This Relationship is Not for the Squeamish

When I first learned that the man who is now my boyfriend was a biologist, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Everybody does. When I tell people he works in rivers and in other outdoor spots, seeking and catching snakes and frogs and salamanders and the like, they express happy surprise that a person could actually make a living in such a way.

Kevin is one of the few people I know who earns money doing exactly the thing he loves and was born to do. There is a painting hanging on his son's wall featuring a lizard in the foreground of a thriving river scene, detailed and accurate. Kevin painted it when he was still in high school. Who does that? It's so interesting to me that he still loves to create art that features the creatures he is called to study. So many people spend good portions of their lives in search of their passions; his have been there all along.

I am not called to creatures in the way that he is. I'm not hot on the idea of handling a frog or a fish or a bird or any number of the other things I've seen him so naturally come into up-close contact with. I appreciate animals...just...from a little distance.

I do love, however, that I'm learning so much about animals from Kevin and that my 4-year-old son is, too. Yesterday we were at a shop where a cube-shaped glass case sat atop a table, displaying jewelry. My son said to the shop owner: "Where is the animal? Isn't there supposed to be an animal in there?" I'm guessing he got the idea from these, the four such glass cases in our home:

Tupac, the 23-year-old Horn Frog
Kingsley, the (hiding) California kingsnake
Molly, Baby Jr. and Drag-ron, freshly named fish in the tank Kevin gave to my son on his 3rd birthday
Assorted (mostly hidden) fish in the beautiful 50-gallon tank
I've enjoyed learning about all these animals, as well as Kalima the cat (the first cat I've ever lived with)

She's a sweetheart, otherwise I would have never wanted to share the space with her!
Lately, Kevin's interest has been piqued by a new kind of creature. Out in the field all spring and summer, he encounters many different life forms, and he's been captivated by spiders recently. That's all well and good, except that the captivation sometimes takes the form of collecting. At the moment there are about 20 vials sitting on his desk, each containing a unique spider specimen suspended in a solution (oooh, love that alliteration), waiting to be gifted to California Academy of Sciences for their collections. Still all well and good.

And then there was this...

Last week I came home from work and Kevin told me he had a surprise. He revealed a (very thin, I must emphasize for dramatic effect) sandwich bag in which was kept this "surprise":

Wolf spider, fresh from the fields of Livermore


I can't say I'm super thrilled at the thought of this little dude taking up residence in an old fish tank in our home, but then part of me is. My son saw it for the first time and said, "cool spider, Kevin!" I like that he's getting the early start with the natural world; that was definitely not a part of my experience. We all watched the spider consume a cricket the other day, which was a truly fascinating experience. And I love that Kevin's son, having been raised this way, embraces all things creepy and crawly. 

I may not ever get to that point, and I can't say I'm dying to help him capture more 8-legged friends (though I did catch one and save it for him as a sort of welcome home gift (what a strange combination of words)), but I am learning to be comfortable sharing the living space with other sorts of living things.

Anything that causes me to grow and expand my horizons that is not dangerous or unhealthy is exactly what I've signed up for. Bring it on.

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