red ones, the spiders the size of a grain of sand. One darts across my book when I read in the garden, and I watch him, wonder if his path is as aimless as it appears. Actually, I’m not sure the red ones are spiders. I can’t see well enough to do a leg count.

Are there spiders you like? Which? Roundish black spiders, the ones with short legs, I don’t like much. But the long-legged whitish ones that hang upside down are slow moving and probably friendly. There is, in the garden, an occasional gorgeous yellow spider to admire.

Better than tarantulas, one of which I saw at a young boy’s house; he kept it as a pet, very hairy, not pretty. The boy assured me the spider was harmless; he asked if I’d like to hold him in my hand. I declined, as I didn’t want to know what his fir felt like; also, I didn’t want to look at it.

When my own son was a little boy, he found spiders especially fascinating. I’d call him to come see new ones. He wanted, of course, to pick them up. He was only two or so then, and I didn’t know if he could be hurt, so I called U.C. Berkeley and asked to talk to a spider person. The man I was routed to said that it was probably a good idea to tell my son not to pick up spiders. Spiders are small and fragile, he said, and while very seldom harmful, it’s better to watch, but not to touch them.

There are open ceilings in some rooms in my house, always with cobwebs, although I seldom see spiders on them, probably due to spider size. The strings run from beam to beam, from ceiling to light fixture. Mostly, I don’t look up at the fuzz. But sometimes, I do look up, and then I get the broom and spend a bunch of time sweeping them down. I rub the wooly gray fuzz into a ball now stuck to the broom bristles and discard it, then stretch the broom up over my head again to collect more.

I usually do this on the spur of the moment when I don’t want to take the time to get out the vacuum cleaner or to drape a cloth over the end of the broom, both of which work better to attract the webs.

I suppose that the spiders (and there seem to be huge numbers in my house) begin again, probably immediately, to make new bridges to their next spot. It will take another month or so before I will disturb any of them.

Once I witnessed the most extraordinary spider event. On my front porch a mother spider laid her eggs in a sack. I just happened to walk onto the porch as the eggs burst into a golden yellow shower of teeny, newborn spiders, seemingly thousands of them.

I rushed to get my teenage son. I wanted him to see such a beautiful and new event. We stood on the porch together. I don’t remember what he said; maybe nothing. I do remember that I said, “Wow” quite a few times. Also, other things moms say: “Isn’t that cool? That’s fantastic!”

Have you seen baby spiders born, lifted by the air, flying?

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