Berto, a friend who lives nearby in Cirali, came to visit today. He’d just found a tick on himself, so we got to speaking about various bugs. The chickens were scratching around in the background, and Berto commented that they probably ate their fair share of ticks. They do, I said, not to mention that they got our grasshopper problem pretty well under control last summer. Of course, the thing I appreciate the most about them is their appetite for scorpions.
I was unaware of this before coming down here, but a chicken who encounters a scorpion will waste no time in using their beak to swiftly break its back, leaving them with a tasty treat. Anyway, while we were on the subject, I regaled our friend with tales of last summer’s run-ins with scorpions, including the memorable encounter that I had with a fat white scorpion that I found under my pillow while searching for my mobile phone one afternoon (I squashed it between two pieces of firewood that happened to be lying around).
The conversation left me thinking about scorpions and wondering when they would wake up. They go to sleep under rocks and in the soil during the cold months, so we can relax a bit and not have to look for them everywhere. When it is cold out, we are most likely to find them if we lift up a rock, or while digging a vegetable bed. That is in contrast to finding them in the house, say, crawling on the outside of the mosquito net while we’re reading in bed, or sitting inside a t-shirt left overnight on a bench in the garden.
I soon had my answer. As I walked down the path to the red house, where Ali and Baki were already in bed, I found myself staring down at a big fat black scorpion, sitting perfectly still, caught in the beam of my flashlight. Now, around here they say that the black scorpions are not as poisonous as the white ones, and that big ones are less poisonous than small ones, but I must confess that I was frozen to the spot. I’m afraid that’s what happens to me when I see black scorpions on the path at night (this is maybe the fourth time it’s happened). “love….?” I called, and Ali, who was only half asleep, answered almost immediately. He probably thought I was going into labor because all I talk about lately is how the baby’s head keeps pressing on my cervix, or that’s what it feels like.
In a cinematic moment of bad timing, my flashlight died, and I imagined the scorpion getting away, or worse, heading for me, but Ali was there before either of these scenarios played out, and he skewered it and took it up to the chicken coop. (We do not, it must be said, harbor very neighborly feelings towards scorpions. I do not feel the same way, though, about snakes. Their appetite for rodents and natural shyness make them ideal garden inhabitants, I think.)
Thoroughly creeped out, I made a beeline for the house. Naturally, before getting into bed I had a good hard look under my pillow.