No Ordinary Hawk
Posted on May 5, 2014
So I’m up on my mom’s roof watching the sunset. It’s where I go most evenings now to catch my breath after a long day of dealing with the Carefree mess. It’s where I attempt to connect with what’s left of myself and, if I’m not spent, with Rocket-man and my sis too.
There are about 10 steps up to a small “observation” area on the roof. There’s just a small, weather-worn glass outdoor table there now (used to be chairs too but the intense heat of the desert sun ruined those some years ago). On this evening I recall I’d told my sis and bro-in-law just weeks before that we needed a hammock up here so that we could lay comfortably to watch the dancing stars at night instead of standing and getting achy necks in the process.
On most nights during every visit over the past 15 years I’d go up to the observation area to watch the sunset. And, if sis and family were visitiing
we ‘d all hang out together long after the sun went down, heads cranked towards the night sky waiting for a star (or stars) to fall. Sunsets in the desert are amazing; there is rarely a late afternoon that goes by without a spectacular show of reds, oranges, pinks, purples, blues and grays. I’ve spilled many tears on the roof during moments of reflection over one thing or another….and I’ve whooped cries of joy over seeing a shooting star or the twinkling brilliant stars of the big dipper. It’s been a magical place …mom’s roof top….always offering a splendid end to the day, no matter what drama was thrown our way. I will sorely miss this breathtaking ritual when all is said and done.
Therefore I am making a point of watching the sunset every evening while I take care of business here in Carefree. I had my glass of chilled white wine in one hand and my iPhone in the other as I made my way up to the roof. I decided to call my sis to check on her before the day was done. She’s been as stressed as I with all that is going on in her life, not to mention the added weight of our mom’s situation on all of us.
Despite the three hour time difference, she picks up the phone on the second ring and is happy to chat for awhile. As I recount the day of all the trials and tribulations over our mother, a movement catches the corner of my eye. I look downstairs towards the pool and see what looks like a very large insect from my vantage point. I continue to talk to my sis and decide to walk down the steps for a closer look.
Oh My God!
“Oh My God,” I say to sis almost dropping my phone in the pool (this would be my brand NEW phone, as the previous one got dropped into the pool just two weeks before!). “I can’t believe what I am seeing!”
“What’s wrong CC,” sis says with alarm in her voice.
“There is a large black wasp literally dragging a tarantula around the pool!”
“What?” says sis. “No way.”
“Yes! Oh God….wait….,” I say struggling to find the photo app on my iPhone without hanging up on her. “I’m trying to take a picture. You’re not going to believe it,” I say. I quickly took several photos with my phone and then realized the easier thing to do would be to switch to FaceTime and let my sis see the unfolding drama for herself.
“Wait,” I tell her. “Let me put you on FaceTime so that you can see for yourself.” Once done I try to get a little closer to the wasp; I’m holding my phone as close as reasonably possible (and given that I am terrified of most insects and particularly spiders, I’d say that was mighty brave of me!). Meanwhile sis is just as incredulous as I at seeing this wasp drag something that is three times it’s own size and for quite a long haul around the pool.
The wasp continued dragging the tarantula completely around the perimeter of the pool. I kept following the wasp while holding the phone out as close as possible. Then the wasp let’s go of the tarantula who appears to be dead (all legs pointing upwards towards heaven!) and starts buzzing around…at which point I jump back in retreat, making my way to the opposite end of the pool. I’m thinking (rightfully so) that I’ve been made and therefore I’ve royally pissed off the wasp. I continue watching for a few minutes while excitedly talking to my sis. Then the wasp goes back to the paralyzed tarantula and begins to drag it anew….towards a bed filled with pebble rocks.
Sis wanted me to run inside and get my Canon camera but darkness was fast approaching and there was no way I wanted be stuck outside in the dark with these characters. I bid my sis goodnight and then went to tell my mom what interesting event I’d just witnessed. Mom proceeds to tell me something which I think is entirely wacky so I had to check it out for myself.
A quick Google search confirms what my mother shared, which is: The wasp is called a Tarantula Hawk and it just loves tarantula’s but not necessarily to eat! No ordinary bird– hawk obviously, the female Tarantula Hawk paralyzes it’s enemy (the tarantula) with her stinger that’s up to 1/3 of an inch long and drags it back to her den whereupon she bores a whole and implants a single egg into the belly of the tarantula…carefully mind you because the goal is to keep the tarantula alive as long as possible. Once the larva hatches the offspring dines upon the tarantula.
Folks, I absolutely loathe spiders but I can tell you I’m feeling mighty sorry for the tarantula. What a terrible way to go!