I sometimes like to run in the woods behind our house. There's a nice dirt road back there that the paving company next door made so they could have room to store spare dirt and gravel. I'm not trespassing, though. My great-uncle owns the company, and he lets his family roam all over his land. I've gotten lost in those woods more times than I care to remember, with all sorts of people.
But lately I haven't been getting myself lost. I've stuck to the well-defined paths instead, in an attempt to reclaim some fitness into my life. And for a few weeks I had myself a friend and cheerleader who never discouraged me and who was always waiting for me to return home.
I noticed a garden spider hanging out on the pumphouse one day as I was setting out. I loathe spiders. They terrify me. There is nothing on earth more frightening than a spider, at least to me. No matter how big or small they are, I am sure they have evil intentions and are out to murder me brutally in my sleep. Apparently, I am not the only one who feels this way.
But for whatever reason, I took pity on the spider that day. Maybe because it's pathetic little web was only a foot off the ground, or because the cold wind was tossing it back and forth. Or maybe because it was so freaking huge that I was too afraid of it to try to kill it. I don't know.
What I do know is that it became my silent, mostly unmoving running partner.
I found myself looking for my spider companion every day, just to see if it was still there. This may be because I was nervous about letting it live, and wanted to be sure it hadn't left it's spot, for fear that it would come after me inside the house.
But each time I set out for a run, and each time I came back, I always checked for the spider.
After a few days we started playing games together. I would drop a small leaf on it's web and it would chase it. I called it "Spider Fetch," but I'm not sure the spider liked being tricked like that. I'm sure it expected a big juicy bug. But you know what? If spiders became vegetarians, I might like them more. I'm sure they could learn to enjoy a nice green leafy diet if they really tried.
I haven't seen the spider since the great pumphouse wreck of '11. Believe me, I've looked. I'm certain it holds a grudge about the incident. The only question is where it has relocated to...and if it will visit us indoors before it gets too cold for it to live.