It's a 90 degree day and Garrett loves water. So I, being of the school of thought that boys will be boys, they WILL get dirty, they WILL ruin their clothes, take my son out to soak himself. What better to do than water the grass and play with the sprinkler and the hose? Out we trod to the front yard where, over the course of fifteen minutes, Garrett has managed to turn his adorable outfit into an edifice for the safe harboring of one muddy mess. While we had been playing, er muckifying ourselves in the front, I had the sprinkler going in the back. After all, green weeds look better than brown ones. I scooped Garrett up, pulled off his shorts and onesie and carried his diaper clad rump into the backyard. My eventual intention was to see if he enjoyed running through the sprinkler, but as it had been watering the same spot for over fifteen minutes, I decided to move the sprinkler first. I turned the water off, carried Garrett over to the sprinkler (the concrete was too hot for him and he had burst into tears), moved the sprinkler, and walked back. I sat him down in a puddle so he wouldn't burn his behind.
Now, Garrett has always been fascinated with our "hose holder" for lack of a better word. It's one of the ones that you attach the hose to and you can roll it up and it has places for your different nozzles, etc. He likes to stand up and bang on the hose and play with the remnants of spider webs. It is this second one that keeps me from enjoying the toy as much as he does and generally I force him to abstain from such delightment. I digress. Back to Garrett being in a puddle.
I walk over to turn the water back on as he happily splashes himself in puddleness. Beck is wandering around, licking the puddle, licking Garrett, being golden retrieverish and, as I turn back around, I see Garrett happily pulling up on the house of hose. And then.
It's a good thing I'm only two feet away because my ten month old explorer is squeaking and smiling and REACHING HIS OUTSTRETCHED HAND IN HOPES OF MAKING FRIENDS WITH THE BIGGEST BLACK WIDOW I'VE EVER SEEN. Now, I don't know if "big" makes a difference if you're a black widow trying to poison my ten month old son, but it makes a difference when you're the mom and the hour glass on this arachnid's abdomen is a centimeter long. (Not even exaggerating by the way). I snatch up my son as his outstretched fingertips fail to grab the spider by about three inches. Three inches is nothing when you're a highly motivated baby. Three inches is, like, I don't know, a nanosecond to the catlike quickness Garrett exudes when he wants something. And he wanted that black widow. Why wouldn't he. She had a plethora of fun looking legs and a shiny hourglass to explore. And I'm sure her fangs and subsequent poison would have been just delightful in tandem with an immature immune system. In any case, my heart stopped for a second but restarted once my offspring was safe in my arms. However, his interest had sparked the interest of one Beckham (the aforementioned golden retriever). As I stood gaping at the monstrosity of spider and wondering what to do in order to annhiliate her, my dog decided to stick his nose in her general vicinity. Luckily, he responds to a stern, "No, Beck!" He only got his furry sniffer about two inches from her when he retracted. One might assume that with such near molestation from both a baby and a dog, that husband eater would have retreated but no, she was happy to lounge lazily in the shade of the hose house.
Until. I got a stick. Now, this spider was one clever girl because her web was all over this hose reel/handle/every possible nook and cranny on the thing. Silly me, being that I grew up in Ramona, to assume that the web I had been ignoring was several old spider webs and not the formless and irratic web of a very present widow. Because of the web and the nooks and crannies, I wasn't sure how to get her. I just hoped she was a stupid black widow (venom and all, it's pretty senseless to just sit there while a baby and a dog try to have their way with you). I, presonally, had the good sense to put the dog in the house. So, barefoot and holding my nearly naked baby I rammed the stick at her. And just like that (imagine me snapping my fingers) she disappeared. Neat.
Luckily, Garrett had been acting really tired and I hoped for a rare late afternoon nap out of him. Into the house I went. Into his room we went. Into his crib he went. And he actually went to sleep. I put on shoes. My plan was to flood the woman out and then stomp her to death.
25 minutes later she was dead.
I called her Charlotte.
I'm well aware that Charlotte (of Charlotte's Web fame) was a barn spider and not a black widow but it was the first name that came to mind. She was one tough lady. I brought out the big guns, the hose nozzle that has optimum pressure. I assessed the situation. I smashed two enormous egg sacks. I looked everywhere for Ms. Charlotte. I couldn't find her. So I started blasting. I blasted long. I blasted hard--so hard, in fact, that I was terrified she'd get knocked loose from her hiding place and fly back at my face, as much of the water was doing. Finally, after a good, long while of this I said, "Where the heck are you?" And she appeared. She just needed prompting, apparently. Climbing unhappily out from the side that I thought she was not on. Tricksy little cannibal. I ran to get a jar. You see, by this point I had a great deal of respect for this spider. She survived a very long bath. I knocked her off the side of the hose house and dropped a jar on her. This is how I discovered that Charlotte was about three inches from end of back leg to end of front leg. The black widow spider can span 1-3 inches. I really did have a huge arachnid on my hands, or, rather, in my jar. I was going to save her and make Troy kill her...I just kind of felt bad for her by that point and I didn't think I could bring myself to do it. But when I got ready to slide the lid under the jar, I realized just how mad/terrified/annoyed she really was and a trip to the ER for a Charlotte bite did not sound like my idea of fun. I mean really, I had grown somehow fond of her over the last 20 or so minutes and she hadn't bitten my dog or my baby and I'll give credit where credit is due but she ate her husband for no good reason so what might she do to me for the whole flood-trap-me-in-a-jar incident? After all, she never promised to love, honor and cherish me. So, when I noticed this agitated state I took the jar off of her, took her picture, apologized for what I was about to do and stomped. I feel the death was more than likely immediate as her insides are now stuck to the bottom of my shoe.
I feel bad but I can't go having black widows living within the reach of my child. Especially freakishly enormous ones. Because this story could have ended with a little boy who had a very bad bite. Thankfully it didn't. Sorry Charlotte.
*Disclaimer: I know that only some black widows eat their mate. I realize that it is the exception not the rule, but painting Charlotte as an evil cannibal makes me feel better about her murder.