When I climbed into my car this morning, there was a small spider sitting on the outside of my windshield. I left him alone, figuring he’d tumble off once I picked up the slightest speed.
But he stayed on. As I sped up, he hunkered down to face the wind. I couldn’t fathom what was holding him on, yet there he remained. Every time the car would slow, he’d adjust a little, maybe turn around, but once the speed picked up he’d resume the position, head to the wind like a racehorse jockey.
I wondered: do spiders blink? Because I don’t imagine that the wind in those multiple eyes could be very comfortable. Then again, it was probably better than having it blown up your butt.
As we neared the highway, I began to worry. The speed limit is 55, and there was no way he could withstand that velocity. There was also no way for me to save him. Not if I wanted to get to church on time…
The spider had suddenly occupied the whole of my attention, but I didn’t try to name him. It seemed awfully trite, like naming an animal you’re about to eat.
And then just before I sped up, he turned. Oh no. I couldn’t. Not with him staring at me just before…you know.
I knew very well the only reason I was tolerating this spider was the pane of glass between us. What was I going to do – pick him up and bring him to safety? I shuddered at the thought.
The car began to pick up speed. He flattened himself, but still held on. Every once in awhile, a leg would fly up, but with agonizing determination he pulled it back down and still held on.
A mile. Two miles. The draft began to lift his abdomen, and I was suddenly nauseated by the thought that I was hurting him.
Don’t be ridiculous! Spiders can’t feel pain!
But there he was, a hapless passenger on my windshield, fighting a losing battle to hold his ground. It was Sunday, God’s day. Earth Day to boot. And I could barely believe what I did next.
I slowed down.
For a minute, he didn’t move. Was he dead? Don’t be silly; spiders’ legs curl up when they die. I worried. And then he moved, picked himself up and resumed his jockey position. That’s the way we rode (we, she says) nearly all the way to church.
As my car slowed to a crawl in downtown traffic, he began moving further up the windshield and disappeared from my line of site. I pulled into the parking lot, found a spot, and as I was climbing out (I kid you not) I looked for the spider. There he was, in the crevice between frame and door.
Happy Earth Day, Mr. Spider.