I came out of the house in the dark, early one morning and almost immediately was assaulted by the feeling of a net of strings that I couldn’t see, but felt as though they would never go away.
What’s up with the recent rash of spiderwebs seemingly everywhere?
If a neighbor could have seen me, I must have been quite the interesting spectacle, twisting, turning and almost convulsing as I grasped at unseen restraints. I have to laugh even now, just thinking about it.
Some said recently that it was nature’s way of spreading the species, like a sticker with a pod inside that clings to a dog’s coat or seeds eaten by birds in one place and passed through with natural fertilizer in another.
Others even likened it to the upcoming Halloween holiday season, as though the countryside was going through its own spooky transformation.
It reminded me of growing up in Northern Virginia outside of Washington, D.C.
I was a paperboy and delivered the Washington Post in the morning and the competition newspaper, what was then the Evening Star, in the afternoon.
I worked very hard on several routes in the morning and in the evening, but Sundays were the worst, because both papers had a Sunday morning edition.
So I had to deliver those huge editions so large that an elementary school-age child could only carry about five at a time. I dragged my wagon stacked high on several trips through the neighborhood to deliver about 300 of them from about 4 a.m. to noon — nonstop.
So, heading up to the houses with my arms full of newspapers — each one containing the amount of text of about two Bibles — I frequently hit spiderwebs too.
It didn’t take long for me to figure out that the little critters like to stretch between the trees and bushes. I’m still not sure whether they were trying to catch me or insects.
But it really didn’t really bother me, until one morning I just casually pulled off one web and felt something rather large crawling on my neck.
I slapped at it and it bit me pretty hard. It hurt and turned into a knot, about the size of a large marble just under my skin.
I’m glad I hadn’t read about the urban legend stories of spider bites turning into a nest of tiny baby spiders only to grow and erupt later with thousands of creepy critters.
I wouldn’t have slept for a week or more with worry.
It eventually went away, but left me with a healthy respect for the spiders, because I knew I was lucky. It could have just as easily been a highly poisonous variety.
So I practiced — until it became a habit — carrying several newspapers under one arm and raising the other arm up over my face in front of me as I passed between the bushes cautiously.
When I felt a web, I brought my arm down and dragged the web away, so it didn’t stick to my face.
But even when you think you have them all, you don’t.
The other day in the post office the clerk there pointed out that I had webs across my back. Something that grabbed at me in our parking lot at work, between a couple of flag poles. I managed to scrape it off my face, head and neck, but it continued to cling to my coat.
I wondered if it was because of all the wet weather.
Nearly everyone told me how hot and dry Oklahoma was, but I almost had to rent a boat to get here in early April.
I remember driving a huge U-haul with a trailer through the night in a downpour and every time the lightning flashed, all I could see was water in either direction headed west toward Altus.
Just the other day I was talking to one of the district attorneys who explained what happened at the courthouse.
What were minor leaks became major ones and the ceiling tiles literally exploded. They spent weeks air-drying the damp precious paperwork desperately needed for cases.
Only now are they able to renovate other areas of the building.
Some of my new local friends say they’ve never seen this area so green and, ironically, it looks normal to me coming from North Carolina. As does the humidity that shocks so many residents.
So if I brought it with me — the rain, that is — I guess I must apologize. But I still see signs that say “Pray for rain,” so maybe I was an answer to some prayers.
I bet the local farmers had a better yield this year than in the past. Hopefully, that will bring some money into this economy.
For that, I’m thankful and continue to be hopeful that any recovery we might experience will be swift and generous to all.
Reach Eric Steinkopff at [email protected] or 580-482-1221, ext 2072.