Anima McKertcher

The Dreaming Garden

An Unwelcome Visitor


Lips of an Angel
© Anima McKertcher
6" x 6"
Oil Pastel on Canvas

Last night I spent the evening painting peacefully on my balcony until … well I'll get to that shortly. Let me set the stage first: I'm about to spend the rest of the night painting and usually, when I'm painting, I listen to music or watch a movie or something. But, alas, I had temporarily misplaced my iPod. And instead of popping in Pride and Prejudice and painting on the island in my kitchen, I'm lured outside by the warmth of the sun. For the last couple weeks, Edmonton has been having sensational weather: clear skies and 28 C (82 F) all the time. Absolutely perfect.

So I'm sitting back in my chair with a 6" x 6" canvas on my lap, watching the tall grass in the park dance with the breeze, and listening to the birds sing. My fingers were sticky from rubbing yellow, orange, and pink oil pastels onto the canvas and the sun is just starting to set. Contentment has slowed my hyper heart to an easy relaxed beat.

Then, my visitor arrives.

A ½ inch long spider. Grey and white with dark markings. Suspended behind my head on its silky white web. Wonderful. Just. Wonderful.

I'm pleased to announce that I neither screamed nor leaped up and spilled my art supplies all over the place. On the contrary, I'm very calm as I begin plotting to kill it. I contemplate using the painting I'm working on. After all, the flat edges of the canvas would be great for spider squashing. But no, I wouldn't want to jeopardize the painting so moving on … oh look! In my hand is the paper towel that I use for keeping my oil pastels clean. I could use it to grab the spider and squish it. That would bring the spider into very close proximity with me, though. And what if I missed when trying to make a grab for it and it wound up landing on my lap or my hand? No. Way. That would be unacceptable! So what now?

Ah, I finally notice the sandals I'm wearing. And as I'm preparing to slip off the sandal and do the spider in, I start to feel bad. I flash back to my husband telling me how spiders eat mosquitoes and how they're so small and we're the big mean giants compared to them. And, here I want to kill another living creature that's just minding its own business. This is the guilt trip (that inevitably fails) that my husband uses when I ask him to kill a spider for me. It's just - why does it have to have so many legs? And why does it have to be so creepy looking? I guess it can't help how it looks … maybe I should just leave it alone …

It wasn't easy, but I did manage to leave the spider alone. I turned around and tried to continue working on my painting. Concentrating was impossible and I found myself turning around again and again to peer at the disgusting little thing and make sure it wasn't about to pounce on me. But eventually I became re-engrossed in my painting, forgot all about the spider, and enjoyed the lovely sunset.

I'm very proud of myself for letting that spider live. However, I make no guarantees for the safety of the next spider that crosses my path. In fact, I make no guarantees for the safety of this spider if it manages to crawl off the balcony and into our condo. Hopefully, it's smarter than that.