I've always been stupid around wild animals. It's not that I don't respect them, I greatly admire them. From raccoons to bull elephants their strength and beauty mesmerize me. And therein lies the problem.
I am so curious about wild animals that, when I spot them, I often forget about my surroundings. A few years ago I convinced a few friends of mine to drive from Maine to Quebec for the day, just to get crepes. On our return trip of 7 hours, I was driving along the highway through isolated forests, when a female moose and calf crossed in front of us.
Temporarily, I was smart. I slowed down so the mother and calf could cross safely. But then my wildlife-induced stupidity kicked in. In my excitement and desire to watch them more, I pulled across the highway so I could get them in the headlights while they wandered along the far bank. It wasn't until my friends worriedly asked me to get back on the right side of the road that I realized what I had done.
I'd like to say that was the only dumb thing I've done to see animals in the wild, but I have a long list of reasons why I should have long been torn apart or pummeled to death by many a creature. Yet I am still here, sincerely grateful that none of the animals decided to take advantage of my weakness.
A year after the moose incident, I left to film lions in Kenya for three months. My friends were convinced I would end up as cat chow. Through some luck I managed to survive and thrive in Kenya's wilderness, despite several close calls with the local elephant population.
The reason I'm writing about this problem of mine, is because yesterday I was in the garden and saw a large web woven between some rocks. Before I realized what I was doing, I had a twig in my hand and was gently tapping the web to get the spider to come out of the rocks. Really, I just wanted to know what type of spider it was. Suddenly a large, thick, black spider scrambled out toward the twig.
Once I got tired of gazing at the arachnid, I looked it up in my field guide. Apparently not only was the bite of that species extremely painful, but venomous. The book strongly advised, that if bitten, to immediately call an ambulance.
It occurred to me that, while living in the country with the most venomous creatures in the world, I should tone down my curiosity.
P.S. I would have a picture of the spider to accompany this posting, but after sticking a twig into every rocky crevice in the garden today, none came out.