I love this quote by Margaret Atwood. It's so clean and earthy and safe. In short, nothing like the everyday experiences in my garden. At the end of the day, I not only smell like dirt, but like sweat, too, and lots of it.
But what of the smells at the beginning of each day, you might ask? For me, the smell is one of distinct fear. I kid you not. That's how you know I must really love gardening. I wouldn't do it otherwise.
Now let me preface all of this by telling you that your first thoughts were probably accurate, too. There's the 'dew upon the grass' scent, and the smell of gently sun drenched roses, too. Wet earth being met by the first touches of the sun, yada yada yada.Yes, it's all of it there.
But do you know what else is there? Black widow spiders. And lots of them.
I don't like spiders, guys. I really, really don't. I mean, like, REALLY. And black widows are my least favorite. And in Southern California they're alllllllllll over the freaking place. Can't stand 'em.
Last week when I was cleaning out an old flower bed, I flipped over a large, old, outdoor pot...and yeah, there were two large widows RIGHT.THERE. They made a run for it and I started trying to smack them with my spade. I never saw them again. No clue if I hit them or if they escaped to scare me another day. My money's kinda on the latter of these possibilities...
So anyway, because of this particular "affliction" in my garden, I have developed a particular technique (in addition to wearing some good gloves) to avoid getting bitten. I call it the "Scoot, Scoot, Drag". I don't use a hand rake, so my fingers do the raking in the dead leaves and weeds as I garden. You never know what you're going to find or awaken with each raking, so I make two quick scooping rakes towards me and then, if nothing on eight legs starts running at me, I make a final grab to put detritus type things into the weeding bucket. So far it's been working and I've gotten almost the entire front yard cleaned up and de-weeded.
But even with a good system in place, things can fall (or crawl!) through the cracks from time to time. Like they--IT--did this morning. Across the bare portion of my wannabe-Birkenstock-clad-foot.
I kid you not, guys, I really think my heart stopped. I really do. And I FROZE, too. I couldn't breathe OR move. And I was like,
(Entomologist in me kicks into gear)
"Is that even a widow?!"
"Is it...stopping on my foot...?!"
(Complete WUSS in me kicks the entomologist in me clear out the door.)
"Doesn't matter what it is!"
So I start trying to crab crawl away from my own attached foot, whilst simultaneously and recklessly smacking at self said foot. I missed twice, saw it (the spider, not my foot) was gone (MAYBE?!), got to my feet, back stepped and tripped over a raised paver stone, flailed wildly, and only then realized I was making guttural noises like a charging silver backed gorilla.
You know, your basic garden spider moment. Ha ha!
Oh my living HEART! What a moment. And as you can imagine, I was crazy jumpy for the next four buckets full of weeds, too. I can only hope at least one of my neighbors caught the fantastic show and the myriad encores that followed. I must have looked like a jumbled up marionette in the hands of a frustrated toddler. Ha haaa!
Oh! And I did track down the spider in the grass, and it was NOT a black widow. Rather, a black house spider or funnel web spider of some kind. I think funnel web (not the uber deadly, Australian type. Just a normal type.)
So, gonna garden in some closed toed shoes from here on out.