A Few tales from the web!
The opening posts to this new series are in tribute to Britchy of Bitchin’ In The Kitchen due to her most recently entitled What a Dilemna and her absolute love and fondness for this charming species!
Adventures with Henrietta the Huntsman
“A Really Good Mate!”
Today l want to tell you about the first spider l had as a pet, you will note l haven’t said the only spider l have ever had as a pet, because there was one other who will be gracing your screens soon enough, just not today, because l am telling you about my first date with one!
Once again we are in Australia, this time it is in Springvale, Victoria and this time it isn’t about a deadly ‘spider per se’, this is not saying they don’t produce a venom because they can, but they are generally regarded as a safe spider to humans any way, perhaps not if you were of the ‘pest family’, such as cockroaches and crickets!!
Most assuredly not then!
Henrietta the Huntsman was a love of mine, truly she was. She was gorgeous in my eyes, although to her, l, l, l, l, l, l, l, l and l may have been seen as different. Yes she had 8 eyes, yes she at times walked like a crab, and yes she was a big girl and she was quite protective of me!
I was 10 years of age when l first spotted her and it was an awesome love at first sight, well my singular sight anyways. Unlike other spiders, the Huntsman are not the devout killers of their males during the courtship process, so quite possibly this may have been a factor in our relationship, although there was never ever any funny business between us, it was purely platonic.
I met her, one dusky sunrise, as the humidity was just starting to creep into the day. She was peering at me from over the top of a rock in the … yes you guessed it, rockery! At the time she was only about a half inch long – well her body was, her long, long legs were around 3” a piece, and she was simply sitting on the rock enjoying the sun as indeed was l. Not that l was sitting on the rock, but l was admiring the day … which again is not entirely true, l was once more bug hunting!
As l approached the rock, all she did was simply shift her position and look at me, she didn’t scuttle away, but simply looked at me. She was, l came to learn known as a banded huntsman, a nice greyish brown with stripy legs, quite the fashion for the early 70’s!
I sat down next to the rock, which trust me when l say this, was something l wasn’t allowed to do, especially as l was wearing shorts, because there were some quite nasty pluckers on the ground – like bull ants, red backs and occasionally snakes! But the grass wasn’t long, in fact it was sun burned! There was none there, it had been scorched away, so l could see a fairly good distance all around me and knew l was safe.
I was absolutely fascinated and enthralled with her beauty at the same time, and at once respected that this little spider, well not so little, but admired her tenaciousness for not being in the slightest bit worried about my presence.
In fact, furthering my belief that we were to be friends, what she did next surprised me, but she suddenly and quite fast too … sprang into my lap and then proceeded to crawl up my body to my arm and then sat there looking at me, me, me, me, me, me, me and me. She didn’t bite me, or do anything nasty, but simply sat there. So the only option l had was to extend my hand over to her and see if she wanted to get on?
Which she did, she then crawled up my right arm and promptly sat on my shoulder. That was it, l was hooked, and she had me at whatever the spider greeting for hello is!
My parents were NOT so thrilled obviously as l am sure you can imagine, but as luck would have it, when l rose from my sitting position and with said spider still on my shoulder, and walked into the house, my Mother who shrieked and ran away, but my Father was talking to one of our neighbours who happened to know quite a bit about crawlies and he was like really cool about it all.
“Blimey Rory, you have a friend for life there mate! She’s a beauty as well, pretty aren’t they? By the way, she’s a Sheila mate, she’ll protect you a good un, and great for the ‘ouse. She’ll get rid of all the nasties, and keep the ‘ouse clean. What a find and what a beaut, Whaddyer gonna call ‘er?”
“I was thinking of Henrietta the Huntsman actually, Mr Jameson.”
“Beaut! Told you once my little cobber, just call me Jacko, alright?”
“Alright Jacko, thanks.”
Well what could my parents say? Answer, nothing, so l was allowed to keep Henrietta. She had a special box made for her which l kept in my bedroom which she happily lived in when she wasn’t with me, but at night she was allowed free roam of the Loungeroom, not my bedroom, because Jasmine, my cat liked to sleep with me at night, and l didn’t want the two to get into a tangle!
Henrietta was even allowed to go to school with me most days, Australian teachers were pretty cool like that back then, probably not now. She served me well as a companion when at school, because l used to get bullied a lot, but when she was with me [yep on my shoulder], my bullies left me alone, but my friends thought it was really cool and were always pleased to see her and she loved the attention.
I had Henrietta for about 2 years as a pet, and she did get bigger, roughly about an inch long and her legs got even longer to about 5”. She had two moults during her time with me, which is basically the process of their aging.
It was a sad day indeed when she died, and l was heartbroken for quite some time. I came back from school one day and found her dead in her box, according to Jacko she was a ripe old age and had lived a good life with me away from any predators. She had a huge burial, and for weeks afterwards l sat by her grave and talked to her. I really missed her.
“But she was a really good mate!”