For the last year now, I have been living in a house in the country. I haven’t been living here alone. I’m not referring to my fellow humans. I’m not even referring to the four-legged furry creature who seems to want to hang around with us, especially when she’s hungry. I’m not even talking about the rabbits, mice, shrews and squirrels we see in the garden. Nor am I referring to the odd duck or pheasant. I’m talking about creatures with more than four legs, mainly, those with eight legs. The spiders.
I have never before lived somewhere so beset by spiders. They are everywhere. There isn’t just the odd one in each room. There are tens of them in each room. There are big ones, and little ones, but mostly big ones. And they weave their homes all over the ceiling, the beams, between pieces of furniture, and sometimes against things that get moved quite often such as the box of cat food or a can of deodorant in the bathroom. They work quickly. If you stand still for long enough, they will weave their home using you as a post. These spiders are mostly big. There aren’t many tiny scurrying ones. They are mostly the sort that have legs that go up before they go down.
My weird thought is: do these creatures naturally like old houses? Or is it because the house is in the countryside? Is it the presence of beams that attracts them – natural building blocks for their webs? Or do they, on some level, just enjoy making an old house appear spooky? It is an old house, a 17th-century farmhouse I believe, so it needs to look spooky. It comes with the image.
I’ve lived in old houses before though, in towns and in the country. I’ve also lived in modern houses. But this is definitely the most spidery house I’ve ever lived in.
I don’t mind the spiders. Is it strange that they don’t scare me, not even remotely? If I had a phobia, I could not live here. My equivalent would be living in a house with balloons on the walls in every room. I couldn’t live in that house. So I understand why someone with a phobia of spiders would struggle to live here.
Every so often, I go around with my trusty hand-held dyson or a feather duster to ‘de-cobweb’ the house. However, I really don’t enjoy this. I read Chalotte’s Webb as a child and I still feel as if I am destroying homes and hours of work, as well as destroying objects of beauty. Not only that, the spiders help keep the fly population at bay here and we are as beset with flies as we are with spiders having lots of cattle and water buffalo nearby. So by my destroying the cobwebs just in order to make the house look ‘tidy’ and ‘clean’ I am destroying the delicate balance of its natural eco-system and causing myself to be more annoyed by flies? I only do it for appearances sake and to stop the children moaning about the creepy crawlies. I don’t mind the floaty, spooky netting that hangs above me as I sleep. I like it. But, I do it anyway. I don’t move the spiders themselves. I guess they just keep building new homes after I’ve left with my dyson.
Perhaps our next house should be a new build and I wouldn’t then have the guilt. I’m not sure I can do that though. I am too much in love with old houses, spooky or not. I think I want to live with my eight-legged friends. They keep me company.