Spiders, snakes and some other running buddies

I am not mortified of spiders.
Or snakes.
Plenty of people are.
Now, I ain’t crazy about mountain lions – an off-road biker was just killed by one in the Northwest – and I detest bears.
As I continue to jog as long as I have enough money to keep buying ibuprofen, I have seen maybe one mountain lion – on an isolated trail on the Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway a few years ago – and, thankfully, no bears (yet, even though I still have a haunting premonition that my demise will somehow involve one). I have spied a slew of other critters.
Most recently, it’s been this rat snake and black widow spider.


(While I am a fan of letting most wildlife live, poisonous snakes and spiders must die; I used my handy Buick Enclave to smush a copperhead snake recently.)
I have jogged by raccoons, possums, roadrunners, red ants, stray dogs (the biggest threat to runners this side of a bear), lizards, dolphins, and a stupid gaggle of turkeys that, in their sudden flight – it was hard to tell who scared who most – suddenly sounded like a building falling down inches from me as they flew away; it was so loud that it drowned out the Led Zeppelin that I was listening to.
While I just noted that I kill poisonous creatures, I have not slain the black widow yet.
It’s attached to the inside of a guard rail I stretch at when the ibuprofen begins wearing off.
They are pretty easy to detect: Black widow webs look like unmade beds, all askew and messy.
I see this spider a few times a week. Perhaps I owe it to mankind to kill it. It’s the kind of philosophical question that runners ask themselves as they jog along waiting for Van Halen’s “Running with the Devil” to cue up in their ears.
The snake was perfectly safe. Perhaps my reputation proceeds me as being snake friendly, but this serpent did not budge as I moseyed past it.
These guys are great at eating rodents – another critter many folks aren’t fond of.
Personally, I’d rather have a snake around than a rat or mouse. I’m happy to report that our Crackerbox Palace is remarkably vermin free – and that’s probably because of these snakes.
I just hope they come to my defense when the inevitable bear encounter arrives…

Mark K. Campbell is the Epigraph editor, and he once killed a (very angry)water moccasin with a haydite block – on the first throw.