Friday, July 2, 2010

Holiday in Spider Country

I had a visitor in my shower this morning. I don’t have as much hair as I once did so my morning routine is much abbreviated and this morning I made the record for shampooing and rinsing. I didn’t even repeat. The Green Police would have awarded me a golden hemp star. I spy with my little eye a spider flying high.

We’re up here in Spider Country for our summer respite visiting the grand rents and cousins. Growing up, we not-so-affectionately dubbed this town ‘Coma and things have not changed much in the 20+ years since I’ve been gone. I’m ok with that now though because any time I get away from the laundry and chores of home rates high on my vacation reviews. Plus, the temperatures are 40 degrees cooler here. I actually get to wear jeans and a sweatshirt for a week in June, something we don’t usually get to experience until late October in Austin.

Texas is hands down the winner of ‘Places with the Nastiest Critters’. From scorpions to tarantulas to snakes, cicadas, centipedes and man-size cockroaches, I have encountered all of them at some point. I have learned to adapt to my environment – keep a big shoe handy and call your husband for the especially nasty chores like removing the dead rat from under the kitchen table at 2AM. Even Tom admitted “It was a big one.”

I still get a little squirmy though when it comes to the common brown house spider. We don’t have these down south, so when I visit Washington, I have to ready myself for the unexpected. Our family downstairs den has been christened ‘The Spider Room’ for all the arachnids that met their maker over the years at the hands of my courageous mother. Even my kids refer to it in this way although the furnishings and piles of crap under which you could find so many of these eight-legged horrors are long gone.

I have only in the wisdom of adulthood come to appreciate that these creatures are actually our friend. They keep the house clean of other smaller pests and they will keep their distance if I keep mine. They still creep me out. They hide in folds of draperies, small cracks in the baseboards, even in bedding. They do not bite but if you wake to find one staring down at you from the ceiling, you will lose ten years of your life guaranteed. They are thirsty creatures and come to places with water. I vividly recall making a late night trip to the bathroom to fill a drinking glass of water. A big fat one was crouched in the sink rousing me and the entire household with my screams of bloody murder. I even developed hives from this encounter.

“Big Baby!” I believe is the name I have earned for my reactions. My sister is even worse than me though. Even in our 40’s, we will still call our mother to come “Kill the Spider!” I am now the defender of the family against such harm – the problem is – the kids never find the nasties first. I do. It was me who discovered the six foot snake in the garage, the pervasive possum, the rats, and, of course, the numerous lizards – live and decapitated – over the years. Thank heavens my children are not the least bit uncomfortable handling these freeloader and giving them the broom – or the boot – out the door.

We’re headed to the Washington beaches for the remainder of our vacation and Fourth of July holiday (and Danielle’s 12th birthday) away from Spider Country. I hope I will sleep a bit better and deeper. I always keep a glass of water by my bed as I get very thirsty during the night. In the house I grew up in, you always had to put your fingers down into the glass before drinking because the spiders tend to crawl down inside looking for a free drink. This I learned the hard way.

May you and your family have a wonderful 4th of July celebration in the best country on this planet – even with our friend, the spider.

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