Along came a spider at Brownspur
Published 11:55 pm Saturday, September 10, 2011
We take great pride in many of our natural and unnatural flora and fauna out here at Brownspur, and one of the things our place excels in is growing spiders.
Take the screen porch, for instance: Betsy twice a year, at least, proclaims a household cleaning day, which often stretches into weekends, or maybe even weeks. “You clean the screen porch,” she orders. I say, “Yes, Ma’am,” and go to it. I’ll take the wicker furniture out to the patio, wash it with the hose sprayer, maybe even touch it up in places with spray paint, chunk all the cushions out to freshen in the sun, then go in and sweep the porch, even washing the brick floor down with the same hose sprayer. I mean, that sucker will sparkle!
Then she’ll inspect, like a commanding general, and invariably declare, “You didn’t get the spider webs down. Do that!”
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Both of us have been bitten by brown recluses, and treated for them, although I mistook a spider bite for fire ant welts once, and had a place above my knee rot out, about the size of a fifty-cent piece – yes, Virginia, the Guv’mint used to make 50-cent pieces, larger than a quarter, smaller than a silver dollar. I’ve occasionally seen black widows, but not around the house — matter of fact, the brown recluse bites were accumulated outside.
But what we mostly have around here are the harmless kind, especially the beautiful little green-eyed jumping spiders. When one’s home has twelve-foot ceilings, there are a lot of places one cannot reach, or even see (at my age) which may harbor spider webs. Even the screen porch.
The one bug that we have more of than any other species is mosquitoes, of course. This is the Mississippi Delta, after all. We’re famous for skeeters.
And what makes up 95 percent of the diet of an average Delta spider? Skeeters!
This argument is invariably lost on my Bride, and I am forced to take the broom or Webster and discombobulate the spiders’ webs, at least removing from sight the evidence of their residing, for a couple of days anyway. But she knows that I’m secretly rooting for the arachnids.
However, there is one problem with cultivating a home relationship with spiders: spider spoor.
I’ve been fortunate enough to see a half dozen panthers in the wild, and at first excitedly reported my sightings to the game and fish folks, only to learn that, in the experts’ opinions, I had only seen a puddy tat. If you intend to prove that you have actually seen a panther in Mississippi, you must bring in its hair, or a cast of its track, or — ahem — its scats, or spoor. No, they do not sell panther pooper scoopers anywhere locally, anyway.
However, spider spoor is available locally — that is, if one can figure out how to get it off of the floor under the webs without taking a section of floor up.
We couldn’t take a chance that the levee would hold during the Great Flood of 2011, so we moved upstairs with all of the antiques and valuables back in May. After the levee held, praise the Lord, we were preparing to move back downstairs when Betsy had this great idea: “Let’s refinish the hardwood floors, do a little painting and wallpapering, just brighten up This Old House while we have the chance,” she suggested. I concurred, but then had this raging infection that sent me to bed for over a month (I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you), so we are still unstressfully working on renovations out here at Brownspur.
I was put in charge of eliminating the spider spoor from the hardwood floors in advance of the floor refinishing. I tried everything short of dynamite, to no avail. Major sweat, I mean, in 100 degree heat!
Then I asked Betsy.
Clorox Wipes, guys. Takes it right up. No more spider scats, or spoor!
Robert Hitt Neill is an outdoors writer. He lives in Leland, Miss.