Half an hour ago, I was driving along the paved county road and saw my annual tarantula. Seemingly since the dawn of time, I have seen exactly one tarantula per year crossing Rocky Top Road. It is a tradition that I enjoy and uphold.
Obviously, me saying “since the dawn of time” is hyperbolic, an exaggeration to make a point, but the first tarantula I ever saw on a then unpaved Rocky Top Road was during the fall of 1982. I was a passenger in Jack McCall’s Ford pickup and he didn’t even slow down so I didn’t get a good look at it. I do remember what Grandpa said though. He said he didn’t mind tarantulas, but he didn’t like the big jumping spiders. He said one once jumped onto the neck of his horse and he was thrown. I was with Grandpa that evening to assist him catching guineas on Frank Wolfinbarger’s farm. I believe I wrote a fictionalized account of this in Murder in the Ozarks. Hard to remember sometimes.