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Creek Running North
June 17, 2004
Walking the dog
I come this morning upon a large, shiny, dark black spider splayed out on the sidewalk. It's about two inches from front feet to back feet, its body the size of a large pea. It's not moving.
Zeke waits patiently at the curb, which is where I usually attach his leash to head down the hill. I poke gently at the spider with the undogged leash, flipping it over to see the bright red hourglass on its belly. Zeke is curious now, and comes up to investigate. The spider hasn't moved a muscle even after my repeated poking, but still I grab his collar and yank him away.
We walk the two blocks to the park, me scanning for an empty and reasonably clean glass jar. I have in mind a photo for the blog, a supine poisonous spider next to a quarter, an animal capable of inflicting great pain gently depicted, blazing red patch in full view. Oh, the visual tension! Ah, the scolding letter various female relatives will send about my incaution! I am jubilant.
The only container I can find is a sandwich-sized ziploc. Twenty minutes later, the spider is in the same position in which I'd left it. It is difficult to scoop the thing into the open bag, and not finding any sticks nearby, I take a calculated risk and flick the spider into the bag with my finger. I seal it up, then Zeke and I walk home.
I shake the spider into a tray on our front porch, fish in my pocket for a quarter, then head inside to get the camera. When I come back the spider is gone. It has climbed out of the tray and down the plant stand, and is seeking refuge among the empty pots.
The darkness and many focusable objects beneath the plant stand test the limits of my camera. The spider keeps moving, trying to climb a strand of web left by one of his colleagues. This is the best photo I can manage.
Posted by Chris Clarke at June 17, 2004 10:36 AM
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You need a quarter to get into your own house? Funny, Vicki only charges me a dime.
We saw a black widow on our back porch this morning. Kathleen was a little anxious, but they pay their rent in insect control...Posted by: Denny at June 18, 2004 07:05 AM
I'm not sure that was smart, Chris (the finger flip) but it's a good story. Loved the pictures - especially "animal".Posted by: beth at June 19, 2004 08:39 AM
When I wrote that Chron spider piece, Steve Lew told me he handles black widows (as well as the Steatoda spiders we encounter more often in urban areas nowadays) "all the time" -- picking them up and putting them into vials -- and he's never been bitten, that they're really quite unaggressive. So I'm endorsing your judgment here. Pretty spider, too.
Oddly, I'm also wearing the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science spiders Tshirt that Kate and Gene gave me. "We saw this and thought of you..." Hm.Posted by: Ron at June 21, 2004 12:10 PM