There was a spider crawling along my ceiling wearing a backpack and panniers, and I took a photo of her from the floor so I could zoom in and find out who she was. If I’d been a squeamish sort I could probably have taken a picture of her through the window from the sidewalk out front. She was sturdy, is what I’m saying. A little on the hairy side, also. And she had a pretty good strut to her. My picture came out fuzzy on account of her struttiness but I got enough to determine she was a good old jumping spider. I don’t know where she is now.

It occurs to me that there are a lot of people who would want to keep tabs on such a spider, at the least, if they couldn’t keep a rolled-up newspaper or a can of napalm on her. There are people of my own acquaintance who would be rooted to the spot pointing until an assassin showed up drawn by the hyperventilating. If a spider like my hairy friend later turned up missing, these people would have to put their house on the market to get any sleep.

It’s pretty clear I’m not one of the people so afflicted. Right at the moment–and we’re in the season–there are cobwebs in the corners of all my windows. I can’t bear to vacuum them up because somebody’s still using them, I think, and if I’d built myself a house and someone knocked it down, I’d be upset, especially if I had to reconstruct a whole new one out of my own butt. Also, I’m lazy, and my mom’s not coming over.

My poor mom. She was very tidy. She lived with a man I’m also related to who liked bringing things home to photograph. Your snakes, your lizards, what have you. Sometimes they got away. Sometimes they got away in the house. Mom was an outwardly calm person, but chronic repressed heebie-jeebies probably took a toll on her. Dad took a lot of pictures of spiders although he didn’t bring them home for the purpose. Legend had it he was scared of spiders as a child and made a point of getting to know them in order to get over it. That was probably an apocryphal story but we all need heroes.

Anyway I’m not worried about my missing spider at all. I base this on finding them interesting and having not been harassed by any. There are probably a hundred big spiders in this house and I’ve been bitten maybe four times, ever. The bites are always on my fanny. I assume I roll over them in my sleep and you can’t really blame a small critter for objecting when substantially sat upon. I certainly don’t think spiders are making a point of being assholes.

What we’re afraid of usually doesn’t make much sense. We’re afraid to fly but we’ll tailgate at sixty miles an hour while checking our phones. We’re afraid of anyone who isn’t in our own tribe, just in case. Some of us are being instructed to be afraid of liberals now, possibly the least threatening, least organized, most hapless class of nice people on earth.

But the thought that we are looking at a mass extinction in another twenty or thirty years? And an unsurvivable climate in another fifty? Too big to grasp. Doesn’t compute. If we can’t solve it with a fly swatter or an AR-15 assault rifle, it might as well not exist.