I’m not afraid of spiders or snakes generally. I like animals, even gross looking bugs and big slithering snakes. The line for me, however, lies right in front of the ones that can kill me.
I was eased into life with wolf spiders (can look deadly but are not). I saw a few little ones when I first moved here. Then I saw bigger ones on — you guessed it — Wolf Spider Island. (This is the upstream end of Latsch Island, only sometimes separated from the main island by a little stream.)
For the unindoctrinated, wolf spiders can come in a variety of sizes, but they are all hairy. You can really see the hair on the big ones, which makes them look like the huge monster spiders from the movie “Arachnaphobia.” Terantula like. The first big ones I saw on Wolf Spider Island, waking up from a boathouse nap. I nearly jumped into the river.
I should preface my next remarks by telling you that disasters that I cannot handle only happen to me when my husband is gone. The furnace only breaks when he’s not home and it’s 20 below. The water pump needs me to reset its fuse in the dark crawl space maze I’ve done nothing more than look into since we moved in because he’s 500 miles away. These kinds of things.
So of course he was not home when I first saw her. She was on the wall, about the circumference of a grapefruit with legs like bent, overgrown green beans. We were on the porch; she was looking down on the bench/storage contraption we used to have for the containment of things like dog food and extra nonperishables. I wrapped myself up in several garbage bags and blankets and hid in the other corner of the house until Chris got home. Of course he couldn’t find her.
The next time I saw her, Chris was also gone. She was on the wall in the kitchen, headed toward the bottom counters. This time he was going to be back soon, so I grabbed a tennis racket and sat in the living room, watching her from afar.
By now she was huge. She was bigger than my hand, and I remember thinking about how people wouldn’t believe it. At one point during this stressful night, I went to the bathroom, and she disappeared. The monster spider had clearly gone into the bottom cabinets, and again, Chris could not find her.
This might be the best diet plan that ever existed. The “Killer Spider In Your Cabinets” had me barely willing to move a plate from the upper shelves, much less lean in for anything. My belly had to be at least four inches from the countertops to do anything at all, which limited my intake of and options for food. I lost 10 pounds.
A few weeks went by, and Chris finally found her in the kitchen. He scooped her up with what must have been an ice cream bucket and let her go outside. He thought I had been exaggerating the size of this monster spider, but by the time he was finished relocating her, he knew.
A few weeks ago, I was driving down Highway 35 when I saw my first rattlesnake. It was huge! He was crossing the highway (going the wrong direction — toward my house — I might add), and I had to swerve to miss him. I’ve never seen a snake that big move so fast, and it almost looked like he was rolling in a spiral motion along the pavement. Even though I was a half mile away within moments, and I’d been inside my truck for the ordeal, I could still feel my heart racing.
Spotting that rattlesnake renewed my sense of caution while out in the garden. We have plenty of snakes out there, and I usually either walk with a stick that I bang on the ground, or I stomp my feet when I’m entering tall grass territory. That’s what they tell a person to do to avoid big snake encounters, since most snakes would share our desire to avoid unexpected meetings.
Last weekend, we had a rattlesnake scare in our yard. It turned out to be a similar looking species of snake, which was pretty good news. I had been planning a tightrope route to the truck for any future jaunts across the yard, and been wondering how I could incorporate iron waders into my wardrobe.