The secret behind pumpkin spice

The local drive-through java supplier (when I resort to buying a cup) has begun offering the “limited time” pumpkin spice coffee.  As hot as it has been, an iced latte sounded wonderful to me.

The past year, there was a lot of buzz on social media about pumpkin spice THIS and pumpkin spice THAT.  People seem to think that it’s too much of a good thing. Not me, and one product I’d like to see again is the pumpkin spice roasted almonds that I enjoyed during the winter!

But I digress.

I began to wonder why pumpkin spice is so popular and people look forward to it in the waning days of summer. When I returned home, I realized the truth.

Distracted by my delicious, aromatic beverage, I nearly ran into this:

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An orb weaver poised near the door, looking for an opportunity to sneak inside. Baby, it’s going to get cold outside – and a cozy winter abode is inches away!

Clearly the pumpkin spice is meant to fill humans with good feelings and distract them from the spiders lying in wait to invade our homes and lay their eggs at leisure. Sure, the scientific literature I’ve read says that spiders who live in houses become dependent on the human-created environment and can’t survive outdoors. But that sounds like a risk the little critters are willing to take!

Heaven knows I’ve had to deal with spiders all over the house the last few days. Not including that wolf spider who was on the ceiling just a moment ago but has mysteriously disappeared while I opened the blinds. Just thinking about where it may have hidden, ready to pounce… Yikes!

It does give me pause that there’s an archnophiliac conspiracy working in the food industry. (The all-black-clad, Halloween-loving baristas whom I mistook for gothy fashionistas are clearly among the spider-lovers!) But after that pause, I admit nothing calms me down like a sip of pumpkin-spiced latte.

I guess I’m doomed.

Insects

A cicada is singing in the maple tree. For those unfamiliar with its song, imagine an electronic buzz growing louder until it crackles and suddenly stops. Several years ago, a friend from the UK was enjoying a trip to Stratford, Ontario, when I identified the sound.  Because it was high on an electric pole, she had wondered if it were a problem with a transformer!

August is the time of insects: cicadas, crickets, and spiders.

Every time I work in the garden, tiny crickets leap out of my way. Where there are crickets, there are their hunters, which means I must stroll around the garden before I mow. I haven’t seen any snakes (yet), but yesterday I had to herd toads out of the grass.

Spiders are everywhere.

I suffer a mild case of arachnophobia, so this afternoon I found myself explaining to a neighbor that I yelped because I was startled, not hurt. It was a false alarm anyway: a daddy longlegs isn’t even a spider.*

However, the grass spiders have been weaving their webs throughout the yard, especially at the base of the maple. A bright-coloured orbweaver made the not-so-bright choice of my car’s side mirror as a website.  Let’s not even mention the wolf spider. If you’re really curious, check out this link: Spiders of Michigan. (I double-dog dare you.)

I hate zebra spiders and always have. Sure, they’re harmless, but they love hanging out by the back door and they jump! So if I see them, I’m on alert for them to hitch a ride inside the house.

Inside the House of Nonsense, I generally have three arachnid guests. The main ones are funnel spiders, since they enjoy human habitats just like house sparrows.

Then there are the shiny black spiders that chase down other spiders. Yes, you heard that right. One of the worst moments in my first year at La Casa de Tontería was an evening when I collapsed into a chair after a long day. Then I felt a tickling at my neck and, by the light of the reading lamp, saw a funnel spider run down my shirt. It was followed by a small, determined black spider.**

Yet I continue to live here.

Last but not least is the cellar spider, which I have nicknamed the Bathroom Stalker. These spindly-legged spiders are easy to miss until you’re nekkid and bathing. Then they come creeping down from the ceiling to enjoy the steam from your shower, or climb up the side of the tub to hang out near your head. Because nothing says “relaxing bath”like turning and gazing eyeball-to-eyes with a spider.


*The crane fly that Australians call by the same name, we Michiganians call “mosquito hawk” because of its resemblance to our state bird, erm, insect. They’re harmless but occasionally annoying, like fishflies (mayflies) and midges.

**I see that it’s called a “false black widow.” I haven’t seen a real black widow, nor do I want to see one.

 

La Casa’s Notice of Eviction

I was sitting on the end of the sofa, reading the news and enjoying a cup of iced coffee (black, of course). Then I noticed a spider dangling in midair. Did the usual sweep of the hand to break its thread – and it wavered.

When I moved forward to look closer, I realized it had begun a web encompassing the windowsill over my head, the lamp at my side, and the floor. I was in its web.

No, no, no, arañita. This is MY web, and you’re just taking up space rent-free. It’s time to join your enemy – a spider of a different species – that I confronted yesterday. And the squishable one before that. And the cloud of teeny-tiny hatchlings that were clinging to the siding near the kitchen window.

I don’t like this trend of friendly neighborhood spiders moving in. So as of today, every living thing that’s not me is hereby evicted. (Not you, plants. You can stay. Maybe.)