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Trip shot: Tonto National Monument

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 Leftover shot of cactus in the hills of Tonto National Monument in Arizona.

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Trip Shot: The Jar

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Apache Junction Scorpion Preserve. (c)2017 J.S.Reinitz

 When my mother asked me to bring her the mason jar from the desk of her Arizona home, I knew what lurked inside.

We were in Arizona. It was her grandchildren’s first visit to the state.

It had to be a scorpion.

I passed the jar to my son — age 14 — and daughter — 10 — and my mother recounted how days earlier she noticed the cat toying with some small critter outside her home. She separated the two and noticed the scorpion didn’t have a head, she told us, so she assumed it was dead. She covered the vermin with a plastic yogurt cup and, aware the stinger may still be active after death, used a piece of cardboard to scoop it into the jar and screwed on the lid.

My son tilted the jar, studying the creature inside.

“Oma, his pincer just moved. I don’t think it’s dead,” he said.

Curious about the possibility the movement could have been some post- mortem nerve reflex– as seen in detached spider legs — he tipped the jar again, holding it up to the light. There was more movement, legs, the stinger. I doubted the involuntary twitching could continue days after its demise.

“You know,” I added, “I don’t think scorpions have a separate head. I think it’s just part of their thorax.”

 

(c)2017 J.S.Reinitz

 Having concluded that the creature in the jar was still alive, and probably very hungry by this point, the conversation turned to his fate. My son was all for finishing the cat’s work and killing the vermon. My wife felt the same.

But my daughter, the fourth-grade vegetarian, took the live-and-let-live stance.

Grandma started off on the harsher side of the capital punishment issue but acquiesced to my daughter’s leniency argument. However, she didn’t to want to return the poisonous critter to the yard where it could reek havoc with her cats let the neighbors. She didn’t want to release it near anyplace inhabited, and I doubted the local animal control authorities ran an impound for displaced scorpions — all waiting to be adopted to a good home.

So, I volunteered to return the critter to the wild. I drove past the edge of town, where the roads and street lights give way to scrub and cacti and mountains. There I found a place that made a great de-facto scorpion preserve.

I walked a ways down a trail, opened the jar and flung the scorpion at a bush.

Fly free, little critter.

Free to frolic with all the other poisonous creatures of the desert.