"Where do you think you're going?" I asked her. She appeared to be struggling, as if not sure where she was or where she needed to go. I regarded her with pensive eye.
"Slippery in here, isn't it?" I continued. She seemed to pay me no heed, as if I were the least of her troubles. As opposed to the giant danger I truly represented. I watched her move back and forth. Gliding, really. Hanging from a thread I couldn't see but understood to be there.
I flicked some water in her direction. That got her attention. Instead of tentatively moving across the sheer face of the cliff, she suddenly understood that there was a new imperative. She acquired an immediate sense of purpose. Unfortunately there was little by way of shelter. A few vague early morning shadows flicked across the cliff, but offered no protection. No sense of safety.
She also seemed to struggle with the lack of foothold. Occasionally there would be a misstep, but she would somehow attach that thread to an unseen anchor and pull herself to relative safety once again. A few steps in one direction or another, then another fall. How she maintained her composure enough to reattach that thread time after time was beyond my capacity to understand.
I watched this aerial ballet for far longer than was prudent, of course. Such a simple problem, but I chose to make it more significant. After all, we are old friends.
The other day I had destroyed her web. No sign of her, that I could see, but the web needed to come down. They all did. It was my duty that day to make a general sweep of cobwebs that seem to accumulate quickly here in Orange County. So, down they came. When I wandered into the bathroom, there was that web I always saw in my shower.
The shower is, by the way, my exclusive domain. My wife has a wonderful, huge oval-shaped bathtub and will take a shower only under duress. The Woodyettes have their own bathroom, so the shower is mine. All mine. Well, mine and the spider's.
We first met three years ago. For those who may study our eight-legged friends, no, I have no idea whether this particular spider truly is the same one I encountered three years ago or some descendent. No matter. They all look alike to me.
Our relationship has always been one of considered mutual ignorance. I pay no attention to her, she pays no attention to me. But the web must go. It's visible. It tells me that some part of the house isn't truly clean, and so it must go. Out comes my duster and away goes the web. But it will return. I haven't killed the spider, and this is a nice dark corner most of the time. She will rebuild. I suspect that was her mission this morning. She was rebuilding, took one little step too far from the web, and...
In fact, this is the first time I've gotten a good look at her (I presume it's a female - don't they generally eat the males?) in several months. Most of the time, here in Orange County, it's the ants. I pay lots of attention to ants. I have killed, by my conservative estimate, enough ants to cover the national debt if you paid me one dollar per ant. The spider gets a few of them for subsistence, I suppose, but I kill the lion's share. Beyond that, we do not appear on each other's radars.
This is why this morning's encounter surprised me so. The silly arachnid never visited my shower before. Why today? Why venture right down into the cone of the volcano, so to speak? Then it hit me.
Ants. There haven't been any lately. Oh, they usually stay underground during the colder months, but rainstorms generally drive them above ground and into my house. We've had lots of rain lately. We've seen no sign of the ants. Perhaps friend spider is getting snacky.
Ah, well. Until the ants return (and rest assured they will return) the spider is on her own. Look, if she gets to looking really miserable, I'll put her out of her misery. I have no compunction. Truly.
All I ask is that she leave me alone while I'm in the shower.