For most of my life, I was arachnophobic. I can trace it back to being five or six years old. I had always been fascinated by bugs and would let Daddy Long Legs crawl on me, but one day, my grandmother – in what I assume was an attempt to engage me with nature and the world – had me look at a spider in the bathtub through a magnifying glass. What I saw was a monster, and I became terrified of them from that point on. No matter the size, no matter the type, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with them.
Flash forward 25 years: I have two young children of my own, and the one thing I do not want to do is pass on my fear of spiders. So, I started small. I would see a spider across the room and say to the boys, “Oh look! There’s a spider. You should go look at it!” They grew curious and had no fear while I (wisely) kept my distance. Win-win.
However, over the last 11 years, this practice has led me to push my fear out of the way to make room for my own curiosity. I actually like spiders now. I will always save them and watch them as often as I can. I find their webs intricate and beautiful, and I can even say the same about them. Especially the fuzzy little jumping spiders. They are like little pets to me now.
Which leads me to yesterday. I was leaving work and noticed on the very edge of the window, a small bluish-black jumping spider. Not wanting it to get smashed when I rolled up the window nor have it blown away to wherever, I extended my finger and it jumped right on. However, I dropped it somewhere in the car, and as my interior is dark, I couldn’t find it and hoped for the best.
This morning, while driving to work, I wondered about my new little spider friend. I wondered if I might see it again. I wondered what I should name it. I wondered how it would get food. I wondered on this last bit for most of my drive. Do they eat anything other than insects? What would its food source be since it lived in the car? Had I done it a disservice by “saving” it?
As I walked back to my car to leave for the day, I mindlessly threw my bags in, organized my water, and connected the Bluetooth while the windows were down letting the steady breeze and sunshine in. Unexpectedly, a large swarm of thousands of gnats blew into my car, and I panicked and clamped my mouth closed as I rolled up the windows as fast as I could. Disgusted, I realized there were at least 30 gnats in my car, and hundreds on the exterior window.
As I drove towards the edge of the property, one of the gnats landed on a tiny stretch of web from the top of my windshield to the bottom. And from the dark edge where the dash meets the windshield, out popped my little spider friend. The gnat made its way to the glass, and that fuzzy little jumper kept an eye on it the whole time. Slowly, slowly moving until POUNCE.
And I realized: I had left 18 minutes later than I planned, but I was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time for my car to get caught in a gnat storm with the windows open so a food source could be provided to my little hunter.
I excitedly called my husband to relay this amazing story and asked him to help me name it. He texted while I drove home (which I received later when I was no longer driving).
“Its name is Cole”
“As in Gnat King”
And that is how I ended up with a spider named Cole that unknowingly proved to me – once again – the universe always provides.