Friday, September 20, 2013

Autumn: The Season I Used to Love Best By: Roz Denny Fox

In years gone by I always looked forward to stepping outside and thinking, ah, the smell of fall is in the air.  Here in Arizona fall spells the end on monsoon rains and a decrease in humidity. It's walking season where most flying, biting bugs have disappeared.  It's a time when I used to open my windows and doors and let fresh air flow through the screens.  I know winter is around the corner, but I can ignore that. I am not a person who likes to be cold. Which is why autumn with temps in the 80s always felt perfect to me.

Autumn springboards the big holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the frantic run-up-to Christmas. I love to decorate and I used to love Halloween. Well, until someone decided to feature big, black, yucky spiders.  Halloween used to be jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, scarecrows and black cats with maybe a witch or two thrown in. Tell me who and when some fool elected to showcase spiders and spider webs?  No matter how much I love craft stores, when fall begins I have to stay out of stores that think it's cool to hang giant spiders from every crossbeam in sight. Last year Home Depot, of all places, had the biggest spiders I'd ever seen hanging above every aisle.  Oh, and another thing, my fall catalogues began a couple of years ago to feature Halloween spiders as their idea of home d├ęcor.  If I turn a page and see a spider, into the trash that catalogue goes now, when before I maybe would have ordered Christmas presents or holiday cards from that company.

So call me a fraidy-cat, call me a coward.  I'm all of that and more when it comes to eight legged arachnids.  Always have been and always will be.

For me the greatest drawback to living in Tucson is that summer monsoons bring tarantulas out of their underground nests.  A year ago this month in a downpour during which I picked my daughter and grand-daughters up from the airport from a late night flight--we arrived home around midnight--I drove into the garage and we unloaded suitcases. I closed the garage door and we all marched single file to the door that leads from my garage to a courtyard we had to cross to reach my front door. Being first in line I opened the side door out of the garage and there on the threshold sat a salad-plate-sized tarantula. I screeched, slammed the door shut and about plowed over down the others in my speedy retreat. My daughter, being a braver soul than I, took a broom and said she'd go out through the main garage door and in the gate and sweep said spider away.  I wanted her to take a big shovel and whack the sucker dead. She's too soft-hearted by far. So, she swept him away down my sidewalk, where the spider promptly crawled beneath my neighbor's gate. I'm still mad at my kid for not dispatching him. I swear from that day forward I never open my front door morning, noon, or night that I don't make sure my courtyard is well lit and that it's free of him or his relatives. So far so good. But people tell me tarantulas generally travel in pairs. (Great) Should I ever encounter another of his ilk on my property it will be catalyst to sell my house and move.  Now you may think that's extreme. If so you don't share my phobia. I don't feel the same about snakes, scorpions, centipedes or even Gila monsters. Only spiders, and some spider-loving-fool has ruined my once-favorite time of the year.

41 comments:

  1. Spiders are yours and fire ants are mine--pet peeves, that is. Hmmm...forget I said pet. That tarantula was not a puppy dog. Just like you can no longer enjoy the shopping experience around the holidays, I can't enjoy gardening here in the south. After three fire ant encounters, they are now a health hazard for me. Allergic reaction too strong to take chances...so I'm an indoors girl. Good thing I'm a writer!

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    1. Linda, We had fire ants in Texas and some here. You must really react to them. I know they can cause painful blisters. There may be drawbacks to some of everywhere (sigh)

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  2. LOL. I have a friend who traded cars because a mouse got into hers and she was never convinced it got out--heaven knows what she'd do about a spider.

    I'm an indoor girl, too, but I still like autumn in the Midwest. If you stick your head out the door, it still smells really good.

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    1. Liz, that's funny. Now see, I think mice are cute critters. I know they aren't safe and carry disease so I wouldn't keep one around, but I wouldn't go into hiding if I saw one. Our smell of fall sort of left us. We're back in the 100s again. The weather guys keep promising 90s. Isn't happening.

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  3. Luckily where I live, it's too cold for anything to survive from October to May:) I love the Fall and this morning it was 5 degrees (not sure what that is in farenheight) but either way-frosty:) But I had just bought new boots, so I was excited! I enjoy walks in the leaves and winter activities-tonight we are going skating:)
    Sorry to hear spiders have ruined it for you. Feel free to visit us here anytime-no spiders and definitely no tarantulas.

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    1. And where is that Jennifer--just in case I need to move. But wait---5 degrees in August. Brr. Did I mention I also hate being cold?

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    2. I'm in Edmonton, Alberta:) Minus 35 is not uncommon in January:( But-no spiders:)

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  4. I feel the same way about autumn, Roz. We lived in Tucson when I was a kid. I remember being afraid scorpions would climb under my sheets when we first moved there. Sheesh. A few visits to the Desert Museum, though, and I became fascinated with all manner of desert creepy-crawlies. My mom worked there and once drove that winding road with a snake someone found that she wanted the staff to identify. She wore rain boots...just in case!

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    1. Dawn, I know scorpions deliver scary stings. I know people who live a ways out who shake out their shoes and boots every morning. I love the Desert Museum, but I don't visit the spider exhibits. Snakes I can handle. Still your mom was a brave lady.

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  5. Oh, Roz. I can relate. Our wonderful summer here in Oregon is supposed to change today. We had a beautiful red dawn and already clouds are moving in and the first storm of the season is offshore and headed in. Our air smells like heaven. The river, the flowers that remain, wood smoke, and some perfume on the wind that smell like the Orient. But you can't walk around sniffing the air because dog spiders are everywhere. There must be a dozen across our porch, and all over bushes, across walkways, everywhere! They're about quarter-sized usually, and engineers of the most amazing concentric webs that seem quite efficient. I go everywhere with a broom to clear my path, but the ones on the porch Ron has asked me to leave alone because they have a job to do. "Think of them as Charlotte," he tells me. I can't imagine what I'd do if I encountered a tarantula. I think it's to your credit that you didn't faint dead away.

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    1. Oh,wow, Ron is as softhearted as my kidlet. Pray tell me what is their job. No way would I let them live and reproduce on my porch, I know that. Brrr!

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    2. Roz - they trap and eat other bugs that would otherwise infest us. But none of them seems as ugly or scary as the spider itself, so what's the point. Makes you wonder, though. We fear things that aren't pretty. How different as they than any other bug, except that they're scary-looking and the build their homes across our paths. If they looked like a butterfly, would we feel differently? It's apparently a philosophical Friday.

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  6. Rpz, even as a lifelong desert resident autumn has always been my favorite season -- the fun of school starting again and the promise of cooler weather make it fabulous!

    Laurie, totally there with you on skipping the scary parts of the Desert Museum :)

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    1. Okay, Laurie, you are so sweet. I'll bet you'd shoo a spider along it's merry way like Muriel's husband and my daughter. I said I'm probably the lone ranger on this phobia.

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  7. Here, David has the job of taking creeping crawlies outside. He won't kill them unless it's something like a Black Widow spider. He also loves snakes and brought one home as a pet. My screaming annoyed him, so the snake went back to his classroom. Then came rats. We kept and had some of those for years, but my asthma went through the roof. Lately he's been talking about a lizard of some sort....

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    1. Aimee - if you don't mind sharing with the dog, we have a spare bedroom.

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  8. Aimee, we have geckos all over the place here. They come and go. I had one in my house not long ago. I scrammed him out. Actually some people here think if one lives in your house it's good luck. We had black widows when we lived in Phoenix. One of my jobs on arriving at school first to open the office was also to take the spray can and spray the black widows that took up residence in the water fountains every night in the fall. Ick---when I left that job the head maintenance man wrote a funny poem about my squeamishness on that aspect of the job.

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  9. So funny, Roz. But I get it. Spiders and scorpions, oh my! Nothing will make me scream and dance faster. The lizards I like though. I think they're cute. :) On the flip of that, I have issues with turtles that we really shouldn't talk about, ha ha.

    Hope fall brings great weather and no bugs this year!

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    1. Erin, I love learning these little insights into some of my otherwise strong, independent writer friends. It's good to know I'm not totally alone with my foibles.

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  10. Your daughter and I sound so much alike! I can't stand to see things suffer and always carry even the tiniest spiders out of my house. I love keeping my windows open too and when the blue jays start screeching I know a neighborhood cat is on the hunt. Since they nest across the street from me, I stop writing and interrupt the cat. One time I even chased one that had a bird in its mouth and got him to drop it. The poor bird, even though it wasn't bleeding and it ate some of the food I gave it, when I checked on it the next morning it had died .

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    1. Oh Karen! You have to warn us HEA authors before your story ends that way lol:) I was so looking forward to a nice ending:)

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    2. Jen - it died remembering that a nice lady tried to save it. There you are. Not exactly HEA, but as close as you can come in some situations.

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    3. Karen, I'll give you A for effort. And I would save a bird, but not a spider.

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  11. Hi, Roz:
    I've seen large spiders when I was in India, but I never met one the size of a salad plate. I would probably jump out of my skin if I did. The little ones don't bother me, though. But I would spray or squash them rather than sweep them away. Although they do eat other flying bugs, I have no tolerance for them or their sticky webs.

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    1. I'm amazed that my scream didn't bring all of the neighbors running. I know there is a cosmic order for all things in the universe. Some things I just don't want in my little wedge of it.

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  12. I don't care for spiders, but the thing I hate most about recent Halloweens are the Zombies! When did Zombies become loveable? Hate them! As for creepy crawlies, it's the snakes that will make me scream!

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    1. Annette, They even have ads on TV now that tries to make a zombie sympathetic. I think they became popular in a TV program that got very high ratings. But I haven't had any come to my door in Halloween costume, thank goodness.

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  13. Roz,
    I am with you about spiders...whoever thought we should consider them a decoration should be shot or put on drugs! I opened my door one day, and there on the threshold was a tarantula not quite as large as yours, but huge nonetheless. I slammed the door shut so hard it shook. Then I got my six-foot shovel and went after the little terror. After everyone said, but their good, they eat bugs...I say it's a spider and not welcome within 10 miles of my home!!

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  14. Yay, Rose, a woman after my own heart. Maybe I need to keep a shovel inside my house. My sister asked what I'd do if I was in the house and opened the door to my front courtyard and had one sitting there. My house doesn't have an easy back exit.

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  15. Hi Roz,
    Autumn is my favorite time of the year. Living in Texas I love the arrival of cooler temps, watching football, cooking chili and soups and planning for the holidays.

    I'm not afraid of spiders, but snakes scare me to death. LOL

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    1. Linda,
      We are so opposite then. I'm cool with snakes.
      I like chili, soup and planning for the holidays, sans Halloween spiders. LOL

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  16. Hey Roz, guess you don't remember that I inherited a tarantula from my daughter, Judy. I had half the people that visited me catching moths and smaller spiders to feed him, as they will only eat live things. Who coined the phrase "dumb animals" when one fairly small sized critter had dozens of adults trained to catch its food supply! Once I bought crickets; one of the little devils laid eggs before the tarantula got him; I had hundreds of crickets in the terrarium and feared that the house would soon be infested. Alas, the tarantula kicked the bucket. I took the terrarium out and dumped it upside-down on the lawn. When I removed the terrarium, the crickets stayed in the space for days before they realized they could go on their way. I'da been catchin' that arachnid your daughter swept away.

    Willa

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  17. Willa, you heroine woman you! I didn't know Judy gave you a giant spider or I probably wouldn't have visited you. Ha! I've always been a pansy around spiders. My sister says it started when my dad moved our bathroom to the back porch when I was 6. Over my lifetime at home he moved our bathroom 8 times. Is it any wonder I'm messed up?

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  18. Ugh, spiders. I totally sympathize, Roz, because I feel the same way. I have nightmares about them still.

    But I do love fall. As the weather turns colder, I think of sweaters, soup and planning for the upcoming holidays.

    Great topic!

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  19. Syndi, we are so on the same wavelength with nightmares about spiders.
    And I have to say the people who have ruined Halloween haven't totally ruined fall for me. But almost.

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  20. Roz,
    I decorate the outdoors of my house with giant spiders for halloween. I have them walking up the walls and on the windows and even on the back of our camper LOL. I used to have one that moved on the lawn, but someone stole it! We went out to dinner in Cave Creek a few weeks ago. When we left, a tarantula was on the front step. I took a picture of it with my phone (Yup, I had to get close.) My fear. Cockroaches. Give me a spider over a cockroach any day.

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  21. Oh Pam, and I used to like you so much... I have cockroach stories, too. When we lived in Hawaii they were abundant and huge. I have no idea how they got into cupboards, but I used to plan evening meals dependent on if I opened a cupboard and a cockroach stared me in the face. Once I heard our upstairs neighbor whamming something on her deck. I opened my back door to see if she needed help. The biggest roach I'd ever seen fell off her deck and ran into my kitchen. Denny and her husband, both marines, had to turn our apartment upside down until they found and got rid of it. Out of curiosity---are some kids afraid to come trick or treat at your house?

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  22. Yes, but it's because I sit on a chair in front, all dressed like the reaper, and I have a candy dish they must reach into and a giant hand grabs at them. I love Halloween. I have a phone that rings, too, and they answer it, and a voice says, "I'm going to get you." heheheheh

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  23. Roz,

    I've never been very afraid of spiders, but I've noticed that this autumn in Pennsylvania, an entire colony of them has moved in at my place. I can't walk out my front door without smacking straight into their webs. They've begun spinning around my car antenna, too - one has even started living in my car's side mirror. I'm still not too bothered by them, but it's certainly a bit disconcerting this year. :) Loved your post!

    Cerella

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