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November 4, 2009 > Pat Kite's Garden: Spider tales

Pat Kite's Garden: Spider tales

By Pat Kite

My Toyota has a personal spider. It spins it wispy intricate web around my side view mirror. I never have seen this spider, but it must be rather teensy. My visiting daughter says it hides behind the car mirror. "Kill it!" she emphasizes. Why? "Because it's a spider!"

When she was a teenager, her bedroom would resound at midnight, whack, whack, broom whack, screech! No one could sleep until she was sure that itsy bitsy spider was in a zillion itsy bitsy pieces. But the now-grown daughters are in their spider-free abodes, and, from time to time, Mom has an indoor spider, or three. If spider gets a bit bold, I catch it in a jar and set it free in my garden.

Scads of spiders decorate my eclectic garden. Spiders do good things. They eat flies and assorted pests. Occasionally one traps a wasp. They spin beautiful webs. Each spider type is its personal web artisan. In the morning, glistening with dew, the webs shine with rainbow crystals.

"Will you walk into my parlour?" Said a spider to a fly. "Tis the prettiest little parlour, That ever you did spy" [Mary Howitt's The Spider and the Fly" from the 1800s.].

The word "spider" comes from the Old English word "spinnan," to spin. Spiders are here and there in this world. In the Bible, Proverbs 30:28, it reads:

"There are four things which are little upon the earth, But they are exceedingly wise" the ants, the rock-badgers, the locusts, and "The spider thou canst take with the hands, Yet is she in kings' palaces."

American folklore tells us it will rain if you kill a spider. In England, small spiders are called "money spinners," and must not be harmed. In Ireland, a spider on your clothes is a sign of good luck. Do you remember the childhood rhyme "Little Miss Muffet?

"Little Miss Muffet, Sat on a tuffet, Eating her curds and whey; Along came a spider, Who sat down beside her, and frightened Miss Muffet away."

There are reference rumors that a Miss Muffet actually existed. Dr. Thomas Muffet was an entomologist who admired spiders greatly. He had a daughter Patience Muffet. Did a spider scare her? Spiders seem to scare a lot of people.

Arachnophobia is among the most common of all phobias. Whack, whack, broom whack, screech! About 50 percent of women have a little or a lot of Arachnophobia. [Arachne=spider, phobos = fear]... men, much less, only 10 percent. I wonder why.

Spider love or loathe varies. The Chippewa Indians hang spider webs on the hoop of infants' cradleboards to catch any harm in the air. Do you have a "Dreamcatcher" in your home? The Native American-crafted "spider webs" will catch bad dreams before they get to you. Good dreams right now are planting spring flowering bulbs. You can do it through December. If you see a spider from your tuffet, say "hi" for me.

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