A Wolf In The Woods

By Beck

So the other day I was casually reaching for the kitchen tap and nearly grabbed A GIGANTIC WOLF SPIDER THAT WAS LURKING ON IT. And I will immediately digress to say that wolf spiders are PERFECTLY named – they’re so hairy and lulking and frightening! Good job, spider-naming person!

Anyhow. Giant spider, right near my hand. And I’m not frightened of spiders but that gave me the heebie-jeebies. Still, we have a Let’s Be Kind To Our Mosquito-Eating Friend, The Spider policy in our house, so I gently herded him into a cup and The Boy scampered off to release him into the woods.

Fairy tales are funny things, those old stories. The woods are full of trolls and wolves, the flowers are full of brambles, and the candy house means danger. If you read the older fairy tales, they’re horribly, disgustingly violent – The Little Mermaid kills herself and turns into foam, the ugly stepsisters chop off their toes. “Here is the world,” they say to kids. “It’s a scary place, but you can get through it if you’re brave and tough.” Or maybe they say “THE WORLD IS FREAKING INSANE”, I dunno. I don’t read the old versions to MY kids.

Ask any kid who lives near the woods, though, and they will tell you that the woods ARE full of danger. Most of the kids around here have taken multiple classes on how to survive being lost in the woods and my daughter’s school has BEAR drills. And we’re modern enough people with cell phones and ATVs, so imagine how scary the woods would have been in the days before street lights, in the time when the shadows were deeper and darker.

“Where did the spider go?” I asked my son, when he returned from the edge of the woods, glass in hand.
“It ran into the brush,” he said, and the two of us stood and looked at the deep dark trees, where the spider was now in its place, in the mysterious, unknown heart of the world.

11 Responses to A Wolf In The Woods
  1. John Ross
    August 13, 2010 | 6:55 am

    Yup, scary stuff in the woods. Funny(or sad) thing was, growing up in/near woods in small town Kansas, I was way more afraid of the stuff(people) IN town.

    Always had a soft spot for wolf spiders – active hunters, ya know.

    great post, as usual.

  2. suburbancorrespondent
    August 13, 2010 | 7:32 am

    Spiders – gah!

  3. Louise
    August 13, 2010 | 7:50 am

    I love GK Chesterton’s essay on fairy tales: http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/introduction/gkchesterton.html

    He also has a great quote about fairy tales being more than true – not that they tell us dragons exist (because we already know they do), but that they tell us how to defeat the dragons. Or something like that.

  4. De
    August 13, 2010 | 8:07 am

    I’m pretty glad that where I live wolf spiders are just about the largest species we encounter, because in my book, they are HUGE.

    This summer we did a lot of off-trail searching in the woods for geo-caches, and I disturbed a lot of spider webs.

    The woods are not too extensive in Central CT – the most real fear here is of other people.

  5. Nicole
    August 13, 2010 | 9:58 am

    The old fairy tales are pretty freaky. I remember reading an old book of my grandmother’s and just being totally freaked out. I think it was Rose Red and Snow White. Eeek! Not Disney-fied. But the other day I read a Disney version of Peter and the Wolf to my kids and I was totally confused because I thought it ended much more violently than “then Peter caught the wolf and they took it to the zoo.” Huh.

  6. Jenifer
    August 13, 2010 | 11:35 am

    I would drape a python around my neck before I touched a Wolf Spider. We used to see them on the dock sometimes at the cottage we rented when I was a kid. I never put my towel or set foot on that dock after that.

    You are brave! I would have totally tried to smush it up, but probably would have chickened out and put a cup over it and left it there until hubby came home.

  7. Mel D.
    August 14, 2010 | 12:25 am

    You wrote a post! It creeped me out a little, I will admit. But I just finished a book I had been reading about a woman on the plains who died in her 30’s, her children still young, when she fell from a horse drawn carriage. It was set in the 1870’s and it creeped me out a little too.

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