Then I remembered…. The bugs and spiders.
I don't think I've mentioned before that if you live on a boat, you need to have a high tolerance level for two equally bothersome of god's creatures: spiders and mosquitos. The problem is that if you get rid of one, you'll probably have a surfeit of the other. That's certainly true of spiders. I did manage, one year, to rid my barge of 'spinners' as the Dutch call them, but as a reward, I nearly got eaten alive by kamikaze mozzies flying formation over my bed at night.
The sober truth of the matter is that if you want a life on the water, you will inevitably suffer from mass invasions of these flying, biting, whining, disease-carrying, blood-sucking pests - unless you tolerate equal invasions of eight-legged, hairy, scuttling, web-spinning troopers, who in their turn will trap and dispose of the aforesaid fiendish flies.
As we all know, mosquitos breed in stagnant, or still, water. In our harbour, most of the water moves constantly. Not only do we have a strong current from the tidal flow, but we also have the rise and fall of the tides as well. All the same, there are 'dead' areas of the harbour, where the water barely moves and it collects debris, weed and even a form of surface mould. It is in these areas that the mosquitos probably collect and…roll in dark clouds and scary music…breed…In vast numbers.
|There are some dead corners in the harbour|
Every warm evening, thousands of them will be hovering over the water, and as soon as the lights go on, they swarm inside, attracted by the glow of our myriad bulbs. We eat, drink and play accompanied by the sound of a zillion monotone whiners zooming round our heads…enough to make you shudder, isn't it?
So what is the solution? We can of course spray our living spaces and ourselves to an early death with a cocktail of toxic chemicals - all available from our local supermarkets; or, we can make our peace with the 'spids' (as I like to call them).
On my barge, the Vereniging, there is a lot of wood and the spiders love making nests between the hatchboards and the panels. They get right underneath the outside rims, so it's really difficult to clear them out. The result is that they breed in profusion and start industriously making their webs as soon as the warmer weather arrives. I have to plough through the swathes of the delicate lacework they make on a daily basis in the summer, something I often feel bad about considering how much work it takes to make a really good web. But they just don't seem to get that spinning their home across the entrance to mine is not a good career move.
That said, there are plenty of homey spiders inside the barge as well, and I frequently have to clear a path through the fruits of their very busy labours when I get up in the morning. Now some of you are probably cringing at this prospect, but up to a point, I don't mind it. Spiders are, indeed, very very good at disposing of mozzies in a natural, and, to me, painless manner. However, sometimes they take their industry too far. For instance, the morning I woke up and found a web stretched across my bed from side to side, effectively pinning me to the mattress (not always bad, I hear you think); and another time when I was disturbed from my nightly read by a monster spider absailing from the ceiling onto my book.
|The spiders spin their webs between the hatchboards|
and the side panels
At such times, I feel they have pushed the boundaries of 'their place and mine' too far, and I take action. As the saying goes, a new broom sweeps clean, and that's what I do. Out comes the brush and I go to war like a knight with his javelin. But I only take out the cheeky ones. The rest - those who keep to discreet corners, I leave well alone, and for this reason: I was brought up on the saying "if you wish to live and thrive, let a spider run alive". I've adapted this slightly to my own version of the truth, being: "If you plan them mozzies to survive, let them spiders stay alive."