Friday, December 14, 2012



for Ruby Carat

She captured my heart the instant I saw her. She was a long-legged dark beauty with orange highlights in her hair. She was attempting to cross a busy road against murderous traffic and I knew I had to act fast. Braking hard, I swerved my truck to the side of the road, jammed on the parking brake, launched myself from the door, and ran to her mid-road. I threw my hands to the sky. Traffic came to an abrupt halt. The busy travelers waited, confused but patient.

Alarmed at my approach, she halted her delicate gait. I fell down on my knees, placed my hand upon the black pavement and contrasting yellow lines and waited. Then, slowly she continued her progression, placing first one, then two, three, four and finally all eight legs of her black and tan and orange hairy beauty into the care of my palm. Her common name was tarantula but I dubbed her Elvira, the dark and mysterious.

She froze in my hand. I raised her to be admired. She appeared relaxed and unthreatened. She worried me little, as I've see many of her family before. Most people shudder in horror at their sight. But I find their slow ambling walk through the brush, in contrast to the speedy zipping of most every other creature, to invite a relaxed contemplation. I can understand the horror they strike in the uninformed. They appear as two hands sewn together such that the eight fingers work to propel and the thumbs are transformed to fangs. Small but threatening, people see them as a transgression against nature, a thing to be crushed. Though feared and hated, they too have their small purpose in life.

I saw through the windshield of the nearest vehicle the gap-jawed astonished faces and heard a polite reminding toot from a horn of the passage of time. The impatient crushing wheels needed to continue their work further down the road. So I stepped to the roadside and held her aloft to allow the curious to admire and the vexed to curse. As the parade passed, some laughed, some squealed, some saluted with the middle finger. Then we were alone.

The low sun and wind in the brush told me the day was waining. Carrying her to the fence-line, her original destination, I gently lowered her to the earth. She hesitated in my hand for a moment, until a gentle tickling with a finger urged her to continue her migration. I watched as she made her slow circuitous, progression through the brush and weeds toward some distant, unknown objective. Where was she going? Was she in search of food, a new home, a mate? Or was she simply following some indecipherable plan devised by nature? I watched until she was obscured. Then I turned to my truck, where it patiently awaited my return.