Lunch Box Pets

by kfrego

Our family enjoyed living in Silver City,NM. Nice people, good schools, and more small town than a city. When not working, Linda and I would load up the kids and go camping on the Gila River, visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings, and explore the Mimbres River area. There were many old mine workings to explore near Silver City. We often rode to nearby Bayard and watched the elk as they grazed among the pinion pines. We enjoyed getting out with the kids as much as they enjoyed the wide open spaces. The kids had been camping and hiking trails from the time they were very small. We taught them to respect animals, deserts, and forests. The critters, snakes, and gila monsters weren’t to be feared. Just don’t mess with them.

During the summer southwest New Mexico gets thunder storms and showers caused by monsoon air currents from the Gulf of Mexico and sometimes associated with the Sea of Cortez. The storms drop a significant amount of rain, but normally don’t last long. When the storms hit late in the afternoon or in the early warm evening the water would displace a lot of the high desert creatures. Many of them would migrate to the pavement on the road between Silver City and the old town of Pinos Altos. As I drove home from work I would look for tarantula spiders seeking refuge on the pavement or slowly crossing the road. I would stop, pick them up, put them in my lunch box, and take them home. A little rear prodding with your finger and they would climb slowly into your hand.

The first one I brought home caused quite a stir with Linda and the kids. We put him on the kitchen table and I let him crawl over my hand and walk up my arm. The kids loved seeing the tarantula, but kept a respectable distance. It wasn’t long before all three of the kids would help clear the table and get a seat when my lunch box had a new tarantula. They would play with them and handle them without fear. As for Linda, she would much rather never see another one. When the kids tired of playing with the ugly old furry spiders we would take them outside. We never had any bites from the tarantulas. We did have a few casualties early on when a spider would move too fast while crawling up one of the kids arms. The reflex jerk and loud shriek would send the poor spider to the floor. They wouldn’t survive.

Linda wasn’t a tarantula person…………but they were a great learning experience for our children.