a rainy weekend and J's new hobby

It was a rainy weekend, but the boyfriend and I were happy to be stuck inside, rearranging our house in all sorts of ways. We got some Chinese lanterns to put up. We found a place for my newly-framed print from the Met. But most importantly, perhaps, was that despite the rain, J has found a new hobby. I was peacefully reading on our living room couch late Friday afternoon when I received an urgent, “Baby LOOK!” from the front door. When I arrived outside J pointed out a praying mantis sitting in a flower bush, lazily munching on a dead butterfly. “Gross,” I told him, and I meant it. I’ve never liked those huge green bugs, with their jaunty gait and smug little faces. But for my boyfriend, this was the beginning of an adventure. This was the beginning of an education.

He quickly procured my digital camera and began not only taking pictures of this beautiful act of nature but also of a variety of other insects. He researched on the internet and was able to identify the “Hummingbird Moth” which imitates the actual bird, and the species of our plant, which attracts such a plethora of bugs.

And this was the weekend of all weekends for such a hobby to arise. The things that were in store!

A dead squirrel in the front yard sent J on a mission that yielded even more than he could have hoped. He had to get rid of the thing without me seeing it, thank the lord. And he did so in a very gentlemanly fashion, guiding me around the atrocity with hands over my eyes when I came outside.

But J’s disposal of the creature led him on an amazing search of the woods behind our house. After he’d done the job he forced (and I mean forced – I didn’t want to explore the rainy forest after the squirrel incident) me to come see the green meadow and “secret” path to the creek that runs behind our neighborhood.

It was easier, he concluded, to thrash through the woods than go down the street (a thirty-second trip) and access the creek the way everyone else does. In addition, he had taken a good number of pictures of the creek’s risen water level due to all the rain, documenting, once again, the wonders of nature.

He says he’ll be forging a way through the wilderness soon. For now I will continue to use the nice wooden stairs at the end of our block.

But the best was yet to come.

While moving a box from the garage into the kitchen, J suddenly exclaimed, jumped back, and his eyes grew wide when a tiny creature fell to the floor. A black widow spider, the real deal, had entered our household. He showed me the hourglass pattern on its back, and we looked up pictures on the web to confirm.

Spiders have never bothered me much, even this one, especially after reading that while black widow bites are rather unpleasant, they are rarely, if ever, fatal, and don’t tend to cause permanent damage. Besides, J had cleverly caught the thing under a glass on the floor.

Why? Pictures!

He got a number of good ones, cautioning me each time he left the room to view his snapshots on the computer that I should watch the dogs so they wouldn’t release the thing from its see-through confinement. Finally, after the wildlife was properly documented and saved on the computer, J killed our spider. I felt a little sad, it having been so brazenly used for our viewing pleasure, and so quickly disposed of. But then again, who wants a bite which invokes cramping pain and nausea?

Later on in the weekend (the specific timing of each unique find escapes me) I spotted another big spider (of the non-poisonous sort) in a gigantic web outside the front door. I had just gotten J to leave the house after a number of attempts – “Are you ready, yet? Ready to go, baby? I’m down here. I’m ready. Are you ready to go yet?” – when I, in a moment of poor judgment, pointed the insect out.

“Look,” I said.

Hushed silence. And then a long breath and quick response.

“I’ve GOT to go get the camera,” he said. Damnit.

But after several brilliant shots of the evil-looking spider suspended in its web, we were off, a rich catalogue of our experience in the residential neighborhoods of Carrboro now safely ensconced in J’s hard drive.

The next day, the huge spider, like the black widow and murdered butterfly before it, was gone. Luckily, we’ve got the pictures to prove it. There is, I admit, a good deal of interesting wildlife all around our new digs. I saw a snake on the sidewalk when walking the dog the other day and failed to tell J until several hours later.

This was a mistake, marked by a look of utter confusion, and of course the question, “Why didn’t you tell me?”