The Further Adventures of Swait: Conquest of the Back Lot

I like Florida a lot.

Driving back from work this past Thursday evening, I had to drive through one of those bada-boom skies-fall-out half-hour rains that hits regularly. As I crested a hill on NW 16th Avenue we (my traffic mates and I) hit a large patch of sunlight, which is not to say that it stopped raining, but rather that the cloud cover had broken far away, where the afternoon sun could reach through to hit us. The fat raindrops were falling straight down, and glistening as they did, and splashed up as they hit the ground, and a thin vapor was rising from the hot road as well: and suddenly we were all driving through a two-foot-high rainbow wall. So beautiful.


Yesterday I decided to walk through the land behind our apartment to the street immediately south of us. The landlord had recently cut down the trees and bushes right up against our little parking lot, making it easier to get into the ferny undergrowth behind them. This lot behind us is only about twenty-five yards deep, and I figured that since I was wearing jeans and heavy boots and needed to go somewhere while I smoked my pipe, I should just once walk through this tiny patch o' wild in the middle of Gainesville.

Last winter we had a banana spider infestation. This is a picture of a banana spider, taken in White Springs, just north of here:

Well, it wasn't really an infestation, but they were a little too close to the apartment for my comfort, so I eradicated the complex of webs...after three months and the help of the cold. There were initially a half-dozen of the big mamas, stretching across a six-yard gap between two trees. You could throw a one-pound branch at one of the webs and it would just hang there. Mighty spideys, no doubt.

So I was leery of spiders as I dove into the fernage and sub-tropical spikeyness, but figured I'd pretty much just dash across after avoiding a few spider-webs and pushing aside a few branches. Instead, I kept doubling back or walking sideways as I repeatedly ran into big spider-web complexes (not just banana spiders, but all sorts, usually not so harmful looking, I didn't recognize...I'm not a spider-knower, but bananas are easy to spot) and searched for gaps between branches that weren't bridged by webs. Finally I got right up to the road, but could not find a way seemed as if every single space between tree trunks or branches was taken up by webs (is it more profitable for spiders to be right up against open spaces, like having a storefront on a busy street?). At one point I thought I'd found an exit, but the afternoon sun had almost decieved me: as I stepped forward, I felt a light resistance against my pant leg. Looking down, I saw a bevy of little brown spiders hanging out at shin level; I backed away. Eventually, after scuttling sideways for a while, and crushing some saw palmetto which I'd wanted to avoid stepping on, I found an egress.

Almost stuck in the twenty-five yards deep lot behind my apartment complex. P'sh.

I can't imagine trying to go through there in the dark.