As I got out of the shower the other morning I saw a spider. A tiny beastie, vaguely stripey in black and white, at eye level. There it was, suspended in space. I tried blowing it towards the window – I imagined that it wanted a corner for a web rather than to dangle somewhere towards the middle of the room halfway between the ceiling and the floor – but was unsuccessful.
What goes through a spider’s mind as it hangs there at the end of an invisible spider rope? Did my blowing feel like some terrible storm; a scary, extreme fairground ride? How does it feel to be dangling in spider space, a metre or so from the ceiling and presumably unaware that the floor is still another 150 cm or so below? Is the spider conscious of these distances, vast in relation to its tiny body? Is it like looking down to earth from a parachute, paraglider or aeroplane is for us? Can it see how far away things are?
Whatever this spider’s thoughts – or instincts – it remained hanging there just a moment longer before deciding that the ceiling was a better place to be. It hauled itself back up its thread at a vertical sprint, if speed can be considered relatively to size. It reminded me of Isabella climbing up a vertical pole in the playground at FitzPark in Keswick, my pint-sized daughter blithely and rapidly ascending to the top where other, larger, children had failed.
On the bus to work I pondered these questions, and wondered where the minute spider (less than a centimetre across) would be when I returned home later.
No wonder Robert the Bruce was so inspired.