far too much writing, far too many photos

Years back, beginning when I was four and too young to resist or escape, I found myself trapped in the woods with my family for ten or eleven weeks of adventure/torture each summer. (I’ve written about this before: no electricity, no plumbing, no kids my age in the vicinity (well, there was one, but she was too much for the pudgy, wildly insecure me of those years).) My sleeping quarters during the first three or four of those life-shaking summers: a cot in a pup tent, shared with my older brother Terry and far too many representatives of the insect kingdom. Including big brown and black arachnids, an inch to an inch and a half across, who spun dense webs in the tent’s upper corners and lurked there, motionless, waiting for food to stop by. Didn’t matter if we cleaned them out — within a few hours they were back. So we just let them be and tried to look elsewhere. Because if we happened to let our nervous gaze slide in their direction, there they’d be, two or three of them at least — big and still and creepy-looking. Wolf spiders, we called them. Don’t know if that’s what they’re actually called or we made it up because they were big, dark and a bit hairy. Doesn’t matter — that’s always been the name I’ve known them by. And I’ve never seen them anywhere else but our woods in upstate New York.

Here in northern Vermont, the short warm season brings an explosion of bugs, all of them partying as hard as they can before the cold weather returns and brings the fun to an end. Including an impressive array of spiders, of all sizes and configurations — but never the big bruisers that haunted my childhood’s summer nights.

Yesterday: I return home after a long afternoon/evening of fun in Montpelier and Burlington. I pull into the garage, get out of the car, unlock the door to the laundry room/mud room and step inside, my fingers finding the light switch, the room flooding with sudden illumination. Revealing, motionless in the middle of the floor, the first wolf spider I’ve seen in years and years. The sudden light/activity apparently catching it flat-footed, it responding by hugging the concrete, remaining absolutely still. Just like the ones I remember. I study it for a moment then move quietly through the room, watching to see if it twitches, moves around, goes for cover.

Nothing. Dead still.

I go upstairs, grab a glass and a piece of paper, head back down, find it still there. I approach slowly, gently bring the glass down over it. It stirs then, looking slowly around. I slip the paper under the glass, capturing my first wolf spider. And during all this, it investigates the changing conditions, seemingly without panic or fear. Looking like a critter accustomed to being in control. Used to being the threat, not to being threatened.

A few pictures get taken, after which the intruder gets escorted outside, dumped into tall grass off the garage end of the house. Out of sight, not yet out of mind.

It’s summertime in Vermont, a season that brings all kinds of houseguests. Some get to stay a while, others don’t. That’s life. I don’t imagine this critter will have any trouble taking care of itself.

Madrid, te echo de menos.

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