Yesterday’s kayaking experience was less than successful, so today I decided to go to the beach. I packed a bag with a book and a few cool drinks into the basket of my bike. I grabbed a beach chair that had been sitting in the carport, and propped it on top. The minute I hit the sand, I regretted forgetting my camera. The surf was churned up with a strong off-shore wind. Definitely not a kayak day.
I walked my bike through the deep soft sand to a spot most remote. I tend to stay high toward the sea oats, where most beach goers prefer to be closer to shore. I dropped the chair to the sand, and unhooked the basket. I rested my bike against the tall grass and ran the lock through the front and rear tires. Someone could walk away with it, but certainly couldn’t ride away on it.
My beach chair is a rather nice lounger. It’s a tri-fold, made of canvass. It’s the type of beach chair I’ve always wanted. Ironically, I hadn’t used this chair in quite some time, as I’d been taking the chair that fits into a sack on my kayak. So I opened the chair, first the top and then the bottom. My eyeswere drawn to a cottony substance in a corner on the top portion that resembled a web. Closer examination saw detached legs from some sort of insect. I was startled suddenly when a spider emerged from what appeared to be nowhere. This was a very erect and strong spider. I had never seen a spider that looked like this, before. I’ve seen my share, and am always aware and on the lookout for the brown recluse.
We had a short episode of hide and seek, where the spider would run down to the shady side. I would open (or close) the leg of the chair to expose the spider to the sun. I wanted it to run. I did not want it on my chair, I did not want it anywhere! Finally, I turned the chair on its side, and the spider was cast a few feet aside.
Back to the business at hand, I grabbed a dried sea grape leaf and scraped off the web-stuff on the chair. Can you imagine having sat on that spider!? Now, I’ve never seen a brown recluse, but I’ve heard all the stories. Throughout our game of hide and seek, I looked for the violin pattern on its back – the trademark of the brown recluse. I did notice several markings that I would describe as orange-yellow dots on its back. Could that be the “violin” pattern?
I glanced to the side, and the spider lay there, in the sand. I spread a towel onto the chair, took another glance at the spider, and stretchedout and closed my eyes. The sun was hot, the breeze was strong, and this felt good.
I wished I had a camera. At the least, I wished my cellphone had a camera. I would like to have a picture of that spider, to identify it. My thoughts stayed on the spider, so I opened my eyes and sat up. I looked over to the spot where it expired. Immediately I saw a red ant circumnavigating the spider. Then two other ants came running in. Then there were four, and the four systematically turned the spider a fifteen degree turn. More ants came across the hot sand and numbered a couple of dozen. I opened a cool Red Stripe Lager, and sat back and watched the show.
I’m no fan of red ants. Again, it’s one of the hazards of living in this environment. I recall when my kids were babies, how troublesome it was. Red ants are nasty. But I have to say I marveled at a perfectly executed disassembling plan by these ants. One by one, the legs were carried off. Not aware of the anatomy of arachnoids, I am unable to identify what went next. What I did notice, however, was the manner of collective consciousness that existed. They worked together with an amazing understanding. Ants from ten feet away traveled across the hot sand. They dug up sand under the body of the spider, in order to turn it over. Little by little,the spider became none, and the ants had done an awesome days work. By the time I dumped the “spittle” from the bottom of the bottle, the last few scouts were policing the grounds, for any remaining spider.
Of course I googled spiders like crazy when I got home. Best I can figure, it was a brown widow. I never heard of a brown widow spider before today. I have to say, that I’m particularly appreciative of the fact that I did not immediately act to swipe away the “stuff” on the chair. A brown widow has a nasty venom, and it would not have made for a pleasant beach day. Still, ever on the lookout , for the brown recluse..
The itsy, bitsy spider climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain, and, washed the spider out
UP came the sun, and, dried up all the rain, and,
The itsy bitsy spider, climbed up the spout again.