Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bits and Pieces of Our Days (The Spider Edition)

If you don't like spiders, you might want to skip this first bit.

Last night, Ramona was playing outside when something abruptly drove her indoors. Something along the lines of, "Mo-o-o-m! You have to see this spider! It's the biggest spider I've e-e-e-ever seen!" I went out to see this big, huge spider, thinking, "Uh-huh, yeah, sure ... it's probably as big as my thumbnail," and then I got outside. Sure enough, there was a spider on the back porch the size of my cat, and it had captured a small child:

Okay, no. Not really. It wasn't quite that hefty, and it did not have anything, not even an Ariel Barbie, pinned under any of its eight hairy legs. What it did have was the aforementioned gigantitude:

I wish I had a better camera, but a clearer picture might just disgust you.

I have seen this kind of spider before. The last time I saw one it was at least twenty feet away from the house and I saw no need to relay to my daughters the fact that prehistoric, horror-movie-creatures that might inspire one to sputter, "Them! THEM!" lived in our yard.

Anyway, homeschooling mom that I am, I swooped in to transform this Moment of Yuck into something I could record in a journal and call "school." We Googled.  We discovered we had been shuddering at looking at a wolf spider, we think. We did what any homeschooling mother and her daughters would do after research -- we called Atticus. Now, listen -- I'm no wimp when it comes to this stuff. I have had showdowns with mice. I have shooed a bat out of my house. A bat. I have dealt with a 50-lb. dog throwing up at my feet twenty minutes after she finished a lovely bowl of very doggish-smelling kibble. I'm not overly squeamish. But, yeah, I called Atticus. He swept the thing off the porch (can we call a good, hard smash "sweeping"? Yeah, we will...) but then I got kind of curious about why the back end of the spider was so lumpy-looking.

Now, if you're squeamish about spiders, you may not even want to be reading this post, but definitely do not click on this link, as it is about the way in which wolf spiders carry their babies on their backs. And it has pictures. With cameras better than my camera. Yup. The lumpiness was a whole bunch of babies.

"Well," I announced, "I guess we had our biology lesson for the day, eh?"

"Umm, yeah, well, I already had a biology lesson at school," said Anne-with-an-e, "and it was about photosynthesis. I'll take my lesson any day, thank you."

And now that I have so generously shared with you the horror that is the wolf spider, I feel all itchy and icky and I don't think I can do any more bits and pieces. I have to get up and go shake off the imaginary arachnids that are invading my psyche and my arms inside this sweater and the top of my head.


So I shall leave you with a bit and a piece endlessly more pleasant than spiders -- books. Here are two that I read in the last few days, at the request of my daughters: 

Meet the Austins, by Madeleine L'Engle (one of Betsy's favorites)

Mitch and Amy, by Beverly Cleary (at the request of Ramona)

L'Engle and Cleary are two of my favorite writers, women who know children, love children, understand children. Delightful reads. Almost enough to make forget about wolf spiders.




Theresa said...

In our school, we'd take the wolf spider over boring old photosynthesis any day!

Karen Edmisten said...

You are a better mother and scientist than I am! :)

Liz said...

Now the spider is probably the only one of those icky things you mentioned that I wouldn't have passed off to my husband. I might have used it for a science lesson, I probably would have gently swept it off the porch, but it wouldn't have caused me any particular icky feelings. My daughter on the other hand would have probably been hiding in the bathroom until her husband dealt with it. Her daughter would have, meanwhile, been enjoying watching the spider. Apparently, my granddaughter got her non-fear of insects from me. Perhaps it's all the ant watching we did when she was only one year old. Obviously, my daughter and I didn't do enough insect science when she was growing up, or else someone showed her Arachnophobia at their house.

Glad Atticus was around to rescue you.

tanita davis said...

How I LOVED that movie. We in this household still tend to screech it at any unsuspecting insect.

THANK YOU for no close-ups. GEEZ, louise, I think I might have had to get up and rub my arms if I'd seen the lumpy backside... I'm still not over this thing.