Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I have a strange relationship with spiders. I don't care for spiders. I just don't. Beo likes to roll his eyes at his "Bug-hating-druid-wife", but that's just the way it is. I don't hate them, I just FEAR them. I can look at the whole situation logically and understand that the odds of them hurting me are incredibly small, but then the creeps take over and I just plain freak out. When I was in high school I decided that watching Arachnaphobia would help me confront and overcome my fear, and realize how silly it really was. Wicked bad idea. Didn't work. Our house is relatively spider free. When we first moved in we used to see a few of these strange flattish spiders that had their legs neatly divided into longer front legs and smaller back legs. I swear that I sometimes saw these spiders drop just as movement passed under them. Other than that, we mainly just have the spindly legged, tan, basement variety, and the light green little guys, which don't bother me overly much.

The thing is, I don't tolerate spiders in the house. I am an animal lover, yes, and a nature lover, definitely, but I don't do spiders in the house. I know some great people just cover them with a glass and take them outside. I am not one of them. I use the vaccuum whenever possible so that I can keep a good distance. Part of my fear just involves having them ON me and not knowing exactly where, so I have trouble approaching them with a shoe. They just freak the heck out of me. I've tried really hard not to pass this fear on to my kiddoes, and try to stay calm about it when they're around. So far, I think Sprout is good. Bird may have picked up some of my wariness.

Now spiders outside are another issue. It's defintely a love-hate thing, and I have to weigh my emotions. This is the second year we've had a family of--good gosh, I don't know--jumping spiders? On our front porch, usually on or around our front door. They're big beefy black buggers with yellow markings and FANGS. I've used the front door as little as possible this summer. Last weekend I saw a hatching of them. Fabulous. Sometimes the tiny ones get inside, and when you approach them they try to fight you. I kid you not.

Then we have the garden spiders. They're not really garden spiders technically, but that's what we call them. Last year they were mostly in the tomatoes, and they started to spread a bit through the back yard as summer wore on. This year I had five in my front gardens. They don't bother me too much because they're relatively large and stationary, so I just avoid them and keep my distance, and am grateful for them keeping the grasshopper population down. Problems arise when I check their web and they're not there. There's the possibility of them having gotten eaten by a bird, but often they've just taken up residence in a different section of the garden. I was happy with them being up front at first, but as they started moving around, I realized that I'd been neglecting my gardens terribly. I would work the perimeter of the bed, but as time wore on and the spiders got bigger, I kept my distance more and more. Now I admit it's to the point where I'm scared to go into my gardens, and that simply won't do. The time for cutting back is almost upon us, and I'll need to wade into those beds. Last year Beo removed them by stick to the back prairie area, but this year they're a lot further away from there. So how I'll handle it remains to be seen. This is definitely one area I haven't figured out how to overcome.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Things Work Out

I've been faced lately with some bad news about my family's health. So while I digest that and struggle internally, I'm just going to talk about garden stuff, and keep my mind outside.

The gardens and their accoutrements have been amazing me lately. The coneflowers and brown eyed susans have been riotous. I have been worrying over some of the beds which don't have much in bloom, and finally realized that I need to put the aforementioned color bursts into those beds. I did a number of splits and transplants. The great thing about these natives is that they tend to reproduce pretty well. Splitting is a little rougher, but it's something I need to work on anyway. It was a bit of a bad time to be doing transplants. The heat was awful and we were in quite a dry spell. I had to water the little guys every morning and evening to keep them from wilting terribly. The amazing thing is that I never had to turn on our water faucet. I deep watered the transplants for a week with only water from the rain barrels. Just when I'd run out, we had a brief but steady cloudburst. Beo hooked up the rain barrels so perfectly that even a small
rain collects a good amount of water. It felt amazing to be able to do all that watering guilt free.

I made a decision earlier on this summer to stop pulling out every errant sunflower that popped up around the birdfeeder. That turned out to be a good decision. We have deleriously happy little goldfinches eating free sunflower seeds on free birdflowers. One little sprout that I left grew into a 4 foot sunflower and nods it's big yellow head right outside our living room window. We had a number of sunny finches visit this flower, and amazingly they would let the kids get right up next to the window, and watch as the finch fed upside-down on the flower.

The prairie we installed has filled out with ox-eye sunflowers gone wild. (Pun intended.) Today I found two monarch caterpillars feasting on our butterfly weed. I know they should be on the milkweed, which we've left in plenty in the yard, but after trying to identify a look-alike, I am still pretty sure they're monarchs. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I'm still contemplating taking one of the little buggers in and seeing if it won't perform it's miracle in front of the kiddo's eyes. Regardless of what kind of 'pillar they are, it's neat to see things that belong in the wild in our gardens. It's been a bit of a rough road getting everything up and running, but it's all working out, and definitely paying off.