Fast-forward 15 years and it seems that what we're experiencing is a transition from biophilia to biophobia, a fear of living things. Especially the creepy-crawly ones. I recall summers spent sprawled out on a blanket in the grass, devouring books on loan from the local library. This past summer, in an attempt to avoid chiggers, I laid out in plastic chairs at the local public pool. It was still an intoxicating experience, but not quite the same connectedness you feel when lying in the grass, twirling your fingers around dandelions and feeling the earth beneath you. There were also droves of mosquitoes emboldened by our steamy, wet summer. No matter what time of day, we were prey.
Then, along came the arachnids. Anyone who's lived on the prairie can tell you about brown recluse spiders and identify a person within six degrees of separation who's been bitten. "BRs," my friend Carolyn likes to call them. I like to call them the stuff of nightmares because I'm not sure what else you call spiders that can live six months without food or water, and are small enough to be undetected yet have a venomous bite that can cause your flesh to decay.
I'm ashamed to admit I've squished many spiders this summer because of my fear. I hadn't really considered brown recluses until a friend (once removed) was bitten this summer and nearly required a skin graft. People kept telling me to look for a violin shape on the spider's back. I don't know who gets close enough to determine exactly what musical instrument is on a bug's back, but it's not me.
This move to a new home took that concern to a whole new level when the neighbor across the street from my new house—who has since moved—told me I had BRs. And then, for good measure threw in, "You have wolf spiders, too." Thanks, neighbor. Wolf spiders are harmless, but they look like tarantulas. And they jump.