Tarantula in the Shower

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Our weather has been delightful this past week since it tried to rain, three days of clouds stacked against the Sierras, some thick and dark shrouding our bare foothills but bringing little moisture. For two months we’ve been discussing signs of an early fall, though not convinced that the sycamores may be turning early due to the drought or that Dry Creek ran only 30 days last season, peaking a 12 cfs on April 27th, not enough to contribute to the Kaweah River three miles downstream.

Moods have lifted with the change in temperature as we look for signs of encouragement. The Rock Wrens are back, debugging the window screens. The first Pin Tails and Mallards have arrived on our irrigation ponds. Quail and Bobcats move closer to the house. It’s a perfect time of year for the outdoor shower as the sun dips behind the ridge leaving a wild assortment of yellows between the long shadows of our fruit trees.

And the Tarantulas are moving, beginning to dodge traffic on Dry Creek Road. They have become totems of sorts to most ranchers, precursors to rain. Short of reverence, we reserve a special place for them on our list of wild things, swerve around them on the road. Even shower with them, if need be, rather than disturb them.

Naked before her, I found it interesting with my eyes closed, rinsing the shampoo lather from my hair, that I worried more about stepping on her than any other contact, as if she could leave her perch beneath the soap dish and get underfoot in just a few seconds of my not-seeing. Thinking, I suspect, she was hidden, she didn’t budge, and after the stress of two dry years, none of us is looking for trouble these days.

5 responses to “Tarantula in the Shower

  1. I used to do some work at the Nevada Test Site. Each spring and fall you would find tarantulas on the move to and from the hills and unfortunately they had to cross the road to the Yucca Mountain Project. I remember one time there were so many of them that from a distance it looked like the road was moving.

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    • Great story! I remember one fall, 25 or 30 years ago when I was buck hunting, it was something like that here, like the ground was moving. Never seen them that thick since. Was it a wet or dry winter after, was it a sign, I don’t remember. A good reason for the blog. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  2. I remember as a kid fishing at Big Bear with my dad. There was a gentle rain just ending as we left the cabin to go to the lake. The ground was covered with frogs as far as you could see. No way around them it was a squishy drive to the lake.

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  3. Wonderful shot, John. We were thrilled to see at least 4 tarantulas crossing the Dry Creek Road on our way down from Grant Grove on Monday. May they be harbingers of some good fall rains SOON.

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  4. I love this post, John, and the homage you pay to this sometimes frightening looking animal. When I moved to the Sierras and was tired with the late summer heat, neighbors told me to watch for the tarantula, sign of fall. I was initially horrified but like you I learned to revere their arrival as a sign of change. Hope for rain still.

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