I am an ardent believer that Mother Nature plays the long game. And she will always win. The IPCC report this week about the grim outlook of our planet due to human causes of climate change didn’t impact that view. Humans might shortly no longer inhabit this spinning blue orb in space, but nature will adapt, as she always does.
When we moved into this house in The Concello de Palas de Rei, it had not been inhabited for a long time. Yes, it was fully furnished with all the pieces required for modern life, but it had been largely abandoned after the previous owners had divorced. Normally, we wouldn’t have been made aware of this fact, but in Spain they include your marital status on the sales contract and the deed. The seller’s children told us upfront, their Mother is a Divorcée so we wouldn’t be surprised. Like it’s a scarlet letter.
The divorce meant that with no one living here, Mother Nature began to do her thing. She started taking over. Vines grew long. Trees became gigantic bushes. The house was damp and musty. And spiders multiplied. Then they multiplied some more.
When our things arrived from Valencia in those two trucks, we were surprised to be moving in to a house filled, not just with cobwebs, but fully occupied spider webs. And those occupants where big.
But we were undeterred. We have lived in places with scorpions, tarantulas. rattlesnakes and other things that will try to kill you. We could cope.
Living in the Northwest of the US, we have encountered arachnid foes before. I’ve been bitten by Brown Recluse spiders, and Wolf spiders. It hurts like hell and it’s a nasty business requiring an ER visit and a tetanus shot. But I had never lived in a place where they seemed to be coming, quite literally out of the woodwork.
And then, one early morning before the dew evaporated in the morning sun, I went outside here on the farm and noticed the millions of little webs on the surface of the grass. It meant I would never look down in quite the same way again. Because, upon close inspection it was a moving carpet, of spiders.
It seems we have many, many different varieties of spiders. When I pointed out the webs, and the sheer volume to Jeff he freaked out.
‘You still don’t want to spray?’
But my answer is a resounding NO! We need to learn to coexist. And spiders are beneficial. They kill other pests. Will I still call Jeff to take out some of the nastiest ones in the bathroom? Yes, I will. But I’m resisting spraying. Even after a couple of serious bites.
A couple of days ago, I was mowing the lawn. I LOVE mowing the lawn. It’s my zen place. Spiders aren’t the only critters in Galicia. We have two foot long lizards that live in large holes. As I am mowing, they perk their heads up and duck down just before the mower goes over. They look like small dragons. But I think they kill the wasp and hornets nest that are built in holes underground. I ran over a few last time. They’d been dug out with extreme prejudice. Then there are the snakes. I don’t like snakes. Big or small. Doesn’t matter.
So I was mowing from my lofty height. But we have hopping spiders. I had gotten cocky, thinking that, as I was on a riding mower I didn’t need to wear my rubber boots on a warm day. Wrong. I felt the bite before looking down and swatting the beast away. It hurt. Enough to make me drive the mower to the front door and head inside for some after-bite and an antihistamine. But it barely made a dent.
And now, after three days, I am up in the middle of the night with a seriously swollen ankle, and an ice pack. I will be smarter next time.
Jeff is having none of this. He’s problem solving, again. If you come to sleep in our guest room you’ll do so under netting hanging from the ceiling. And he’s rigged up four-poster netting over our bed so we sleep protected under a canopy sealed by overlapping sheets of material held together by magnets. It’s like we’re sultans in the Sahara.
But not to worry. I feel sure this bite will look better tomorrow. The itching is slowing down and the swelling with it. I just can’t let my guard down. Because we don’t live in the city anymore. And no matter what, we need to make peace with the natural world and learn to appreciate her, good and bad, because Mother Nature will always have her way.