My sister despises spiders despite my best efforts to convince her otherwise. They have no hope of living if they enter her house, her car…anywhere in her presence basically.   This is unfortunate since a spider is only being a spider; doing what it was created to do.  But to my sister, being a spider means the death penalty.

To be fair, I feared spiders for a long time.  Spiders the size of pinheads would send me reeling. It was only until I adopted an unwanted tarantula I named Morticia that my view changed.  Why I chose to bring her into my house would seem a most unexpected decision but I wanted to get over my fear.  I had found that by facing a fear, it would bring the cure.  Rock climbing and hiking mountains took away the terror of heights so I chose the same route with spiders.  And it has basically worked.  I admit finding a black widow in my dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park did make for a sleepless night and wolf spiders still give me the shivers.  But no spider dies at my hand just for being. The female black widow I set free amongst trees and wolf spiders, well, I just try to maintain a distance.

I realized with Morticia spiders are individuals, thinking individuals, albeit simpler thinkers than we.  At first, I kept her in a small container, as one sees in pet stores, but it did not seem right since spiders move about in the wild and at some distances (tarantulas migrate and search for mates). I moved her into a ten gallon aquarium. I arranged some rocks to make a cave for her. When I put her in it, she stared at the entrance of the cave for three days, not moving. Finally, she went in, making a web that encapsulated her. After a time, I felt that ten gallon was not big enough either. She would climb the sides of the tank. I could tell she wanted to move around more. I let her walk on the couch from time to time. She seemed to welcome this, as when I put my hand in the tank, she wanted to climb up. I did wear a glove, mind you, as I respected her fangs – the size of cat’s claws.  I eventually got a twenty gallon long tank for her.  She stepped around in it at first but as soon as she saw the new rock cave, she stopped and stared at the entrance. It was three days once again before she finally entered and made it comfortable with her web.

Morticia lived to the age of ten and a half years, though she may have been older, since I did not know her background when I took her in.  For a tarantula, she was calm most of the time. She had her moments when she was agitated – usually when I was changing her tank bedding, at which time her front legs would go up – a sign “I am not pleased” as communicated by an arachnid.  Since her, I see spiders differently.

I also have looked at them more closely. What I see in spiders’ faces are humor and friendliness. Yes, they are predators and how they consume other animals is definitely not funny and not beautiful but I have found it surprising how their facial look belies their dark, although natural, feeding behavior.  I have shown my sister close-up shots but she has not changed her mind about the final judgment they face should they cross her path.  Perhaps by sketching, however, maybe someday, someone, even my sister will become aware and let the spider be.


One Sketch a Day, previous days…




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