Trading one life for another.

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Sometimes I have the internet, sometimes I don’t.  I have to check it from time to time, it’s like some kind of variable-interval reward schedule, which is something I learned in my psychology class this summer.  And as long as we’re talking about my psychology class, I might as well tell you that I had my final tonight and I’m pretty sure that I came close to acing it and am pretty confident that I got an “A” in the class, so hooray, there is still a bit of the high school brat in this head of mine.

I’m not going to try catching you up to what may have happened while I was offline; that becomes a very tedious game once a person decides to play it, especially a person whose internet connection is as precarious and unpredictable as mine.  The drunken tightrope walker, which way will she fall, if she falls at all?  No, instead I will just jump right in with a little story that happened yesterday.  It is a nature story, because July is the perfect time for nature stories.

Sunday, yesterday, was a glorious day, and I’m not saying glorious to be flashy, it really was.  That’s the only adjective that could describe it.  Words like “Glorious” exist for a reason, that reason being yesterday.  Anyway, I spent a pie-slice of this glorious day sitting out on our deck doing my last bit of psychology homework, and in this context even that became less of a chore.  From time to time I would glance up from my text book and take in a bit of my surroundings.  I think I wrote here sometime last summer that our deck feels a bit like a tree house because it is on the second story, has a roof, and is surrounded by, well, trees.  So I’m not sure if it brings me back to my tree climbing childhood or what, but from this perch everything about summer seems heightened, or inflated, or magnified, or whatever the appropriate adjective would be.  Glorious.  During one of these breaks my eyes drifted to a spider web in the corner.  I could see a beetle was tangled in its strings, working frantically to free himself.  Within seconds it became clear why: a spider about half his size was lashing out at him, trying, I’m sure, to kill and eat him.  This was highly disturbing, if only on a micro-level.  I tried going back to my text book and leaving nature to its brutal self, but it was as if the screams of this tiny beetle were lashing at my ears.   Absolute terror.  I put myself in that beetle’s shoes, I put myself in that web, and imagined myself tangled up helplessly with a hostile arachnid thrashing at me.  Not so glorious.  So I got up out of my chair, I wish I could say calmly, but actually my heart was racing.  Racing over a beetle.  I picked up a twig that was laying near the scene of the crime and I scooped the beetle right out of the web.  This took a couple tries because he was pretty tangled up.  I felt like I was rescuing a child from the jaws of a bear.  With shaking hands I set him down at the edge of the deck and used the twig to scrape the remnants of web from his back, and seconds later the beetle had scampered off, alive but shaken.  He would be more careful in the future.

Satisfied, I sat back in my chair.   I was a hero, and the sun was shining.  Before returning my attention to my text book, I glanced back at the spider web which was now blowing around in the breeze, in shambles, collateral damage.  The tiny spider that had moments earlier seemed vicious and hateful was now scrambling around desperately, trying to repair his home, robbed of his hard-earned meal, robbed of his very identity as a spider.  I had taken it from him, I had left him humiliated and hungry.  I sunk down in my chair and felt badly for the spider, but it was too late.  I was just another human who had disrupted the natural order of things.  Glorious. (Said this time with irony.)


  1. Posted July 23, 2008 at 8:17 pm | Permalink