What's the Point?

Okay, so we know how I’ll benefit from this endeavor. I’ll gain experience in the great outdoors that will help me write a better book set in the Adirondacks. But you, my dear reader, may well be asking, “What’s in all this for me?” Hopefully you’ll gain a little knowledge, have a few laughs, and vicariously enjoy a sense of adventure. Think of it as a modern-day Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, where you get to sit comfortably at your computer screen – much like Marlin Perkins watching from a safe distance behind some bushes. I, on the other hand, will go out into the wild, ala Jim Fowler, and do all the heavy lifting in an effort to entertain you.

            Well, on second thought…

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Spiders. I hate them. Yeah, yeah, they eat bugs (in an incredibly gross way that actually has me sympathizing with the bugs), which helps keep nature in balance as part of the circle of life, blah, blah, blah. I still don’t like them. And I think it’s safe to say that most people this side of Charlotte’s Web would agree with me.


            I know there are people who study spiders for a living. They’re called arachnologists, which is an ancient Greek word that means “crazy people.” (Or else it means “Taco Bell had no job openings” – it all depends on which Greek to English dictionary you use.) How else do you explain scientists who devote their entire careers to studying spiders? Unless it’s all part of an evil plot to receive millions of dollars in government grants to conduct research to determine whether spiders creep people out.

            Well, I’ve been creeped-out plenty. Spending my summers on a lake, I’ve seen lots of dock spiders over the years. At least that’s what we called them in my family. We were on a dock, we saw a spider and we put two and two together and came up with the idea to call them dock spiders. We’re simple folk, after all – not high-falutin’ arachnologists.


  All I know for sure is that the spiders on our dock are big and fat and have an uncanny knack for spinning a web right at face level – no matter where your face level happens to be. Short, tall, it doesn’t matter because one of those bad boys will be staring you right in the face the minute you step into our boathouse. I’m a live-and-let-live kind of gal, especially when squishing something that big would be so ewwy. So the spiders and I reached a truce some years ago whereby they got to build their webs in the rafters and I resigned myself to walking in a permanent crouch position whenever I’m on the dock.

And things had been working out just fine between us. Until the other day when I spotted something on our dock post that was roughly the size of a Smart Car. I raced to put two and two together – I was on a dock, this was one freaking huge spider – but this time I kept screwing up the math. How could this creature be related to the pale, anemic imitations I’d been calling dock spiders all these years? Had I missed the news of a nuclear accident? And could Godzilla be far behind?

            Quickly snapping a few pictures using my camera’s zoom function that I’d later sell for big bucks to News of the Weird, I then raced to my computer and searched the internet under “What the @#%&?” Gruesome pictures that looked suspiciously similar to our hairy, eight-legged intruder began popping up. The captions all said “dock spiders.” Curiously, most of the images came from sites in Canada, which left me wondering about this spider’s immigration status. Not that I would be foolish enough to ask to see his green card.

            I know it’s hard to get an idea of his size from the pictures – you’re just going to have to trust me on this. A real scientist, like, say, an arachnologists, would hold up a ruler or something next to the spider to get a sense of scale. Let me remind you that I was using the extreme zoom feature on my camera. And, yeah, I could have held up a quarter so you’d have something to compare him to, but this guy no doubt would have eaten that quarter and then demanded more where that came from – this time in fifties and hundreds. Before you know it, I’d have been drawn into some nasty spider extortion scheme. And if this spider were the front man, I would hate to see the muscle.

            So, for now, I’ve given up going on my dock. Water access on lake front property is overrated anyway. And someday soon I hope to have the nerve to come out of this crouch because my legs are getting tired.


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Reader Comments (4)

well it seems to be the week for big spiders - we've been ID'ing various - ok they turned out to all be of the same family - spiders hanging out at various homes around albany.

soooooo.... how big was this actually? just from a scientific interest sort of thing - after all I do have a minor in Entomology LOL

September 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary Beth

It looks like what we have here is a female Dolomedes scriptus. It's hanging about on the dock because it likes to catch fish.

September 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHugh Yeman

That's strange... the href link didn't seem to work. Here's the page I meant to link to.

September 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHugh Yeman

that was funny betsy ' this side of charlottes web"
I enjoyed your story

October 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjennifer sulkow

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