For the past week our neighborhood watch program has included a cluster of eight to ten turkey vultures in mid-migration. They hunch in the topmost branches of nearby cottonwood trees, surveying the streets and, I assume, tallying all the cats and small dogs in the area. Every hour or two they fling themselves from the still-bare branches, circle in the air for a time, and then choose another perch a block or two from the previous one, where they then rest, as still and studious as understudies for the role of gargoyle on a French cathedral.

I first saw them last week as I raked my garden patch before planting this year’s set of sugar snap peas. At the time they were circling ominously over the next block of houses, apparently waiting for something to die. Now they lie in wait in our next-to-next-door neighbor’s cottonwood, forty feet in the air, facing our house. If they didn’t portend death and destruction, I’d enjoy how seriously they take themselves, all the while looking like giants at a tea party, over-sized and out-of-place on the thin, bent branches on which they’ve chosen to balance.

Instead, I’m becoming nervous. You see, this has been quite the week, and a wake of buzzards* watching over my vicinity does not help. I’m certain that they know these last few days have weakened me and are just waiting for me to keel over and provide their next meal. Indeed, by Wednesday I felt as if I’d been hit by a truck and left for the predators. By Thursday I almost envied that fate. Late yesterday afternoon I slogged in the door, arms full of work I’d dragged home from the office, and immediately collapsed on the living room couch, hoping the vultures wouldn’t think I’d finally bought the farm and come for the celebratory feast. The first half of next week is looking like more of the same. I know they’re not killers and a human is some pretty big prey, but I’m afraid to sleep now, lest they misinterpret my actions as death and I become buzzard food.

In other news, a few days ago I did manage to stomp this spider in its first encore performance in over two months, so there is that. And, no, there’s no proof that this is the very same one that terrorized me lo these many months ago, but this is what I choose to believe, so speculation and actual facts are not necessary. This, by the way, is a different incident from the one in the previous post. (In addition to attracting vultures, tourists, and yippy dogs, our town is a haven for spiders of all stripes and sizes. It’s truly delightful — if you happen to be an entomologist.) No, in fact, my cats wouldn’t touch the one I killed, even after it was dead.

The vultures might, though. If things get really bad next week, maybe I’ll find the spider’s body in the trash and toss it outside to distract them while I limp away in the opposite direction. That may give me a little time to recover. Seeing as they know where I live, sticking around here may not be the best of plans.

*Yes, a flock of buzzards is really called a “wake”. I loves that oh, so very much.