Each evening we observe her. Fine, silvery strands spun across the window corner – outside, of course. I’ve to shut the curtains, as A. won’t get that near. I’m giving her a name, to try and make her friendlier. I want something majestic, to add some nobility. Desdemona, Katarina, Esmerelda? A. rolls her eyes. Esperanza, I declare. She is a dark brown, with lighter markings marbling her body, and legs that are almost stripy. Araneus diademetus. An angulate orb weaver, which sounds quite magical. Her delicate legs conjure their patterns with pinpoint precision. Yet, one swipe of the handle could rip her home apart.
“Don’t open the window!!” she shouts, edgily.
I’ve tried to quell her fears since the original scare. I’d taken old wellies from the shed for her. We’d noticed the egg sack on the rim and leant in, talking Wilbur the pig and Charlotte’s ballooning babies, when big mama suddenly emerged: we all screamed. But A. kept screaming on repeat and when I turned she was frozen rigid, her expression sheer terror.
So I talk now of grace and engineering, food chains and nature. We admire Esperanza’s work. It is incredible in its simultaneous strength and fragility. We watch how she lurks then nips out to tend prey or nimbly reset and repair. She is queen of her tiny domain. They say we are afraid of them because their form and movements are so alien to our brains. And so we should all keep pushing, exposing ourselves, to the less familiar. Tomorrow we’ll watch, one step closer.