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Plantidote, Wed July 20, Marietta GA

I bought a flat of watermelons, squash, & cantaloupes this year to populate the space over a forty foot ditch I dug and filled in for some other reason. The squash is underperforming and the watermelons too, but we've had a new fresh cantaloupe for breakfast every day the last two weeks, and I can see about that many more out there.

When they turn from gray-green to yellow-brown they're ripe, and they've had the good manners so far to ripen only one or two at a time, thank goodness. I remembered to take the little flip videocam out when I picked one this afternoon.

I still had the video cam in my right hand when I turned the melon over to brush off the dirt before bringing it in. Had to turn the camera back on.... there was a fat little black widow spider there on the underside, clearly identifiable by the row of bright orange spots down the middle of the abdomen. Kill it and flip it over, and you'll see an hourglass pattern on the belly.

My wife left her garden shoes outside a few days, thirty feet away from the spot, and a black widow made a home inside one of them. They are inoffensive creatures most of the time. I understand you basically have to make them bite you by first cornering the things and then rubbing up against them, like in a shoe. The spider bit her, and she had to be hospitalized, trouble breathing, paralysis, inability to walk and so on. It was no joke, but she got out of the hospital the next day.

For most of my life, I've tried not to kill spiders. After all, they eat flies, don't they? But this time I got the shot, since I still had the camera in the other hand, then brushed the spider off (not with my bare hand, either) and killed it.

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Submitted by lambert on

OK, I'm dying to know: Why the trench?

And did you do any processing on the video?

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by brucedixon on

a few years ago we converted the two car garage to a bedroom & bath with closet, an extra living room, and a tiny office. This spring we finally got around to installing the bathroom fixtures, sink, toilet & shower. I had to dig the trench from the edge of the concrete slab the ranch house sits on to the sewer hookup, about forty feet, maybe a little more, slightly downhill between two and three feet deep. It probably didn't have to be that deep, but I needed the exercise.

And at the end of the project there was a forty foot zone ready for planting, expanded a little toward the sunny side. Also it's crudely terraced. I need a pickup truck to haul all the crap needed for proper terracing.

The video is completely unprocessed. I had it in my head to video picking the melon. But a couple steps after cutting the camera off I turned it over to brush the dirt off the bottom... melons live outside on the ground till they're ready, y'know.... and there was the spider. Cut the camera back on, and got the shot. Quickly. Didn't want to hold the thing that long, really. Don't need to spook the spider into running up my arm and biting me.

I just laid the segments end to end in Cinelerra and output, them as an MOV file. Lost a little resolution, but the spider shot was not really in focus. You can just make out the orange spots on his (or her) back.

"If you want that good feeling that comes from doing things for other people, then you have to pay for it in abuse and misunderstanding" Zora Neale Hurston, from Moses, Man of the Mountain

Bruce Dixon
www.blackagendareport.com

Submitted by lambert on

My totally hidden agenda!

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

I am so jealous, Bruce!

You can keep the spiders, though -- hope your wife is okay!

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." -- Albert Einstein

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

Until reading this, I had no idea that black widow spiders were prevalent in GA! I don't think I've seen a single one in 20 years. I grew up in CA, and there, black widows were well known, dealt with carefully. I had been more worried about brown recluses, which are/ were not part of CA life.

Wow! So sorry for your wife's misadventure- I know from CA that a black widow spider bite is no joke (thankfully not by direct experience). Jeez! I hope her recovery progresses.

Best,

VG