The sun hacked its way free as I meditated on an upturned bucket under the walnut, beside a velvety Johnson jumper. Tiny tarantula of vermillion and black, with a solid red abdomen that marked him as male, his four expressive eyes tracked all possible threats.
Jumping spiders have an intelligence – indeed, a personality – that, together with their teddy-bear plush, makes them improbably adorable. They only deal their bee-sting bite when threatened; failing that they'll opt to run. (Or jump.)
I once shared a kitchen counter with one for months, and quite missed him when he left. We peopled each other's silence, and stayed out of each other's way.
(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson. Photo of Phidippus johnsoni courtesy of Ryan Kaldari and Wikimedia Commons.)