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June 19th, 2008 - Sierra Foothill Evening Edition

Out behind my sister's family's place in Sonora, CA is a field of rock rubble pretty much unchanged since it was blasted and broken by prospectors scores of decades ago. Of course it was one of my favorite haunts during my visit, I'd go out in the morning sometimes when the rocks were cool and just sit in one I called "The Console", sort of a bucket seat of white granite and just sit and watch and listen, along with my camera. Then I started going out in the late evening, right at dusk, looking for the gray fox I saw out my bedroom window and looking for the buck I kept hearing snort out there. Or at least I thought I heard it. You see, they live right at the end of the Columbia Airport which services the CDF fire planes, medivacs, and recreational aircraft (including some cool bi-planes). It's very quiet out there when the planes aren't running and I kept hearing this noise that I first recognized as a bucksnort. Then I kept hearing it repeat and the more I heard it the more I thought it could be somebody trying to turn over their airplane engine by hand, kind of a "chufffff... chufffff" noise. Finally in trying to sneak around in the rocks (hard to do, everything's loose and it's inevitable that you cause a mini-slide or a rock you step on pivots against another to make a loud "clank") I scared up the real buck and watched him bolt across the drywash on the airport side.
There are also a lot of rocks that have drill holes left in them (not sure if these are for TNT sticks or poles to move them around with) and these are a favorite for funnel-weaving spiders...
Like this guy. Amazing face. I think this is a "Funnelweb Mygalomorph" from the species Dipluridae, feel free to hop in and correct me if you can put a sharper point on it. Giant pedipalps like boxing gloves. These spiders sense vibrations on their webs and know if they represent food, a mate, or just bad weather. If it's lunch they engulf them in the fold of a websheet and venomize them to suck out the liquefied innards. Spiders used to creep me out somewhat, but I started thinking that they are the animals that are probably the most misunderstood because we can't seem to think of them in anything but human terms. It's gross to us to think of binding our living food in a websheet and having giant (for our body size) fangs to sting them with, then liquify their insides so we can suck them out because we have no chewing teeth. We are so far away from that, it's way off our radar screen. But it's the most efficient and practical method for their lifeform, and you know what? They've been at it far longer than we can even imagine. And what would we see thru 6 eyes? 8 eyes? Eyes that might not even ever see what the other eyes see. What do we even think we see? Does the prey scream as it's held in a web straightjacket waiting for the sting? Do we say sorry, I really hate it that I have to do it this way, but a guy's gotta eat? Do you say sorry to the Chicken McNuggets for all you had to put them thru to be able to dunk them into a honey-mustard bath?

Spiders aren't gross. They are in a dimension that we can't really say what they are.

1 comment:

Zeolite said...

I love the spider photo!

And on a side note, I do feel kinda bad about the meat I eat - I've taken to eating mostly bison meet because I rationalize fewer animals need to be killed for the quantity of meat I eat.