Friday, July 18, 2008

Arachnid Memories

Emily's recent post on Garden Living about a spider we found on her porch had me recalling arachnid stories from my not-so-distant youth.

Spike the Spider

I spent the first half of my childhood in a house that was ancient by Florida standards. It was 100+ years old, built in the cracker tradition, meaning it was lifted 3 feet off the ground, had windows for cross ventilation, a nice wide porch, a tin roof and was built from pine and cypress. It also had no heat or AC.

The house had plenty of character, but unfortunately, this also meant there were plenty of cracks and crevices for creepy-crawlies to get through. We constantly had visitors and learned at an early age to just ignore them. Our mother taught us that spiders (especially wolf spiders) were our friends, hunting down and eating the nefarious cockroaches (Mom also instilled a slight panic in me when it comes to roaches. Thanks Mom). So we learned to live with our friends the spiders. One in particular sticks out in my memory: Spike.

Spike inhabited the corner of the living room behind Dad's chair. He was probably the same size as the palm of my hand now, so just imagine how giant he looked to a 6 year old girl. He would climb the wall and hang out right above the paneling, where the wood was painted so you could see him really well. It seems like he lived there forever although it probably wasn't very long. I just considered him another one of our many pets, and he contributed by eating bugs. It seems like we eventually figured out Spike was a girl because of an egg sack. Which brings me to another encounter...

Bathing with babies

Another memory that is pretty vivid is my experience with a mother spider and her young. I don't know how old I was, but I was taking baths by myself so probably around 8 years old. I went to fill the bathtub, and there was a big spider in it. Showing the values my mother instilled, i went to shoo it out of the tub. Well one behavior of wolf spiders is that they carry their egg sacks and their young. This spider was a particularly good mother and very productive. babies started streaming off of her, what seemed like thousands. They went EVERYWHERE, and really surprised/scared me. That is a shocking sight, if you ask me! Remembering still makes me shudder. Here is a good mother with her babies:

Mom is probably groaning that I'm telling the world that we lived with spiders and all sorts of things. Next on the memory parade: The snake and the bathtub.


Emily said...

I was going to mention Spike in the wolf spider post and changed my mind. You told it better than I would. And, you def have to let me read the snake story first to make sure you get it right ;-) You were little!

Dawn McKinstry said...

Alli, you just gave me chills all over. Yikes!

AlliJean said...

sorry Dawn! I should have posted a disclaimer!

Emily, I will be sure to discuss the story with you first. I feel like I have a pretty acurate memory of it though...