A spider walked on my bare arm today, and it didn’t bite me. First I felt the web pop, then the gentle tick of running. Surprised, I flicked it off. The spider fled far from its torn home, striped legs flickering.
Long ago I taught myself not to fear spiders. Their webs hang between every tree in the forest. They are doorways, unavoidable; clear ribbons enfolding each branch. At first I would carefully deconstruct their work with a stick, only to see it rebuilt within minutes. The best method is to wave a twig blindly in front of you, so it clears away these invisible linens before they hit your face.
Of course, sometimes they surprise you. I’ve pulled shreds of spider webs out of my teeth, and plucked them from my eyelashes. Desperately, I have shaken my hair to rid spiders from my scalp. It can be annoying to itch away the fiber from your forehead; to feel it and grapple for it, but have it stay.
Those who fear spiders are usually not familiar with the forest. To move gracefully between webs, to spot the invisible lines even if the light is wrong, takes time to learn.
I apologize to the spiders as I demolish their masterpieces. Spiders are not so much obstacles as guardians. They watch over the forest, and scare away those who do not know it– those who do not love it.