Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hannah: 1 Spiders: All of the other points


No. Just, no. I won't do it. I won't walk through spider webs. That fat, bow-legged cane spider, yellow-backed, practically a rodent, dangling from his butt-silk off my wrist. I shook him off, hard, surprised I didn't shake my arm off at the elbow. I felt badly too, I mean I DID walk right through his front stoop, made a mess of rebuilding work for him to do. I didn't WANT to hurt him, or hurt his spider livelihood. I don't want anything to do with them at all, in fact. 

Give me moose and bears any day. At least I hear them coming. 
My brain knows how to handle the above scenario. Make noise. Keep an eye out. Create distance. Maybe climb a tree. None of which can solve the spider issue.

Noise? Who care — not spiders. They eat f*@king bees for a living. Watch out? FOR WHAT? They're practically invisible and completely silent. Create distance? Would love to, but they are everywhere. Climb a tree? That's like their country club. 

I am in Hawaii. For which I am very grateful, because it's lovely. So please don't take any of these complaints as complaints. My very favorite thing to do in Hawaii is hike. After a few months of rainy, prime growing weather, the trails are thick with foliage and the critters that lurk there. My goal has been to get through the jungle brush on the lower mountain, and access the more open pathways that go up to Molokai's higher climbs. I've tried as many trails as I can find, but have to turn around when it gets really bushy. Because I can't handle those invisible webs between the grass and branches, that cloying softness wrapping itself around my face and arms and legs. The second I feel it I have to do a full body check for spiders. Which probably looks crazy. No, which I KNOW looks crazy. Drop the backpack. Rip off the tank top. Shake out both aggressively. Turn a couple hitch-stepped circles as I try, like a dog after a tail, to check my own back for creepy-crawlies. Brush off legs, arms, neck, hair. Do a few full body shivers, some cringing. Put tank top back on. Continue walking. Because of, you know, courage.

I should add here that my get-up isn't exactly awe inspiring . Somehow, in my five trips to Hawaii, I've neglected to bring a small day pack for carrying water and sunscreen on hikes. (Your favorite on-island past time is hiking and you're completely unprepared for it? WHAT? Yes.) My solution to this problem this time has been to shove all my stuff into a cloth Safeway bag, and wear the handles like backpack straps. It's not the best, especially when I bend down to pick something up and things start falling out, and it doesn't exactly give me that experienced hiker LOOK, but it works. 

I'm lucky no one was within ear shot on that first day. I was well into one of my usual trails when I realized the greenery and spider content was definitely up a notch since last visit. After the first few webs, I started walking slowly, watching carefully. But that only meant I started to see how many webs there really were. There might have been some whimpering following that, but I persevered, because of all my fancy courage. Finally, after watching the cane spider dangle from my arm I stopped, saw I was surrounded by webs and their plump guardians, and I fully gave up. I relinquished my courage, that false toughness I'd been mustering, and I turned and made tracks back toward open ground. The more spiders I saw, the more my disintegrating composure snowballed into terror, and by the time I reached open meadow I was running and shouting "Ew ew ew ew ew ew!!!" Like a little girl.

I vowed to never return to such brush again. But since that day, I have found one trail that only requires me to traverse a small section of tall bushes. The road up to it is wide, and once I'm through I get to the hillside's open climb up to the ridge and endless spider-free hiking. I've decided it's worth a few hundred feet of heebie-jeebies, and with the solid safety method I've developed it can be accomplished with minimal screaming.

In one hand I hold a stick, preferably one with branches of many angles so as to cover more air space. I extend this stick at arm's length, and move it rapidly from the ground to up above my head and back down. With my other hand, I cover my face. At a rapid march, and with one straight, flapping arm and another face-covering arm, I look at best like a shy, frantic Nazi. But damn it, it gets me to the hillside. For which I am rewarded, after much climbing, with this:

I'm not a graceful traveler. I'm not in the best shape and I rarely look cool while I'm doing the things and going to the places. But I usually get there. I am capable of that. Sometimes a person just needs some creativity, and some "courage" (made up word that means I'm not hiding in the shower but sometimes I want to.) Basically, there's no shortage of reasons to hang back, but then you miss the view. So I will get up each day, lace my hiking boots, put my arms through my Safeway bag handles, pick up my spider stick, and carry on. 

And I decided I get a point for that. Hannah: 1