Tuesday, September 16, 2008

kiss of the woman spider

Black widow. Brown recluse. I am willing to bet those four words cause a number of you to cringe. (For some people in my family, the word "spider" alone would do it.)

But hobo? Who would be frightened by the word hobo? It conjures up cheerful meals of canned beans and a chicken on a coat hanger all warmed by a camp fire next to the railroad track where a free man can catch the next freight to the end of the rainbow. Thus is the American romantic tale associated with hobo.

How did it happen to be the name of the star of my latest little venture into Mother Nature's teeming maw?

So, here I am trying to get the house cleaned up to get it on the market. Due to a couple years of neglect, my roses have been surrounded by ferns. Nothing to do, but trim them down and dig them up. As weeds go, ferns are some of the worst.

And what do I wear on my feet for this digging task? Sandals. Hacking away, doing my best impression of Henry Morton Stanley, I brace my feet deep in the fern to get some leverage. All goes well until I feel some tickling between the toes on my foot -- not the burning athlete's foot tickling, but the warning signs of some sentient being desperately trying to escape. The feeling that is usually followed either by the expressions: uh-oh or ouch. Words with an overuse of vowels usually denote some danger is afoot.

And it was afoot. Or on my foot. My left foot -- to be precise. I looked down and immediately recognized what I had managed to trap: a hobo spider.

Before I could get my sandal off and free the spider, I felt a bit of a bite, and she was off on her way to freedom.

Now, I have experienced hobo bites in the past. Fortunately, this time, I got away with what appears to be a warning bite. There is only a little swelling, and no indication yet of any necrosis. The hobo, like all venomous creatures, does not release venom unless it must. As is the story of my life, she did not see me as a significant threat.

And, no, this is not an excuse to avoid additional work on the house. Unless someone is handing out dispensations today.


1st Mate said...

If you were in Mexico you'd get the day off. It's Independence Day! But since you're not, yet, I recommend workboots, those L'il Abner type with laces and thick soles. And work gloves. Anyway, I salute you for the ability to recognize the spider, to me they're all just spiders--little ones, big ones and REAL big ones (shudder). You're probably lucky she couldn't jump.

Isla Deb said...

A few years ago I got an e-mail with a series of pictures of the progressive effects of a brown recluse spider bite on a guy's hand. It was horrible! I've never heard of a hobo spider but I hope it's not as bad as a recluse!

glorv1 said...

Brother, you have a lot of critters up your way. They seem to like you. You know that you are right about the romantic tale assoicated with "hobo." But when you think about it, "homeless" is the same thing and we don't think of the homeless today that way. Its rather sad. Careful you don't get bit, you'll have to go to Mexico with bandages all over your foot. You might not even be able to wear shoes or a shoe. Can you believe what I just typed? Its too early, I can't think. Have a great day Steve.

Babs said...

"As is the story of my life, she did not see me as a significant threat" Wow, that's a statement........

islagringo said...

"As is the story of my life, she did not see me as a significant threat"

I bet more than one person has lived to regret that decision!

I do disagree with glorv1 though. I don't think hobo and homeless are the same at all. One conjures up the images you described, of a happy wanderer. Somebody who moves from place to place. Homeless is a totally different thing, not always a choice. And, for most people, it does not conjure up a romantic or nice image at all.

Brenda said...

It's a holiday down here today, so take the day off. Enjoy.
Be careful of the wildlife there and wear boots when gardening.

glorv1 said...

Thats what I meant to say, Islagringo. The homeless today can't be compared to the hobo of yesterday. Its not a pretty sight, no matter which way you look at it. Just to clarify myself. Thank you.

aighmeigh said...

Spiders freak me out, so the image of that 8-legged monster on your foot is absolutely horrifying!!

Although pretty harmless, when I lived in Massachusetts, there were a lot of wolf spiders and boy! were they creepy!!

I have a good friend who is very interested in spiders and she always tried to get me to appreciate the brown recluse for getting rid of the black widows here in Indiana... Personally, I could deal without seeing (or being bitten by) any of them!

Steve Cotton said...

The terrorist attacks in Morelia last night during the Independence Day celebrations has left me stunned. I may write on the topic briefly tonight, but I wanted to get that out of the way before I responded to the comments.

Bliss and Brenda -- Boots are the solution. The only time I have beemn stung by a scorpion was while I was walking around at night wearing torn deck shoes. Of course a hole and a scorpion's stinger managed to end up in the same place. The rights footwear for the right job.

Isla Deb -- The necrotic effects of a hobo are not as bad as a brown recluse. And next to none if the venom release was low. In my case, it must have been next to nil.

Gloria -- Hobos were as destitute in the 50s as the homeless are now. However, when I was young, the few who made it to the end of the tracks in my little town fascinated me. They even taught me the chalk marks they would leave in front of houses.

Babs and Wayne -- Not surprised that the two of you picked up on the phrase that I was positive would be the center of most comments. In those words lies many a tale.

aighmeigh -- I have always loved spiders. Their webs. Their habits. Their utility. But I respect them, as well. In my familiy, there is a gender gap between the admirers and the killers. I fall on the admirer side of the line.