for Ruby Carat

She captured my heart the instant I saw her. She was a long-legged dark beauty with orange highlights in her hair. She was attempting to cross a busy road against murderous traffic and I knew I had to act fast. Braking hard and swerving to the side, I jammed on the parking brake, launched myself from the door, ran to her mid-road, and threw my hands to the sky. Traffic came to an abrupt halt. The busy travelers waited, confused but patient.

Alarmed at my approach, she halted her delicate gait. I fell down on my knees, placed my hand upon the black pavement and contrasting yellow lines and waited. Then, slowly she continued her progression, placing first one, then two, three, four and finally all eight legs of her black and tan and orange hairy beauty into the care of my palm. Her common name was tarantula but I dubbed her Elvira, the dark and mysterious.

She froze in my hand as I raised and admired her. She appeared relaxed and unthreatened. She worried me little, as I’ve see many of her family before. Too many people shudder at their sight but in the sparsely populated landscape of the high deserts their slow ambling gait through the brush, in contrast to the speedy zipping of most every other creatures, seems to invite contemplation. I can understand the horror they strike in the uninformed. They appear as two hands sown together such that the total of eight fingers work to propel and the thumbs are transformed to fangs. Small but threatening, people see them as a transgression against nature, a thing to be crushed. Though feared and hated, they have their small purpose in life.

I saw through the windshield of the nearest vehicle gap-jawed astonished faces and heard a polite reminding toot from a horn that time was passing and the impatient crushing wheels needed to continue their work further down the road. I walked to the roadside and held her aloft to allow the curious and the vexed to admire her. As the parade passed, some laughed, some squealed, some saluted with the middle finger. Then we were alone.

The low sun and wind in the brush reminded of the passage of time. Carrying her to the fence-line, her original destination, I gently lowered her to the earth. She hesitated a bit until a gentle tickling with a finger urged her to continue her migration. I watched as she made her slow circuitous, progression through the brush and weeds toward some distant, unknown objective. Where was she going? Was she in search of food, a mate, a new home, or was she simply following some indecipherable plan devised by nature? I watched until she was obscured. I then returned to my truck where it waited patiently by the roadside.

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