Friday, June 22, 2007
Vive la Difference
The first time I ever made S.B. relocate a rattlesnake, I feared he might divorce me. That's because S.B. is from south Louisiana. Over there, if something slithers along the ground or scurries up a tree, you shoot it. Sometimes, after you shoot it, you might do what one of our good buddies likes to do, and that is skin it, position it in an action pose in the freezer in order to scare the wife, and then cook it up for unsuspecting friends and family at the next barbecue. But never, under any circumstances, do you simply leave said wildlife in peace, much less relocate it.
But that's what I made S.B. do with the second rattlesnake that showed up at our old place. The first one, I let him shoot. In fact, I must admit, I asked him to. And then I was overcome with a guilt so powerful it banged away at my insides for days. I vowed never again to kill a snake (unless for some reason it was going to be dinner.) Otherwise, I was simply going to relocate all creatures no matter how creepy crawly off our property and back out into the wild. Hint: use a broom and a deep bucket . . . and try not to piss the snake off.
Today we take this relaxed approach with as much wildlife as we possibly can. For instance, the first year we moved in to this house, we discovered our happy home is host to a small nursing colony of pallid bats who every year from March to October, settle in under the eaves of our house.
Cute little critters, and they keep our insect population at bay. They are getting to make quite the mess on our stucco, though, so this year, S.B. built them a splendid bat box condo, which unfortunately, they have yet to grok to. We even sealed off the entire house (so we thought), yet somehow the bats are still here – only not in their condo. But what are we going to do? We want them here. And stucco can be washed and re-color coated. Perhaps next year they'll get the message.
And see this gal here?
This is our resident orb-weaving garden spider, a species which has built its webs somewhere along our patio overhang for the past several years now. Two years ago, a truly spectacular specimen showed up – twice the size of this one here, beautifully marked and vibrantly colored – and went about constructing a Web that could have won a design award it was so complexly woven.
Unfortunately this spider built her masterpiece right in the spot where me and S.B. were fixing to start working, sanding and staining our vigas and posts, which you have to do every couple years out here in the high desert, which tends to suck moisture out of everything like some gigantic sky-bound Hoover vacuum.
So I said to S.B., "What about the spider? Shouldn't we relocate her?"
S.B. let his head fall to his chest in that exaggerated gesture of annoyance which always means I'm just about to get on his every last nerve. "Sure. But YOU move it. And do it soon. I want to get started."
Using a long handled wooden spoon I gently nudged her into a deep Tupperware dish, then coaxed her back out onto the side of the house well away from our work. Of course, I fretted like a mother hen for days, checking her every couple hours to make sure she was still there. She was. And within about three days time had magically rebuilt her home. Not only was she beautiful, she was also adaptable.
Oh, and I learned something else, which I highly recommend you try at home: tap at the bottom of an orb spider web ever so lightly with your finger and watch in amazement as it springs instantly to life and rushes with terrifying predatory verve towards that very spot. Whoa. Just make sure you get your finger out of the way . . .