110 degrees. It doesn’t matter what you wear or how you fix your hair. Sweat, not perspiration, but dripping, drenching sweat is the great equalizer. Everyone and everything is bedraggled and miserable. Oro, my dog, refuses to go outside. And when she does the sand is too hot for her bare feet. She tears across the road to the shade of the nearest pecan tree or patch of dried grass then turns and looks at me accusingly. How could you make me come out here? I wish Keen or Merrill would invent doggie sandals but even if she had a pair she probably would still refuse to go out. Kitty wouldn’t blame her. She slinks around looking for a cool spot too typically lazing under the bed in the dark.
I fling hoses around the garden flooding it daily and still the plants wilt. The tarantula hawks love it though, dive bombing me as I work in the garden. There must be a hundred of them, I kid you not. Big black buggers, they’re resemble mutant wasps, twice as big, twice as thick with fierce stingers, some with black wings and some with bright orange wings. A twelve year old boy explained the difference to me: orange for males and black for females. It figures the males would be flashy, the females monotone. It really doesn’t matter though as they whir by giving me an early warning to duck. I don’t mind them much except for one thing. Predators follow prey and the tarantula hawks favorite prey is the tarantula. As I walk through the garden are tarantulas lurking among the squash? When I peek under a leaf to pluck a tomato will one be staring back at me with those kaleidoscope eyes?
Now I step on scorpions without hesitation as I haven’t quite forgiven them for stinging me not once but twice last spring at a time I was already crippled from a horse stomping. But tarantulas are a different matter entirely. The Hell’s Angels of the arachnid world, they are big, bearded and brawny, which gives them a leg up in the creepy category. Their steely hair and bulky thick legs makes me wonder, if I were to step on one, would it be like stepping on a stuffed animal or a satisfying crunch? I’m not about to try it since they look like they bench press at least a hundred times their weight. So I step lightly.
When you think something you call it in. So it was no surprise this morning as I swept the porch there in the corner sat a tarantula. Tentatively I touched him with the broom and he immediately rolled into a ball.
Hah! You’re not so tough.
I nudged him again and he rolled onto his back all fluffed out, a tactic I’m sure that was meant to throw me off. To make me think he was cute and cuddly. But I wasn’t buying it. I whisked him off the porch next to the lantana. He plopped onto the fresh, wet earth, popped out his legs and strode out of the sun under a leaf. Then he turned and looked at me. Our eyes locked. A shiver went up my spine.
Hey babe, you won this round but it ain’t over yet. Sleep tight tonight. Heh, heh, heh.