April, 2015 – Graham Miln

Tiny Spider

My reaction to spiders has changed since living in Australia. I am still uncomfortable when I first notice a spider but after a moment the rush of fear subsides. After Australian spiders, justifying a fear of spiders in France is impossible.

It is difficult to really fear insects in Europe once you have lived in Australia. That is not to be macho or suggest bravado. I can claim neither. Instead living in a country where a real fear of spiders is justified provides perspective on those times when the fear is utterly pointless.

I remember the first spider I saw crawling on the wall in my Sydney apartment. That moment of not being sure quite how nasty that tiny creature might be. Tracking the tiny black creature moving disturbingly quickly along the wall.

Since that first Australian spider I encountered all manner of nasty insects. They exist but despite the perception that Australia is full of lethal animals, you rarely come across them in your daily routine. Locals do however take more care than tourists and immigrants. This extra care can go unnoticed and that can lull you into a false sense of safety. That care is also not explicit but instead just a childhood habit instilled by parents and teachers over many years.

Australian kids are taught to never never prod and poke around under fallen branches and rocks. Adults are careful when gardening and working around the borders. Venturing into the bush requires good shoes and covered legs. Fridges are home to magnetic leaflets with silhouettes of spiders identifying those with nasty bites.

Explaining the joys of a childhood nature trail to an Australian results in tears of laughter and shock. You were encouraged to lift up rocks and seek out hidden creatures? Crazy.

With that comparison in mind, I took the chance to film a tiny spider in our bathroom. Harmless, beautiful, and now safely outside.