It’s not serious: I don’t like spiders and snakes

By Ted Blankenship | November 29, 2023

At a recent dinner party, I mentioned that when Dorothy and I lived in Coffeyville, we not only had to contend with copperhead snakes but large, hairy spiders, too. I was referring to tarantulas.
“Ah, we don’t have tarantulas in Kansas,” said someone at the table.
Well, it turns out that we have lots of them, especially in the prairie and wooded hills of southeast Kansas, where Coffeyville is located.
I have had at least two encounters with these arachnids, one real and another maybe imaginary.
The first was on a Sunday after church. The preacher and his family were visiting us for dinner. We lived on a hilly seven acres that ended on the east end at the Verdigris River. The whole place was Ozarks-like.
We were waiting for dinner and the preacher and I were sitting in the living room. There was a four-by- eight-foot planter built into the floor. The preacher was gazing at the flowers.
“That looks like a really big spider,” said the preacher.
It was a tarantula, and he (or she) was reared up on his or her hind legs, a sign of spider pique. Entomologists say the spiders aren’t usually dangerous, and their bites are seldom fatal, but can be very painful.
I decided to err on the side of caution, ran to the back porch and grabbed a two-by-four. I didn’t ask how the preacher felt about taking a spider’s life. I just squashed him (the spider).
Just so you’ll know, the tarantulas that inhabit Kansas are Texas Browns.
Some of them visited me one lazy afternoon in the same house. I was gazing at the living-room planter when I heard what sounded like a tiny steel guitar.
A large, hairy spider was at a little microphone singing a song I could just barely hear:
Oh, I’m a rootin’ tootin’ Texas Brown,
And I just came into town,
Don’t mess with me, you Dude,
I can turn you into food,
I’m a rip snortin’ Texas Brown
In my daydream reverie, I saw another spider dancing the Texas two-step, which took him several hours because he used all eight legs.
As I noted above, we had copperhead snakes in Coffeyville, too. Everyone told us that when they were annoyed, you could smell them. But they didn’t say what they smelled like.
So, one day when Dorothy was looking for rocks for her garden, she came running toward the house. She said she had smelled a copperhead. It turned out to be a gas yard light that was leaking gas.
People in the know, say the snakes smell like cucumbers.
I’ve always wondered whether a big bunch of copperheads would smell like a salad. I hope I don’t find out.
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