This time of year, in Vermont, all the outdoors tries to come indoors.
People complain about the hordes of field mice that squeeze into basements, attics and walls, there to survive on cardboard and Christmas gift wrappings or quietly die and stink up the house for weeks. Me, I think field mice are rather sweet, with their big heads and bright eyes, and if they didn't poop everywhere I'd love to make a pet of one and keep it in my study, like Beatrix Potter did.
My complaint is about wolf spiders, the kind that lurk under things and rush out unpredictably. My horror of spiders goes back to the dawn of time. I remember as a tiny child being taken on stage after one of my father's orchestra concerts to meet the harpist, a pretty lady who played a few arpeggios for me and was dismayed when I ran away screaming that her hands on the strings looked just like spiders.
Alone at home the other evening, I walked into the attached garage on my way to tuck the hens in for the night. The moment I turned on the light a dozen black shapes scattered away from the door. They seemed to be coming mostly from under the doormat. Chills running down my spine, I rushed into the kitchen and grabbed my fool-proof bug spray, a mixture of water and dishwashing liquid. Unfortunately, the stuff is only fool-proof against ants, which it instantly kills. Wolf spiders it merely annoys.
My only other option being to set the house on fire, I chose to spray every spider I could reach and stomp them when they were half drowned.
Then I ran back inside and Googled "how to get rid of spiders." Turns out the internet is full of arachnophobes and people who want to help them. There were many solutions offered, but the only one I could implement right away was to add tea tree oil to my soap and water spray, which I did, and sprayed until the door between the house and the garage smelled like an Australian forest. Battle-weary, the surviving spiders and I retired for the night.
The next morning I went out and bought a box of borax and a can of Lemon Pledge--both remedies recommended on-line. Back home, I stood a safe distance away and instructed the man of the house to lift the doormat. A single spider was revealed, which he stomped on. After he swept the area clean, I sprinkled about five pounds of borax and sprayed the door with Lemon Pledge until it glistened.
I had almost finished when a big spider came rushing out of a crevice. I aimed a death ray of Lemon Pledge at it and it sort of crumpled, and I thought it was done for. But that night, on my way to the henhouse, I saw it again. I resprayed it, it recrumpled... I have not, thank heavens, seen it since.
I know that many of you gentle readers make it a practice of humanely catching spiders and releasing them into Nature. I can see you shuddering at my draconian tactics. I know that wolf spiders are mostly harmless, and live on bugs. I know that they are sacred to the Goddess.
But I can't help it. I cannot rest easy while they cluster blackly outside the door, scheming to join me in the living room. I would much rather have real wolves at the door--nice furry panting wolves, with slanty eyes and bushy tails. I would go out and, carefully avoiding eye contact, tell them firmly to go away. Or, if it was a really cold night, I might, after shutting Bisou in another room, invite them to come in and sit by the fire a while.