Sunday, February 13, 2005

Catch and Release Beetle


I do not subscribe personally to the Hindu belief, but I do find myself in great accordance with my hindu brothers and sisters along one line; all of God's creatures, big nor small, I just can't squash them. Yes, such a peaceful belief has brought many a heated debate to our marriage. The quarter sized, catch-and-release Beetle I found in the basement, the terrified wasp in our bedroom, the lonely moth in our shower. I just can't squish them, I needed to help.

It's not so much that I worry about the reincarnation part, it's just that, come on, you know that red ant on the window sill is somebody's Mother out there. And that earwig, that ran across your feet as you did the laundry in the basement, don't deny it, you know he was some little earwig's uncle, somewhere. There's Grandmother worms and Grandfather bumble bees, you just can't tell because they all look the same and age well.

That's why when, last week, at midnight a rather large spider lunged at me in the kitchen as I made Noah a bottle, I could not and would not kill her. Yes, she scared me, yes, I sprang back in surprise and spilled the bottle, but she, as I, was a mother as I could see she was carrying a large egg sack upon her hairy back. I ran to Jon, hands in the air, bottle in one, Tupperware catching device in the other. "Oh my God Jon" I yelled. "There is a huge Mother spider near the spice rack"! This sounded absurd, yes, I know...but I just had to tell someone, the adrenaline, going through my body.

You would think, after what happened to me in the summer of 2001, I would have hated all spiders that I laid eyes on, but that incident did not lead me to hatred, just awe for the spider's potency. An enormous, brown "North American Hobo Spider" had somehow hitched a ride to Michigan in Jon's luggage after he took a trip to California. My ankle suddenly hurt and was all red, I looked down to see this slightly tropical looking mammoth right after he bit me. At the time, alone, I just figured he was a big Michigander spider and stupidly, as always, caught and released him without thinking, but not before a great photo shoot. Later, after developing a red rash all over my body, and a fever with the chills for quite a few days, I had to then return to the portraits I shot of Mr. sub-tropical, only to identify him as a non-native, kinda poisonous spider. I was ok in the end though. Really.

So that brings us back, midnight, big, hairy spider in the kitchen, two, sleep deprived parents. "You're going to kill him, right"? said Jon. "No! she's pregnant!" I yelled...but really in a whisper kind of way. "Oh God"! said Jon. "Do you want a million little spiders running around"!? He said. "No, but I was going to just put her in the deepest, darkest corner of the basement".I whined. "What if", said Jon, "what if one of the million spider babies got to Noah's room and bit him"? "How would you feel"? he said.

I knew then, that I had to take this woman spider away, far away from Noah. But what about the cold night, would she survive? I felt so sad inside. Every other little wintertime insect Jon didn't know about always ended up in the same spot, way in the back of the storage room in the basement. Safe to live out the rest of their life, but miles away from us.

This is the moment when I had to think fast and invented: "TESSS" ...... "The Essential Spider Survival Station". I caught our protagonist, the hairy mother spider in TESSS and apologized profusely for kicking her out into the cold night, while gently explaining TESSS's features, TESSS is made of a nice, waterproof plastic, I guess all plastic is waterproof, but especially this one. It once held only the finest of egg salad and comes with a secure lid on just enough to keep out predators and most cold, but also loose enough to let you out when ready. I put a soft, snugly bed of paper towel in to keep those mandibles toasty and a generous helping of sugar at the bottom which I thought the spider could lick for extra energy to keep her warm. Later, Jon told me that spiders don't eat sugar, but what insect have you met that didn't like a melted popsicle on the sidewalk? That's sugar.

It was hard to be so harsh and evict an innocent spider into the February night, but I did. I feel better knowing that she has TESSS though. It's still outside our door because I don't have the heart to tear down anyone's home and besides,I believe in free housing for those who need it. You never know when a needy earthworm will come along, growing a new segment after a bike ran him over a bit, just needing a safe place to rest.

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