Of all the spiders to have come crawling into my life since moving house, none have affected me so profoundly as this one.
He is known to his people (I’m almost certain) as Ivan the Great. Not much is known of where he came from, only that he fought his way up from the filth and weeds at the foot of the garden’s rotting Wendy House, to forge a life for himself amongst the fertile branches of the rose bush overhead.
From those humble beginnings, Ivan made himself a king. He built a palace of silk from where he surveyed his kingdom like Simba looking out over the savannah. He had good shelter from the rain, his pick of the fattest flies east of the Mersey, and first option on the moths and butterflies that passed his way. Life was good.
That would have been enough for most spiders, but not Ivan. He wanted something more from life than fat flies and exotic treats. He dreamed of bigger things.
Yet I didn’t know just how big those dreams were until the other morning, when I looked out the window and saw him floating in the middle of the yard. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but Ivan had built a web spanning from a wall on one side of the yard, up to the rose tree branches hanging overhead, and across to the ground on the other side of the yard.
Overnight he had turned the entire yard into one giant trap. ‘Why settle for flies and moths,’ he must have thought, ‘when I can have birds and cats and people!?’
I stood there watching him as he watched next door’s cat stumble towards his web, and I felt inspired. Here was a creature determined to reach for the stars, unwilling to settle for anything less. If he could chase his dreams, why couldn’t I?
It didn’t take long for the answer to arrive. It came with the rain, which washed Ivan’s web away and swept him off to the nearest grid.
Because life is a bastard, that’s why.