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TRANSPLANTED IN TEXAS

Printed on July 30, 2019

Dish it out, Texas: snakes, spiders, scorpions and more

By B.A. Belthoff / The Bulletin

I’ve never heard anyone say: ‘yeah, golf is ok, I play sometimes.’ There is no sitting on the fence. You either love the game, or you hate it. I love it. I love it because it makes me concentrate on just that stupid little white sphere. It’s a four hour and fifteen-minute reprieve from life. There is no trying to remember to get gas on the way home or what you need to pick up at the grocery store. There’s only you and the very small, dimpled ball.

My latest, new experience living here in Texas occurred the other day on the golf course. I play on Tuesdays with a bunch of fun ladies who don’t take themselves too seriously. We laugh at our mistakes and just enjoy our time in the fresh air.

We were approaching the green, that’s the part where you get to putt the very small ball into the very small hole using a very small putter. I went to pick up what I thought was a leaf in the path of where I wanted the ball to roll. As I stood over it, I commented to the other ladies, “This is the ugliest spider I’ve ever seen. It looks like it’s dragging something.”

Harriet, who grew up in San Antonio and knows about these things, came over to look.

“Oh, honey, that’s not a spider. That’s a scorpion!”

Great, now I have to add that to the list of things to worry about!

She scooped it up with the edge of her putter and was about to casually toss it into the grass when I yelled out.

“Don’t you want to kill that first? We have to walk off that way to our carts after we’re done here?!”

She was totally unphased by this whole experience. Clearly, she didn’t grow up in New Jersey!

All I could think of now was the growing list of things to be aware of, including venomous snakes. I’m learning. Notice I didn’t say poisonous - as if I’m going to take the time to see if it has a triangular head or a rounded one.

I’m pretty sure I’m just going to scream snake and run for the shovel.

Fire ants: I can’t believe they float.

Gary, the alligator, that’s the name fellow residents gave the alligator that was swimming in one of our retention lakes before he was evicted and relocated elsewhere.

Asps, not a snake, but a flat, oval-shaped insect that looks like it has lots of hair. Its scientific name is Megalopyge opercularis, or you could just call it the icky, hairy bug. I only saw one on Facebook when someone else from our subdivision, who also wasn’t from Texas, didn’t know what it was and had reached out to ask.

Then there’s the Jurassic Park-sized mosquitoes that hurt more than getting blood taken; and now scorpions!

“Anything else I need to concern myself with?” I mumbled as I stood over the ball. All of that was running through my head, so it wasn’t surprising that I missed the putt.

The pros make it look super easy. It’s the farthest thing from it. I’m still a pretty athletic person, and it’s the hardest sport I’ve ever played. What makes it hard is that everything is so small – except the mosquitos, alligators, snakes, ants, asps, scorpions . . .

(New-ish Texas resident B.A. Belthoff welcomes your comments. You can reach her at babelthoff@gmail.com.)