We have spiders in our house.
Normally when we discover arachnid tenants, they die in gruesome ways. My father has a strong dislike of spiders, and often when he finds one, if there’s not a vacuum handy to suck it up with, he’ll call someone else to kill it. I tend to be fonder of creepy-crawlies, but if I see one of those miserly spiders that’s all brown legs, or one of those fat black Shelob-like ones (how those do crunch when you squish them), or a wolf spider, I kill them without qualms.
But in our first house, little jumping spiders used to live on my windowsill in the summer, and they were very friendly — they’d wave their front legs, or come up onto my hand when I said hi, and never bite. They never got very big, either. We moved to the country and found that the jumping spiders get a lot bigger here. They also tend to be a lot more shy.
A couple of weeks ago my father was going to open the drapes in the morning, when he felt quite certain that there was a Jertain in the curtain. A rather large jumping spider was sitting on it, looking at him. He left the curtain closed.
Putting the spider out wasn’t much of a solution, because there’s a hole in the door that is quite big enough for him to come back in. So the mature specimen of Phidippus Audax (audax being scientific Latin for bold) has lived in the area of the sunroom since then, catching flies and eating them and dropping the empty ones on the floor.
I wanted to call him the Jertain, because after all he does live in the curtain, but Olivia was equally certain that he is Oskar, Appreciator of the Strange, Neat, and/or Yummy. (If it comes to that, we don’t know with certainty that he’s a he at all. We’ll find out if he builds a nest in the spring.)
A day or two ago, some other member of my family made a discovery. A smaller jumpy had made his home on our octagonal window by the stairs (a favourite place for bugs). He turned out not to be quite as bold as Oskar, though perhaps that will change as he gets used to us.
The question came up of what to name him? Oskar’s name is pretty much settled, which is a pity, because Thing One and Thing Two would fit the pair well. In the end we went with Minus, which is the word used for Thing Two in the Latin translation of The Cat in the Hat.
How long can two spiders, however fuzzy and friendly and even helpful, in their own small way, coexist with four humans, one of whom is bent on efficiency and cleanliness, and another of whom is a bit afraid of them? We’ll find out.
I like Oskar and Minus myself. Does that make me a villain?