Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spider- Catcher Extraordinaire

What would I do without my daughter, Sophia 'Spider-Catcher'? I was just putting Leo to bed: “Pick up your dirty clothes and put them in the washing pile, and take that”, I pointed to a towel that lurked damply in a corner, “and put it in the bathroom.”

Leo did as he was told and a large grey tarantula (or 'migal', I think they're called here – anyway it was a couple of inches across and all legs and hair) landed from the towel with an almost audible 'plop' on the floor.

I don't like big spiders. Unable to stop, I once drove the pot-holed dual carriageway from the Golan Heights to Damascus in the dark, a large spider patrolling the van's windscreen in front of me. Ducking my head, I managed to keep it in sight, backlit by the headlights of oncoming vehicles, and only when we arrived at the Damascus campground could Barbie, my travelling companion, and I try and catch it. No way were we going to sleep with that monster. We lost it in the van's bookshelves, and ate dinner with a weather eye cocked. Only as we were about to sleep did it reveal itself, an inch or two from Barbie's nose. She, fortunately, was made of sterner stuff than I, and managed to corner it in a glass, slide stiff paper underneath it, and fling it out of the van's sliding door – only to have it jump on her and run up her arm before it disappeared forever.

Sophia is also made of sterner stuff than I and has several times come to my rescue when a big spider has found itself near me. They seem to like damp laundry, especially towels. More than once, while picking up the laundry by the back door, I have had a big migal fall out of the pile. Early one school morning two years ago, it happened just before everyone was supposed to get up. I screamed from surprise and pain (it was the period when my hip was giving me real gip, and the sideways twisting leap that I performed in the pre-dawn gloom was guaranteed to hurt). Sophia heard my yell and turned over sleepily thinking 'Alex will sort it out, he's nearer!' When evidentally no help came from the gallant Alex, Sophia dashed outside to find me crouched and groaning, pointing at the offending arachnid. She promptly dropped a laundry basket on it, earning a reprimand from me... From then on, like Barbie, she scoops them up tenderly with a glass and a sheet of card and carries them far from the house.

Last winter, while taking a shower when the kids were at school, I reached for the soap and thought 'That's odd: one of the kids has left one of the plastic spiders from the Early Learning Centre in the soap dish...' only when I touched it and it moved did I realise that the creature under my hand was, in fact, real. I continued my shower, gaze fixed on the soap dish, but when I returned to remove it, the spider had vanished. For the next week I conducted myself with great trepidation in the bathroom – carefully inspecting all towels, face cloths, soap, and such. But it never revealed itself again.

So this evening, when Leo and I froze staring at the creature on the floor, I yelled for Sophia and she came, glass and card in hand. This spider did not go gently, however. S/he seemed to fancy Leo's room and only after much persuasion with the card and a wand from a box of magic tricks would consent to be lured into a position where Sophia could lower the glass over her/his body without trapping the great hairy legs.

Sophia's language was colourful -- a steady stream of epithets mixed with cajoling encouragement. Study of Shakespeare seems to be paying off.

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