Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.
~ Albert Schweitzer
As a compassionate citizen, I do my best to respect fellow earthlings, allowing them their own lives, and the space in which to live them. I recognize that this attempt at harmonious coexistence requires compromise and accommodation of others’ preferences, needs, and idiosyncrasies – and sometimes requires active intervention. An example is my resolution to living in the presence of garden snails, sparing them from harm, the story of which is related in my post, “Snail Relocation Project”.
I have a couple rules when it comes to living with spiders. One regards their safety, the other my own. I essentially make the effort to stay out of their way, particularly when I encounter them in their own natural habitat, and if they happen to be in mine, I evaluate the situation using those rules. Rule 1: If the spider seems to be at risk of injury due to its current location, either by the activity of we humans or that of our feline cohabitants, I make the effort to remove it to a place out of such harm’s way. Rule 2: In respect to my own safety and comfort, if it appears there’s a likely possibility that the spider might end up on my person, specifically entangled in my hair, I also immediately take steps to remove it. On occasions when I discover a spider in some remote corner, unobtrusively lying in wait for some stray insect prey, I might very well just let it be.
On a recent night, as my husband and I retired to bed, our pillow talk was interrupted by my discovery of a spider directly above us, at the highest peak of our vaulted ceiling. No way to reach it without a very tall ladder. No way to sleep with it there. With a sigh of resignation, my husband fetched the long-handled pool-cleaning net from the garage. We stripped the comforter off the bed, down to the white sheets, so we could easily spot the spider if it landed there. My 6’ 3” hubby had to stand on top of the bed, arms and pole fully extended to reach the ceiling. It was an exercise in balance and finesse to gently nudge the spider, now on the move, and get it to drop into the net without injuring it. I stood below, holding a repurposed plastic beverage mix container, prepared to capture the wayward visitor. What a scene — at 1am, no less! The two cats who’d already made themselves comfortable on the bed, ready for their customary pre-sleep petting, had scattered, but sat nearby, watching with apparent curiosity — and perhaps anticipation of receiving a new “plaything”.
I held my breath, stifling gasps, as I watched the frame of the net come perilously close to the spider’s delicate legs. In a moment’s flashback, I recalled prior spider-rescue attempts that ended in fatal injury to the spider when it suddenly moved into the path of the trapping device. Despite the accidental nature of the killing, occurring during a life-saving attempt, I felt terrible for failing, actually blurting out an apology aloud to the hapless victim. I also recalled the long-ago image of my mother, when we first moved to our house in the as-yet-untamed hills, calmly scooping a fist-sized tarantula into a 1-pound coffee can.
On this night, our efforts were successful, THANKFULLY! The spider was netted, and I carefully guided it into my container, then released it in a corner of the yard, a location much more suitable for all of us. I watched as it crawled away into the darkness, confirming that it was intact. My hubby, however, didn’t come out of the ordeal quite as uninjured as the spider, as he banged his leg during his dismount. He gets the Compassionate Citizen Purple Heart! And my everlasting gratitude.