September 7, 2012

Daddy Long Legs

I've already told you that the house Rob and I are sharing for the year is super cool.  I've set up a beautiful studio, have taken advantage of the extensive counter space and gadgetry available in the kitchen, and love the afternoons I'm able to curl up on the front porch with a good book and a cool drink.  From here it's only a five minute walk (or less) to the gym, the physics building, the college's observatory and planetarium, Oberlin's free art museum, the public library, and a host of restaurants that range from yer reg'lar ol' corner Subway to the trendy Feve (where--as a side note--last week I had the most delicious hamburger I've ever had in my life.  The burger itself was juicy and delectably flavorful. Topped with sun-dried-tomato pesto, chévre, lettuce, and tomato, it delivered an unforgettable burst of goodness to the taste buds).

One of the only problems I've confronted with this otherwise luxurious living arrangement, is that we have to share our space with an astonishing number of cellar spiders, or Pholcidae...more commonly known as daddy-long-legs. Just to be clear, the creatures we always referred to as "daddy-long-legs" while I was growing up (and swore possessed the most potent venom of the spider kingdom, and could kill you if their jaws were only big enough), were actually not spiders at all, but belong to an order of arachnids called harvestmen. The cellar spiders I run into here are gorgeously dainty, but hugely sprawling critters that build their messy webs in every possible nook and corner they can find...especially (and appropriately enough), in the cellar.

Whenever I go downstairs to do laundry or add newspaper to the recycling pile, I have to dodge clusters of webs on every stair corner and paddle my way through curtains of hanging silk that dangle languidly from the low ceiling.

Just the other day I had a more direct confrontation with one of these balletic beasts.  In order to prevent mildew, we've been asked to leave the front washer door open after every load. On this occasion I pulled back the handle and discovered the biggest specimen I'd yet encountered perched within a web that filled the washer's front opening. It's nice that these spiders are not particularly aggressive. I gently shooed this one away and, as he tiptoed off upon eight transparent willowy limbs, cleared away the remnants of his gauzy lair.

I suppose I should accept at least part of the blame for our infestation. As you may remember from my dealings with cockroaches in Evanston, I really dislike killing things...even those typically considered to be creepy and/or thoroughly disgusting. That I'm not a vegetarian (and so completely relished that hamburger the other night) is a glaring hypocrisy.

So far these spiders haven't caused me any real harm. I've even wondered from time to time what other pesky critters they may be keeping at bay. I suppose I'm getting used to our gangly neighbors. I'll just have to watch where I'm reaching and keep inspecting my shoes before putting them on.

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