The last few days, I've been thinking about animal stories. As part of the world around us, they figure in as characters in their own right in a lot of stories -- Aesop's Fables, The Odyssey (check out this article about the monsters in the Odyssey from the BBC!), and countless mythologies.
Because we live where we live in the middle of a bunch of trees, in the Pacific Northwest, we get a lot of spiders August through early October. In late August, sometimes our yard is coated in webs. You might not notice it so much in the afternoon, but in the morning when the dew is still out, the webbing really stands out eerily. And sometimes in the early evening when the sun hits just the right position, you can see all of the webs that are strung between tree and fence, or tree and tall piece of grass, etc. They build webs across door ways, on screens, and windows.
Horrifyingly, the big Giant House Spiders (yes, there are pictures on the linked page) live here too. On the upside, these are the spiders often used by arachnologists for spider education and phobia reducing because they are incredibly gentle and prefer not to bite (and their bite is harmless to humans and pets). These are also the spiders that compete with the also local hobo spiders which do bite and whose bites can be quite harmful (though it seems that there is some debate on that topic). And of course we have other spiders of all sizes including the beautiful orb weavers.
I just had to go look at spiders of Washington and I think I've seen most of these around here, which makes sense because they're local spiders. They are mostly harmless, but something about the way they move just brings out the shrieks involuntarily when they're big.
Spiders are such fascinating creatures... from a distance!