One of the few benefits of the frosty temperatures of Indiana’s mid-winter must be the recess in the activities performed by common household pests. It seems that spiders, field mice and all other sorts of summer vermin tuck themselves in for the winter and leave us all alone! Surely, a few hearty souls still spin webs that appear only when we are entertaining the nosy neighbor or cranky in-law (even clean houses have cobwebs!). As a boy reading E.B. White’s classic, “Charlotte’s Web,” I would scan for special messages the cobwebs that always seemed to accumulate as the cool autumn days arrived. Alas, no words ever appeared.
Then as I matriculated to middle school, my interest in spiders became far more mechanical. The science teacher taught us about the arachnids’ incredible strength and dexterity. Many of us thought we knew it all from Marvel comics. But Peter Parker, even in his darkest days as Spiderman, lacked the intriguing way that most of these creatures feed. The web is not a home; in fact, it is more of an elaborate and well-planned tool used to collect dinner! I came to admire these creatures, in spite of their somewhat disturbing appearance.
Even today when I walk into a spider’s web, I thank God that I’m big enough to break free and that I am not about to be sucked dry by the proprietor of the silken prison. When I’m in a tough situation, I think of the lowly web. Am I really trapped or can I simply walk through the problem and brush it off? And what does the spider think when we enter his domain? Does he imagine that he’s set for life, or does he agonize over the amount of thread required to wrap a 200-pound dinner?