Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Along came a (few dozen) spider(s)...

Most people avoid black widow spiders like ... well, like creatures with potentially deadly venom.

Not me, as you might have guessed:
But most people have a vague idea that they are nocturnal, and relatively shy. People know that they just don't go traipsing around in daylight, right? And that if one did happen to be out in daylight, it would probably book it to the nearest rock or hidey hole, or back to its web? And that if it just happened to walk over some bozo's hand, that bozo might look at her hand before automatically swatting it because, well, it has potentially deadly venom inside of it?

I think you probably all know where this is going:

This spider was the latest in an ongoing quest to keep at bay a burgeoning population of black widows that have decided our house is prime real estate. I love the creatures. They're some of the most gorgeous spiders out here (and we have our share of spiders). However, their venom is potentially problematic. (It's rarely lethal, actually. Surprisingly, however, many people are less comfortable with "rarely" than "never.") That goes double if you have a kid, especially one who can be absentminded; or a cat, especially one who, though he isn't allowed outdoors and hates to be outdoors, occasionally tries to go outdoors, and has been known to eat spiders. If the webs and spiders are far enough away from the house I don't worry, but our widow population has taken to making webs against every freaking corner of the house. That includes the part everyone's ankles brush every time they walk out of or into the house, the corner our legs lean into if we're grilling, and the nooks along the area where David likes to play with his friend. (First thing his friend told his dad as he picked him up: "Hey Dad! They have BLACK WIDOW WEBS in their yard!" Great.) So last night and the night before, I waited until they were all coming out, grabbed a cheap flashlight (but not a partner, as my husband is a big giant baby has an aversion to spiders) and stalked the front and back yard. I'm probably a huge geek weirdo Aw, whatever geek and weirdo, but it was kind of thrilling. The moonlight was faint, almost absent. I could only see a patch of world at a time, just a little circle of weak yellow light sliding over the gravel, grass, dirt, and concrete. I could just make out the tangled heads of trees, darker shades of black against the almost-black sky. I played the light left and then right, keeping my feet always in the periphery of the beam and then whoa a something ran over my foot (probably a lizard) and holy crap the ground is moving over there and There, there's a black widow, huge and hunting. And another. And another.

I had to dispatch of more than I would have liked. But the excursion itself? It was stimulating. I paid attention. To everything.

The Arizona desert -- my backyard -- is so commonplace to me that I forget it's pretty exotic and remarkable. Outsiders already know this. Things I consider everyday, or at least not super rare -- using looming mountains to get my bearings, glimpsing a roadrunner or coyote, dodging a giant tumbleweed, walking past any of the hundreds of saguaros I might see in a day, finding a scorpion in the laundry room -- are Super Big News to a visitor or someone hearing about it. One friend of mine spent her first month here taking pictures of every saguaro she saw, and stopped her car in the middle of the road to photograph tumbleweed.

For the record, it works both ways. I bug the crap out of everyone in earshot every time I visit Upstate New York, or anywhere in New England, by commenting approximately ten times a minute that "It's so green." They get it. Also, I spent a whole afternoon photographing seagulls in San Diego, found the deer at Goucher College incredibly exotic, and was super-excited when I found this multicolored, active beetle on one trip.

I love the desert. (Well, usually. I could do with out temperatures that, as my husband says, are hotter than Satan's armpits. Actually, I'm pretty sure he stole that phrase. But I don't know the original source, so he gets credit for now.) I love its sunsets and mountains and cacti and especially its critters. But sometimes, well, I get used to the desert.

I could do without the black widows sometimes. But sort of, thank god for 'em. And for my ever-questioning kid, and for my chosen profession. I would hate to stop paying attention. I would hate to get used to this place.

**Also, I'm taking requests now, if you have any. I am used to this place all too often. My son provides a fresh perspective, but for those times he's too engrossed in the comparative merits of Bakugan and Ben 10, what would you like to read about? Widows? Sunsets? Cacti? Coyotes, wolves, roadrunners, javelina, Gila monsters, other spiders, insects, monsoons, the Grand Canyon? Am I leaving stuff out? (Well, of course I am. I could go on for much longer than you could possibly want to read. But I want to know what you find interesting.) And I promise to take my own, minutiae-including, booger-involving, amateur casually written, weird idiosyncratic approach.**


heather said... Best Blogger Tips

I will read ANYTHING ELSE you write about, except maybe snakes. But please no more spiders!!!

Thank you,

Ron Weasley's long-lost cousin

Aaron said... Best Blogger Tips

I agree with Heather...no more spiders!! I would, however, like to hear a lot more about that great husband of yours. I think he deserves more (positive) attention on your blog.

A Concerned Citizen
(in no way affiliated with your marital partner in any way...)

Selfel said... Best Blogger Tips

Kim, have you any books out? Your narrative is superb and all u are doing here basically is talking spiders! Wow you are one clever wordsmith! Enjoy all your posts and photos

heather said... Best Blogger Tips

I agree, you could very easily be your generations Erma!

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Ha; I'll try to throw plenty of non-spiders into the mix for the arachnophobic members of my family/readership. No promises, though. Two spiders were already on my potential-topics list...

@Selfel and Heather: Thank you! No, I don't have any books out. I want to say "yet," but I don't have any proposals accepted either. But I'm planning and hoping. So yeah. Not yet.

Dawn said... Best Blogger Tips

Lovin' the spider shots and story... Can't get enough of the spiders around here...
Would love to hear more about scorpions too! Oh... I guess that still puts you in the arachnids...

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Dawn: You'd get along just fine with my son and me! We're very arachnophilic around here. (The spell-check informs me "arachnophilic" is not a real word, but I say if spider-loving doesn't get a word but "bouncebackability" gets added to the dictionary it's the English language that's wrong, not me.)

I love scorpions too! We used to get them all the time at our old house when I was growing up. I'll definitely have to think about that one.

heather said... Best Blogger Tips

Just make sure you put up a warning first.....you know, like this blog may be disturbing for SSS(Spider and Scorpion Scaredycats).

Kevin J. Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

I'm late to the comments, but write about what moves you, Kim. I could read about any of the topic you mentioned or the others you have written about.

It has to come from the heart for you to even consider writing it, so spiders, snakes (thanks, Jim Stafford), arachnids, poop, etc., it doesn't matter.