Monday, June 1, 2009

WHEELBARROW HORROR!

Let me begin by apologizing to my fellow arachnophobics… Forgive my photographic abruptness. I’m sorry if you’ve just spilled hot coffee in your lap or nearly shorted out your pacemaker. The eight-legged, hairy-limbed beastie gave me a fright, too—especially since I apparently picked it up with one of the chunks of firewood I loaded into the wheelbarrow. Trust me, the adrenaline jolt that hit my system when I looked down and saw the thing baring its fangs a few inches from my gloved hand, wreaked temporary havoc throughout my body—zapping voltage all the way to my DNA. I did not scream. It is unseemly for bulky, grown men to scream upon encountering itsy-bitsy chelicerate arthropods. Even when they’re not so itsy-bitsy. No, I merely stepped back rather hurriedly. That whole-body gesture which possibly resembled a shudder was due to the chill of the shadows. What might have been mistaken for a fit was just this naturalist’s sudden uncontrollable outbreak of intense emotion caused by unexpected delight at having stumbled upon another interesting creature to photograph and write about for my legion of faithful blog readers. I do not advocate nor subscribe to the notion that the only good spider is a dead spider…although this courtesy of allotted life does not extend within the precincts of my cottage walls; inside my house, all creeping, crawling, and otherwise lurking spiders will be summarily dispatched with extreme prejudice. The means of their demise might be flyswatter, hairspray squirt, vacuum cleaner, or 12-gauge…whatever seems appropriate at the time. I will whack, stomp, or blast with glee—and I don’t care if the principal character in Charlotte’s Web was your great-great-grandmother. But, I digress… The arachnid in the wheelbarrow was probably a wolf spider—a member of Lycosidae family. (Know you enemy, I always say.) The family name comes from the Greek for wolf, which describes this species hunting habits—lone, fast-moving predators that often chase their prey down, though some wolf spiders hide and wait for something to come along worth pouncing upon. Wolf spiders are found everywhere—in woods and fields, and among piles of firewood needing to be stacked. Many wolf spiders—perhaps even most—are not large enough to be terrifying except to those who simply can’t contain themselves over anything with eight legs. A few wolf spiders, however, are the stuff of nightmares. This particular wolfie had a body a bit over an inch in length; it’s leg-tip to leg-tip length came close to spanning four inches. From my adrenaline-overdosed perspective, it appeared to be only slightly smaller than a German shepherd. Nevertheless, in the name of good blogging, I dashed inside, grabbed my Nikon, returned and made its portrait. Then I tipped the wheelbarrow over and gently deposited the little horror onto the gravel…and threatened to run over it with my pickup if it even waved one hairy leg in the direction of the cottage. (It’s a big truck and I felt reasonably safe in being able to make good on this threat without damaging my vehicle.) The spider and I parted company. Woodstacking has temporarily ground to a halt…just long enough, you understand, for me to write and post this piece. FEAR WAS NOT INVOLVED! * * * * * [Identity correction: Reader "Deerfriend" has graciously set me straight on the actual species of spider in the photo—it's a brownish-gray fishing spider rather than a wolf spider. In my reply to him I said, in part: I'm certain you've got it right, and that the spider in the photo is a brownish-gray fishing spider and not a wolf spider. I've actually been doubtful of my own identification all along. Before writing the piece I went through my own various fields guides, plus spent a long time online. I guess I was leaning more toward a species of thin-legged wolf spider—but only because I initially thought "wolf spider" and thereafter failed to pay sufficient attention to the materials at hand. The misleading power of presumption.… The rub is that my own copy of the Audubon Society's Field Guide to INSECTS & SPIDERS was still on my desk, right beside my keyboard, when I read your comment. The answer at my fingertips, literally, and me too dumb to notice. Ha! Fishing spiders are common here along the river. I see them almost every day during warm weather. But they are not the same species—rather they're mostly gray (no brown) have a longer legs-to-body ratio, are marked differently with a different shaped body, and have a flatter stance. Plus I never see them more than a yard or two from the water's edge. I hereby thank Deerfriend again for correcting me on this matter.]

40 comments:

Richard said...

OK...got my laugh for today. The German Shepard reference did me in...lol

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Richard…

Well, that was SLIGHT exaggeration—but only slight. :-)

Gail said...

Hey Grizz-

I jumped off the chair at your "REAL LIFE PHOTO"......

Are you sure you don't live in the woods just out back, so many similarities in our surroundings.

anyway - scared me good.

love you
Gail

going to see the doc tomorrow at 3, just to be sure I don;t need any other medication.

Wanda said...

I know "exactly" how you feel...this very weekend I came upon the same "German Shepherd" of a spider while moving what I thought was an empty barrel...I shot it too...with my trusty camera...it will appear in my next post but will not get top billing like yours...I once scared a blogging friend away for a month by posting several snake photos...Thanks for
the very funny vision of you NOT screaming like a girl...I'm still laughing.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Naaah…you gotta double-click for lifesize.

Not even in an Ohio woods, really—just on a strip of riverbank, with geese and kingfishers and herons, and spiders the size of king crabs!

Glad to hear you're going to see the doctor. Listen to him/her; heed their advice.

GET WELL!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

I'll have you know I DID NOT "scream like a girl." Or like a guy, either. No scream, period. (I'm not saying there wasn't one in there waiting for the slightest invitation to emerge in high-decibel glory.) I handled it like a man, say John Wayne—except I didn't get drunk afterwards, start a fight in the saloon, and whip half the town before somebody broke a chair over my head.

I'll look forward to your spider shot.

Now…com' on…it's just me and you here…how loud did you scream?

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Goodness me, Grizzled! Would you be frightened if you met an eight-legged giraffe in your wheelbarrow?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

I don't think so, but you must admit, giraffes—eight-legged or otherwise—are cuter than spiders. Besides, why would an eight-legged giraffe be lurking in my woodpile?

Deerfriend said...

Your photographs are magnificent and I truly enjoy each post. Actually because today's photo was sooooo good, I believe it is actually a Brownish-gray Fishing Spider rather than a wolf spider. If possible check out specimen #663 of National Audubon Society Field Guide to INSECTS & SPIDERS. Both species are quite large and formidable. Glad you didn't "spray it, swat it or shoot it". Look forward to each and every blog.:)

Sydney said...

OOoh, gives me the willies to just look at it -- but all the same it's a really beautiful shot, with the textured background of the wheel barrow in contrast!

Rowan said...

I probably wouldn't have lived long enough to write a blog post if I'd had your experience, I'd have died of a heart attack straight off. And you didn't scream?!! I hereby award you a medal for extreme bravery in the line of duty. Spiders are the one thing I can't cope with - I don't kill them because I daren't get that close, I get someone else to remove them alive to a very considerable distancce from the house. Snakes, rats, mice etc no problem,which isn't to say that I necessarily like them but they don't turn me into a quivering wreck - snakes I do like, though normally from a respectful distance.
Enjoyed your post from yesterday too,I really like having satisfying 'tired but happy' sort of days.

Bernie said...

ewwwww.....I have never seen a spider as big as that, sorry I don't mean to laugh but it was kind of funny.......hope you get your wood piled without any more visitors.....Have a great day...
.....:-) Bernie

Carolyn H said...

When it comes to me and wolf spiders, they always have the right of way--even in the shower. Something that big deserves a little respect, I say.

Carolyn H.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Deerfriend…

Thank you for the nice words regarding the photos and posts.

And thank you, too, for correcting me on the identification. I'm certain you've got it right, and that the spider in the photo is a brownish-gray fishing spider and not a wolf spider.

I've actually been doubtful of my own identification all along. Before writing the piece I went through my own various fields guides, plus spent a long time online. I guess I was leaning more toward a species of thin-legged wolf spider—but only because I initially thought "wolf spider" and thereafter failed to pay sufficient attention to the materials at hand. The misleading power of presumption.…

The rub is that my own copy of the Audubon Society's Field Guide to INSECTS & SPIDERS was still on my desk, right beside my keyboard, when I read your comment. The answer at my fingertips, literally, and me too dumb to notice. Ha!

Fishing spiders are common here along the river. I see them almost every day during warm weather. But they are not the same species—rather they're mostly gray (no brown) have a longer legs-to-body ratio, are marked differently with a different shaped body, and have a flatter stance. Plus I never see them more than a yard or two from the water's edge.

But I'm still sure you're right, and I really appreciate your letting me know. I will forthwith add a portion of this reply to the piece as a footnote correction.

Again, thank you for commenting. I need checking up and setting straight occasionally!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Sydney…

I liked the rusty wheelbarrow bottom in the shot, too. Didn't like the spider, but liked the photo.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

You're a thoroughly sensible lady, in my book. I don't mind snakes or any other creature whatsoever—but spiders are something I want to see at a reasonable distance.

A few years ago I heard an interview with perhaps the foremost spider expert in the U.S. He was asked if he was afraid of anything, and after a moment of hemming and hawing, said he couldn't abide snakes. What was interesting was that he said many of his spider-handling colleagues felt the same, although one or two were actually frightened by mice and their allies.

We all have our weaknesses, I guess…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

Sure, go ahead, laugh at my expense! :-)

Actually, the wood will maybe get piled today. But, after my close encounter of the spider kind, I DID mow the yard.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Carolyn…

That or give 'em a thirty-thirty slug between their eight eyes! (Okay, I got carried away and overreacted a bit; a twenty-two bullet would be sufficient.)

And you bet they have the right of way in the shower…nudity, freezing, and gales of laughter by friends and bystanders (even a possible citation for violating some law) takes a back seat to irrational fear. Give that arachnid its space, immediately—then come back armed and dangerous and wrest the space away.

Jayne said...

Ever the diligent Blogger... first recoil, then run for the camera! Love it!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

Grace under pressure…

Professionalism to the end…

And a camera that happened to be located in the general direction of my retreat.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Scribe - the fright was pretty intense when your blog came up and was almost full of spider pic!! Still - I have got over it now and wonder what kind of rod and line does that fishing spider use?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

Please forgive the fright; hope there's no lasting harm.

Non-scientific answer to latter part of your comment: This particular fishing spider is a confirmed fly fisher; dry flies ony, fished upstream in the classic F. M. Halford manner.

Scientific answer to latter part of your comment: Fishing spiders—big ones, anyway—can actually catch minnows and tadpoles. They can stay underwater for upwards of a half hour. After reading about fishing spiders today, I've decided for sure this is one, and I glad I received proper correction; however, I'm not not quite sure which fishing spider it is—it could be one of two or three similar species. But it doesn't look at all like the other, even bigger fishing spiders along the river., which I see regularly (I found this one, a female, quite a ways from the waterside.)

P.S. I'll try to not frighten you for the next few posts…give you ample recovery time. Okay?

Larry said...

I give you credit for capturing that photo so well.-I am a bit freaked out by large spiders.-I remember drving home on a 10 hour trip back from Maine loaded full of caffeine.-My friend and I dozed off at in front of a convenience store for a few minutes.-When I awoke there was a huge brown spider on my leg.I screamed bloody murder and awoke my friend who opened his door and fell out into the parking lt without really knowing what happened.-I don't know who was more scared-me of the spider or him of my reaction.

Jain said...

Handsome beast!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Larry…

I'll take that credit, my friend, for you apparently understand that it was earned; that was a macro lens, and I was about as close to that spider as it looks.

I am also a "bit freaked out" by large spiders. Not as freaked out as I used to be; it now takes a really large spider way too close to make me come unglued. But the recessive urge is still there .

A friend and I once followed some trails through weed fields on motorcycles. After we returned to the blacktop and cranked up to about 80 MPH, I happened to glance down and saw one of those big black-and-yellow garden spiders—an argiope—clinging for dear life on my naked right forearm. I knew a motorcycle going at high-speed on a highway was no place to have a spider freak-out if I wanted to live. So I reached over with my left hand, grabbed the spider, flung it off (hopefully in the direct path of an 18-wheeler), then slowed and pulled over onto the shoulder. When I got stopped, I put my feet down to steady the motorcycle…except my legs were too weak to hold me or the bike up—so I and the motorcycle simply tippled over into the ditch.

My companion then did freak out until he got the motorcycle off me, saw I was all right, and heard the story—at which point he laughed so much he fell over.

I left him on the ground. One should not laugh at the handicapped.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

Handsome? HANDSOME?

(And almost certainly a female, not a fellow.)

Handsome????!!!

Jain said...

Yes. YES.

I used to be so scared of spiders that I refused to touch pictures of them in books. Then I read two books: "The Life of the Spider" by John Crompton (an entertaining romp of a read) and "Biology of Spiders" by Ranier Foelix (text book-y, challenging to read, but impossible to put down). I challenge anyone to read either or both and not walk away admiring, respecting, and even loving spiders. It beats the heck out of fearing them.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

Jain, Jain, Jain,Jain, Jain, Jain,Jain, Jain, Jain.Jain, Jain, Jain. You misunderstand MY problem…I have an irrational fear of spiders.

I know a fair amount about spiders. I have read a fair amount about spiders. I have seen more than a fair amount of spiders. On some level I actually admire spiders. Spiders are useful creatures. Spiders are fascinating creatures.

But…

I have an irrational fear of spiders.

irrational |iˈra sh ənl|
adjective
• not logical or reasonable.
• not endowed with the power of reason.

I know it doesn't make sense…that's why it's irrational; irrational doesn't give a hoot about logic or common sense or the truth before your very eyes. Irrational lives in its own little world.

It is…ahem…irrational.

(But you are a real trooper for giving it a try. Alas, I'm beyond hope.)

Lisa said...

What a hilarious story! I'm glad the spider didn't have to get run over with your truck. They sure are scary creatures, and yes, had I had coffee in my lad, I'd have spilled it! Great writing and post.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Lisa…

In this matter, I believe hilarity is a subjective view. My first reaction was not to laugh out loud—although other forms of loud vocalization quickly came to mind. :-)

Humor, however, is where you find it, and I tend to find almost everything funny given the right circumstances…especially if whatever it is involves someone else. After-the-fact humor is generally easier, too.

(Actually, it's my philosophy that if you can't laugh at life, others—and most especially yourself—you're in a sad and miserable state and are a sorry excuse for good company. Luckily, I find regular, ample opportunity to laugh at my own stupidities, mistakes, and failures—often while I'm swabbing off the blood and applying the bandage.)

I'm glad you liked the piece, glad you found it amusing…and glad you didn't suffer collateral damage with that hot coffee.

Jules said...

Hello! After the initial shock of seeing a 'german shepherd' size spider, I thought what a beautiful creature it is. There are so many things that fear stops us seeing, but his colours and markings are wonderful. I will be back (with a hoover, just in case!)

Mad Aunt Bernard said...

Wow! That's a beast! I happen to be fascinated by people who can spot one of these, and stay still long enough to photograph them.
I normally panic, and bang my head on a cupboard while leaping out of the way!
Enjoying the blog....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jules…

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," I expect. :-)

Actually, you're right—many things which frighten us are striking, colorful, even beautiful in their own right. That's true for this harmless spider, and true for a host of similar harmless creatures which some might deem fearful.

It's equally true for any number of animals and plants which are, indeed, harmful—even deadly.

Beauty and danger can coexist. And fear—whether justified or irrational—can blind us to that beauty.

Which, to be quite honest, is why I have and keep making spider photos…because my shortcomings could too easily cause me to neglect and overlook that which I seek to recognize.

Thank you for visiting and commenting. You're always welcome here on the riverbank…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Mad…

Madam, you overestimate my powers of immobility!

It was mere serendipity that my impulsive retreat carried me toward a camera—and no more than simple impulse that upon somehow seeing said camera in the midst of my chaotic hastening, I decided to snatch it up as I passed by.

At this point I confess it's rather solid weight and sturdy strap—a rather good modern version of a medieval flail—gave me a vacillating measure of courage. Thus emboldened, I therefore circled back, crept in for the kill, er, shot…and employed the camera as a recording device rather than weapon.

I can assure you that had my head—or any other part of my precious and frangible body—been stuck inside a cabinet, cupboard, or drawer, we likely wouldn't currently be having this exchange of missives…unless I'd regained consciousness and the bandages and splints didn't interfere with my typing.

Nevertheless, I appreciate your kind remarks—unworthy though I am of such praise. And having only just returned from a brief (first) visit to your own blog, let me say I'm glad to have such a voice of obvious sanity and refinement grace this comment board. Do not hesitate to fling your keen pronouncements our way again…

Barb said...

I came to visit via Wanda and her spider...that is 2 spiders too many late at night here in the wilds of CO. That said - if this is truly a Brownish-gray Fishing Spider, I say throw the thing in the river (log and all) the next time it crosses your path. Perhaps it will drown - if not, its identification is tested and proven.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Barb…

Hey, hope you visit regularly—especially given that you seem to have the perfect spider I.D. solution. One thing, however, is who gets close enough to the beast to do the flinging? I am not a hands-on spider man.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I don't mind spiders in fact, but i have had a couple of incidents like this and finding large spiders unexpectedly is terrifying, well done for going back with the camera!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Crafty…

Yup, the suddenness is what really got me—that and the notion that I'd certainly picked up the chunk of firewood with the spider aboard.

Actually, my first thougth was "grab the camera!"…at least my first thought after "monster in the weelbarrow—run for your life!"

Brenda said...

I might have missed this but just how did you get rid of this beast? And btw, a spider of this size is not "just a spider" -- it is a wild animal and any grown man can hold his head up without shame over "reacting" to a suddenly appearing wild animal, right?

Brenda (still looking over her shoulder for critters)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Brenda…

I like the way you spin-doctor a scenario! You're absolutely right…no man should feel shame at fleeing a wild beast!

Actually, I long ago realized that bravery and cowardice could both lead to trouble if you failed to invoke common sense. I'm not impressed by macho.

To answer you question re. the spider's eventual fate…I tipped the wheelbarrow and set it free. I'm not bloodthirsty, either, and can live at peace with my enemies so long as they don't encroach on my home.