Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Scream of Nature

Here at our house, we are finally tackling some long postponed home improvements.

Currently we are having a crew replace all our old broken and fogged up windows with new environmentally groovy ones.  The work of taking out (and then putting back in) windows requires a certain amount of rearranging ourselves and our things, depending on what is in the way of the work for any given day.

That meant recently the Hub invested a fair amount of time dismantling our Military-Industrial-Entertainment complex so work could begin on the window immediately behind the spot normally occupied by the ginormous television set.
First there is a window, then there is no window, then there is.  Thankfully,  we'll have our television crutch back in place by dinnertime, tonight.  Phew!
As these things go, or more accurately put, sometimes don't go, the particular window in question did not actually get replaced yesterday as was originally scheduled.

Which meant, (dun, dun DUNNNNN!) the Austin Agrodolce household went without cable for an evening.

I tell you what, nothing reveals a family for the shallow, conversationally impaired group they are, quite as efficiently as the removal of the normal center of attention.  It was epically revelatory.  But not in that good way.

Sooo....  We had a regulation dinner, minus the opportunity to shore up our self esteem by loudly calling out the answers (and criticizing overly conservative Daily Double bets) to DVR'ed Jeopardy questions in between bites.

We ate.  We talked, a little.  I cleared the dishes.  We sat.  We stared at the disconnected television as if it would magically offer distraction.  We checked the time and realized A) I was the only one with a book to read and 2) we had hours to go before it would be time to sleep.

Because those are your garden variety "normal" evening options, yeah?  Eating dinner, watching television, and then sleeping.

We sat some more.  We talked about playing Scrabble.  The Hub wasn't interested in a game, he'd already fallen into some internet hole.  After what seemed an eternity we checked the clock again.  Eight minutes had passed.  With determination, despite the fact of it still being hot, my daughter and I decided we'd brave an evening stroll around the neighborhood.

Off we set.  Along the way we observed all the usual evening sights.  Folks hand watering, people walking their dogs, multiple mini-herds of whitetail deer providing free-style landscaping.  Then we saw something much less than usual,  Playing out in the middle of the street we noted a prime example of Nature-Red-In-Tooth-And-Claw.

What had at a distance looked like a clump of leaves working its way slowly across the still sun-warmed asphalt, we spotted what was actually a Tarantula Hawk, slowly but surely dragging a no-longer-protesting full grown Tarantula across the road. (insert updated chicken/road joke versions here)

I didn't get a photo because I didn't have a camera.  I didn't go back to grab a shot because honestly, I was repulse-fascinated in a way I thought it best not to indulge.  I will admit the sight of a super-sized wasp dragging an equally super-sized spider, especially knowing what said wasp was up to, was impressive.

Frankly, folks can disparage the violence and gore on TV (and that's just the evening News, probably) but there is nothing I've seen for a long while that made me so immediately wish I had not stopped to take a closer look.
I feel you, Edvard.
It isn't that I was "for" or "against" the wasp or the tarantula either one.  I'm not a huge fan of tarantulas. Truthfully the facts of their habits have never quite overcome my myth-based childhood fear of them.  At the same time, I'm certainly no wasp advocate.  Though I'd sort of admired Tarantula Hawks as an abstraction, a yellow jacket sting on my wrist when I was a four year old instilled in me an instinctive need to never (!)  remain in close quarters with wasps.  Especially not 2-3 inch long wasps known to have the second most painful of all insect stings.

There was something about the idea that this one particular tarantula was going to have to die (and rather horribly) to support a baby tarantula hawk's coming into the world.  It simply rattled me, and I still can't say why.


Kathleen Scott said...

Oh man, wish I could have seen the Tarantula Hawk. I've never heard of them before.

Your area is more civilized than ours but has wildness too.

TexasDeb said...

Kat: Growing up in Austin of course I grew up knowing about tarantulas. However, I'd never heard of their predator Tarantula Hawks until a couple of years ago when I spotted one nosing around one of my garden beds. I went inside and did an online search for something like "the biggest wasp I've ever seen". They are fearsome looking even when they aren't dragging a tarantula.

The Curious Holts said...

OK, wow. I was NOT expecting the story to end like that. CRAZY that you guys caught that.

I laughed out loud at the minutes ticking by. It's amazing how quickly the time passes in front of this here box!

YEA on windows!! YEA YEA.

TexasDeb said...

Mama Holt: Yea for windows is right. It is amazing how much nicer it is to look out through a new window after years (and years) of peering through fogged out/scratched up old ones. Kind of like that first day after the doc fits you with specs. We are all "hey...look at what we can SEE now!".