On A Streak!

WordPress notified me that I’m on a three-day blogging streak. Is three days a streak? It seems more like a dash or a hyphen, but today’s blog makes four days, so that comes closer to a streak.

I’m also on a streak of spending time with people, joining them for community meals (which is playing havoc with my so far unstated challenge of eating more nutritious foods), but I suppose from a health standpoint, it could be argued that an unhealthy diet with people is as bad as eating good food alone — at least that’s what recent studies seem to indicate.

I’ve taken this opportunity of being among people to poll them about the tarantula migration. The local newspaper, as well as the newspapers in the big cities on the front range of the Rockies (Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo) have all printed near hysterical articles on the vast number of tarantulas that are supposed to be roaming the area.

And yet . . .

I haven’t seen any. I overheard a fellow in the grocery store lamenting that he took his grandsons out to see tartantulas, and didn’t see any. The reporter who wrote the article for the paper went out to get a photo, and he didn’t see a tarantula, either. My neighbor saw one lone creature crossing the highway in the early morning hours.

My informal poll elicited all sorts of information about the tarantulas, where to go to look for them, where they hang out, where people have seen them, (further questioning shows that their information comes from the newspapers, what people have said over the years, and what they themselves have seen in previous years.

But except for that neighbor, no one has seen any this year, and a single sighting of a single tarantula does not make a migration. So basically, the tarantula migration seems to be another case of fake news or of an attempt to induce hysteria in an unwary public. (Though truly, since few people see the creatures or care to see them, no one gets upset by the articles as they do with harder news.)

It’s possible, since the weather is still relatively warm, that these bird-eating spiders or Theraphosids are still cozy in their burrows and not ready to face what they might consider a human migration (from their point of view, the humans out looking for them might seem like some sort of annual people migration).

I suppose the bigger question here is whether it is better to eat alone, or to eat with others and ruin everyone’s appetite with spider stories, or is it better to eat alone and keeps one’s spider-induced questions to oneself.

So what does any of this have to do with anything?

Not a darn thing.

But it’s a blog, and I am on a streak.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Tarantula Hunt

Ever since I started researching southeastern Colorado as a place to settle down, I’d come across references to the tarantula migration. I was so excited at the possibility of seeing masses of tarantulas wandering around, that I wrote the dates of the migration on my calendar for if/when I moved to the area.

Well, I did move here (been here six months!) This year’s tarantula migration has passed its peak, and so far I haven’t seen a single one of the creatures.

I’d heard that they were often sighted near the Comanche National Grasslands, so I set off on a quest to hunt for tarantulas. My plan was to go to Vogel Canyon in the grasslands for a hike, even though it’s much further than I would have liked to travel for what was to be a rather short walk. The thought of getting back on a trail, however, as well as the possibility of seeing tarantulas made me discount the distance.

I followed directions, turned off the highway onto the well-marked dirt road for the long drive to the canyon, and stopped. My vintage car runs well, but it is — as much as I hate to admit it — very old, and dirt/gravel roads shake up the poor thing. I always imagine one of those cartoon-like scenarios where I am driving along, and the sides and roof fall off the car. There I would sit in the seat, clutching my steering wheel, with the pieces of my car all around me. I have been assured by mechanics that such a thing would never happen, but I can’t take a chance, especially since I when I am on my own.

Disappointed (this was the third time I went searching for a place to hike only to be stymied by bad roads), I headed back home, keeping a watch for tarantulas. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a single one.

As it turns out, “tarantula migration” is a misnomer. Tarantulas don’t migrate. They live in burrows, and when the nights turn cool at the end of summer, the males go in search of mates. The females stay home and hope for visitors. Or maybe they don’t hope. Maybe, like me, they are perfectly content to be alone. In fact, the hairy beasts aren’t even tarantulas. True tarantulas, apparently, are small wolf spiders that live near Taranto in Southern Italy, hence the name. What we call tarantulas are bird-eating spiders or Theraphosids.

Despite the name “tarantula migration” being doubly wrong, my intent was still the same — to see the so-called migration of the so-called tarantula.

Although I didn’t accomplish what I wanted, it wasn’t a wasted trip. It was a beautiful almost-fall day, the drive was pleasant, I saw an area I hadn’t yet visited, and I got a photo of the hills that the canyon hides behind.

Still, as adventures go, this was a rather tepid endeavor.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.