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 The Black Widow

 

Knew what it was, even before I took a closer look

 

 

"You got any deer up here?"


"Yea, we’ve seen several does, mostly along the edge of the woods. They don’t come in too close cause of the dogs."


The young plumber is an avid hunter, even lets his beard grow for the hunting season, part of the ritual.
With eighty year old plumbing that’s been patched and redone more times then you can count, a good plumber is a necessity. Got lucky, let my fingers do the walking thru the yellow pages, came up with this one first try. Does good work and always comes right out when I call. With Bob being out of the country so much, that’s a comfort.


This wasn’t their first visit. He and his helper had already done quite a bit of work for us.
"Your pump’s bad. Need a new one." Didn’t surprise me, the old one looked like it had done it’s fair share of pumping. No pump, no water, so the work began.


Now the pump is in the basement. So most of the job was done down there. They came up to check the well by the side of the house every now and then, but the dirty, sweaty work had to be done at the source of the problem.


"There’s just dirt down there!", my daughter exclaimed after her first visit to the basement. Was kind of a shock for a girl who grew up in the arms of neat, clean, building code inspected and approved suburbia. She was right. When the heating system was upgraded to a coal furnace, the crawl space under the house had been dug out to accommodate the furnace and the coal supply. Never was finished off, just a single square of concrete put in to support the furnace. Now with the advent of electric baseboard heaters, only that concrete square and gapping unused heat ducts remain. The door to the outside is kept closed to discourage entry of various animals, wild and domestic - the only other openings are a small window at one end and a coal chute at the other. Perpetual springs, of which we have an abundance, seep thru the sods walls, keeping the area damp to wet year round.


"We have a water pump at the barn, will that work?" Had used it when we lived on the river to water the yard. After removing the bad pump, the plumber tried ours - no go. So out that one came and in went one of theirs. For some reason that one didn’t work either. The day drug on, afternoon set in, bringing with it considerable warmth. Sweaty and hot from the job at hand, the plumber took off his shirt and absentmindedly laid it down on the pump stand.

"Try it one more time", the plumber instructed. I turned on the taps - water in a strong, steady stream - success at last. Their second pump was installed and working well.


The job completed, he and his helper started gathering up their tools. The shirt was carried up to the patio and ended up on a chair when the plumber’s attention was distracted briefly by something his helper said.


Coming out of the house, as I walked by the shirt something caught my eye. Was no more then a slight movement in the folds of the shirt. Knew what it was, even before I took a closer look. Went to the little room off the patio - got a Mason jar.

"Ever see a Black Widow spider ?", I ask the plumber when he came for his shirt.


"No", he said as he peered into my Mason jar. "Where’d you get it?"


"Off your shirt", I said.


In his line of work thought he would have encountered one before. This specimen was a magnificent creature, the picture of poise and grace. Our basement being dark, damp, and secluded is perfect for her. Evidently, she had wandered onto his shirt in the basement where he had left it unattended, then been carried up later. The Black Widow is poisonous, but not generally aggressive. She likes her privacy. Am sure she would just as soon have gone unnoticed and made her escape back to her home - had I not seen her.


The plumber took her home to show his wife.

 

 

Last updated 23 February 2010

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