Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tarantula Tango OR The Tarantula and the Shoe Box

      As a kid I lived on two acres that my parents christened “Lizard Acres”, in what was then a very rural part of Arizona. There my folks designed and built a cinder block house with their own hands. The house was well laid out, cool in summer, and the cinder block walls exuded naturally trapped heat in the winter, but it was also full of  places where wildlife could creep in. 

     Whenever we went to take a bath*, there would generally be at least four forms of insect life. Vinagaroones were popular. They look a good bit like scorpions - which we often saw outside the house.
All prepped to take our bath, we would scream bloody murder at the sight of those bugs. Then my mother would yell out “Oh just put the shoebox over it, and I'll be in there in a minute!” She had no patience with our fussing. So I ran around stony naked (my sister being older was usually more modestly atired) waiting for our mother to come and displace the insect life to the out of doors. I think they came up the drain in the tub, and from there they sometimes migrated on to the walls and into the rest of the house.
Also tarantulas came into the house. They were most partial to my sisters bedroom wall which retained the kind of heat tarantulas liked. I don't know how the tarantulas got in. Seems like they’d have been too big for the tub’s drain. Our good old dog, Blackberry used to (I’m not making this up) play with one of the tarantulas that came regularly. My sister was particularly unhappy to find this member of theTheraphosidae family on her wall one night at bedtime. My mother finally got fed up with our screams, and killed that particular visitor.
The dog moped for days and my mother felt awful, because she realized she killed Blackberry's friend. She never killed another and we learned to accept insects as part of life.
My mother drew this beautiful tarantula a few years after we left the wilds of Arizona for the intensity of suburban life in California.
It was a good move for economic and educational reasons, but we all kind of missed the excitement of bath time at Lizard Acres.

*Where we the only folks with a tub-only-just-one bathroom back in the 60's? As a kid, I thought showers were the kind of luxury people only had in motels

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