Summer’s End ... by Cindy Beck

© Cindy Beck, 2008
(Keywords: Cindy Beck, summer, zucchini, bugs, insects, spider, humor, Latter-day Saints, LDS, YourLDSNeighborhood.com)

Summer’s end … that time of year when baseball-bat-sized zucchini show up on your doorstep and pesky insects invade your house in preparation for cold weather.

It almost makes you feel nostalgic.

For many years, I lived in an older home. Wait, maybe “older” is a misnomer for a house built in the era when Native Americans lived in teepees. “Ancient” might be a better term for it. There was also an old, detached garage that sat on the property—one perpetually full of spider webs.

Okay, so it wasn’t really a garage, because pioneers still cooked over open fires when the place was built and they didn’t need somewhere to park their cars. We just called the thing a garage because it made us feel more uptown.

But, I digress. Yesterday, I was at the old house, cleaning, painting, and boxing up the last of our belongings to take to our new house. I reached over next to the range and saw something on the underside of the oven’s handle.

“What the …?” I jumped back. Being alone in an empty house is spooky enough without strange things showing up in odd places. “Okay, who left a weird black feather here?” That shows you how spooked I was, asking questions aloud with no one there to answer.

Just as I reached over to pull the feather loose, something stopped me. Maybe the warning came from the Ancient Ones whose teepees used to clutter the property. Or from the pioneers, whose handcarts used to park in my garage. Then again, I think it’s more likely it was the Holy Ghost.

At any rate, I stood for a moment, then put on my glasses and inspected the feather. It had thin, segmented legs. Now, that’s something … a feather with kinky black legs.

I’ve perfected many useful talents in my life. I can roll my bottom lip and cross my eyes, looking like a sea bass. I’m adept at spilling something at the dinner table at least once a week. However, my best talent lies in being a chicken. There was no way I was touching that black, whatever-it-was, without a long stick.

Walking to the empty pantry, I searched for a weapon. Ah-ha, just the thing! Picking up the half-broken yardstick that leaned in the corner, I held it like a sword and advanced on the feather. With a parry and thrust, I jabbed … and the feather ran up the yardstick.

Giving a shriek that echoed through the empty house, I whipped the yardstick through the air, hoping the feather-turned-spider would fly off and splat against the wall. No such luck. Instead, it dangled from a sticky thread that it managed to spin, and hung on like a kid on a Tilt-A-Whirl. With a mad dash, I ran out the back door, flung the spider to the concrete, and raised a foot to squash it.

That’s where the story should end. Really, I knew it should end there, and told myself so, but it didn’t do any good. The entomologist in me just had to see exactly what kind of arachnid was so shiny-black, fat, and long-legged.

Using the now-dangling-precariously yardstick, I flipped the creature over. It flipped itself upright and ran toward me. “Aaack, you stupid spider!” I yelled, flipping it again.

That’s when I glimpsed it—the telltale sign of the red hourglass. I only paused for a heartbeat before taking action. I might be an entomologist, but I’m an even better chicken.

And that’s why the feather-turned-spider is now in the Happy Hunting Grounds.

What's playing in my head: The Theme from Spiderman.

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Nichole Giles said...

Oh, man. I'm glad you didn't touch it! A black widow bite is just what you need to help make moving easier. It's a good thing you're a bug expert.


Anonymous said...


I had never seen a black widow spider until I moved to Utah - another thing I do not particularly love about this state! I can handle mice, lizards, snakes, birds, earthworms all just fine - but nothing makes me squeal and run faster than a spider!!