Saturday, August 2, 2008

Us and Them

There was a flyer in our mailbox this week warning about mountain lion sightings in our neighborhood. The flyer said to avoid being outside from dusk to dawn and not to grow plants that attract deer. That part was funny, because the deer eat almost everything in my yard. They especially enjoy munching the ornamental plums that are currently all over underneath the three trees that line our yard. I figure that we live here with the wildlife and the best practice is healthy caution but not fear. I have nevertheless moved my walk to later in the morning and we bring the cats in early if we can coerce them to our way of thinking.

That's also why Cindy and I donned gloves and tennis shoes when late yesterday we went out to do some yard work. The vinca along the road really needed some attention. There were spots that weren't getting sufficient water and had turned dry and scrabbly. We poked around with a stick before stepping into the low lying greenery, cautious about disturbing a rattlesnake. Several neighbors had stumbled upon snakes in their yards in the past several months. But we were lucky. We got the work done without coming across anything more troublesome than mosquitoes.

We finished up quickly and Cindy rolled the wheelbarrow of slash up the road and into the driveway while I carried the box of drip-irrigation stuff. I was a little ahead of her when I heard her call my name in a voice unmistakably filled with dread. I was sure she'd spotted a rattlesnake. I turned to see Tweety pestering a tarantula that was zigzagging across the driveway. In unison, Cindy and I both screamed STEVEN!!

Steven is our neighbor and trusty tarantula-removing guy. One look at the neighbor's darkened windows, however, and we knew were on our own this time. I ran to get a broom as Cindy grabbed Tweety to take her to the house. Unfortunately, the broom simply caused the hairy black spider to turn and lift his front legs menacingly in my direction, something he hadn't even bothered to do when Tweety was batting him with her paw. Since tarantulas can jump a pretty good distance, I took a number of steps back. The spider froze in place. "Now what?" I thought. Just then, the light went on in a window at the neighbors and Cindy crossed the street to rouse Steven.

Whew . . . He responded immediately, sauntering across the street saying, "That's the first one of those I've seen this year." In one swift movement, he scooped the creature up and hurled him across the street into the field.

An hour later, I had to go outside to turn off the water that we'd left spraying on the vinca. To get to the spigot, I had to cross the dark, uncultivated side of the yard. As I went out the door, I said, "If I'm not back in 5 minutes, call 911 or at least Steven. There are spiders, snakes and lions out there."

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