Bobbie Wayne's Blog

Short writings by Bobbie Wayne, writer, musician and visual artist. Her stories have appeared in The Ravens Perch, Intrinsick, SLAB, Blueline Magazine, and Colere literary journal.

We Are All Strangers

I have to space out my Fall housecleaning because I can’t do it in one day without neglecting all my other responsibilities. Our rooms are crowded with musical instruments and books. We have three harps, four guitars, a banjo, a mandolin and a violin which live in various rooms and have to be moved each time we vacuum or clean the floors. Our house has fifteen windows, all of which need cleaning, including the ledges which get full of dirt. Each window has one or more curtains, which must be washed and ironed before re-hanging. Our guest room was the last room in which I hung curtains when we moved here; consequently, I was tired and impatient installing the curtain rod hardware. Rather than use screws, I simply used the cheap little nails that come with the hardware. Each time I remove a curtain rod, the hardware pulls off and gets lost somewhere under the bed or the stack of instruments. 

Last week I decided to replace the nails with screws, which wouldn’t have required much effort except for running down two floors to the basement repeatedly for tools. After finally accomplishing my task, I noticed that there were not only cobwebs on the ceiling, but several spiders who had taken up residence. Hurrying downstairs I grabbed a small glass and a piece of cardboard in which to capture the spiders before they figured out what I was up to and sequestered themselves under the bed. I thought of the ten ladybugs I had captured several days prior and how long it took to trap and release them outside.

They had organized themselves into a huddle in a dark corner of our bedroom where the walls meet the ceiling. At first, I just saw a dark, irregular spot about the size of a silver dollar in the shadows. “Oh please God,” I muttered, “Tell me that’s not a huge spider.” Standing on a chair to get a better look, I realized it was a crowd of ladybugs, all piled up on each other like a football team. Getting them out without hurting them took half an hour. I would touch one with the edge of the cardboard to make it move away from the corner so I could trap it in the glass and transport it to the bathroom window where I would release it. Often, they would let go of the wall and drop to the floor where they were hard to see, but, eventually, I relocated all but one.

The first spider proved harder to catch; a real sprinter. Like the ladybugs, it dropped to the floor, fixing to race off. But I proved quicker with my glass and soon the spider was floating downwards from the bathroom window. The second spider had spun a rather haphazard web in a corner. The spider was balled up, peacefully napping until I touched its web. It awoke, only to fall into my waiting glass and was dispatched in the same manner as the other spider. I felt a little bad putting all these creatures outside, knowing the weather was getting colder, but I have enough trouble cleaning around all the instruments and don’t need to worry that I might vacuum up hosts of insects while cleaning. 

Outside, my garden provides winter housing and spring dens for plenty of uninvited rabbits. Each April, I must rake carefully so as not to expose baby rabbits to the ravages of my Border Collie. Thankfully, the turkeys who like to travel through everyone’s yards do not like my dog. They have never flown over  our six-foot fence. Coyotes have passed right beneath our front window, but they too have not breached our fence. The only animals we cannot make peace with are the yellow jackets who bother us in the summer. They land on our food when we eat outside, crawling around the rims of our wine glasses. Our dog is highly allergic to their venom, so I do not tolerate their presence. They are aggressive insects, attacking without provocation. I will trap them and kill them if they come near my family and me.

It is hard sharing territory with others who are unlike us, whether they be fellow humans or not. We share our land and our house with the animals who are here and were here before us whenever possible because we are all part of this environment. We must coexist, because the alternative is living our lives in a constant state of war.

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Monday, 26 February 2024