As the weather has gotten warmer and warmer here in Gifu, I am constantly reminded that the spiders here are insanely crazy-huge. Everyday, I walk carefully up three flights of outdoor stairs to my apartment, avoiding the myriad cobwebs that lurk in the corners of the staircase (both at floor- and head-level. Each morning, I get down to my bicycle and brush it free of yet another set of cobwebs.
Beware of monstrously large spiders. At least they're not this big yet this year, and I will hopefully be gone before they get this size again.
However. It turns out spiders are not my only foe.
Today, after school, I walked down to the bike racks, unlocked my bike, threw my purse in the front basket, and wheeled the bike out to the parking lot. I was about to jump on, when suddenly, on the right-hand handlebar (the side I *wasn't* holding - thank god), I saw THIS:
I almost dropped the bike. But I managed to put the kickstand down and then just stood and stared. What was I going to do? How was I ever going to get home? I couldn't bicycle home with that thing on my handlebar??? Where else might such fierce monsters be hiding??????
After scratching my head for a minute or two, I did what any self-respecting, independent, modern woman would do - I called my boyfriend.
Julie: "Hi sweetie."
Randal: "Where are you?"
Julie: "I'm in the school parking lot. Uh, I have a problem."
Randal: [sounding concerned] "What?"
Julie: "There's a caterpillar on my handlebar and he's HUGE."
Julie: "Hello? Sweetie? What should I do?"
Randal: [starts laughing] "Aww, caterpillars are so cute! Take lots of pictures! Is he big? Is he hairy? I bet he'll become a big, beautiful cicada."
Finally I managed to get Randal to stop laughing at me and explain the proper procedure for caterpillar removal from handlebars; namely, take a stick and a leaf, prod the hairy beast onto the leaf, and then deposit him in the garden.
But caterpillars don't always do what you want them to do, and I couldn't get him to move! Where oh where are the students when I need them???
Luckily, just then, our school caretaker came out of the main doors. I ran over in my best damsel-in-distress fashion (luckily, I was wearing a skirt today, so it was pretty easy), and then, despite any Japanese-language skills whatsoever, got him to come over to look at my bike (my communications consisted of "sumimasen ... jitensha ... caterpillar ... onegaishimasu" and a bunch of hand waving). He laughed when he saw the caterpillar just sitting there, as content as could be, then went to the nearby storage shed, pulled out a broom, and gently brushed the caterpillar onto the leaf I had been using and put him in the garden. He then went on to carefully brush off my handlebar, and taught me the word for caterpillar: kemushi.
It was a close call and I'm surprised I made it through in one piece. Phew.
I tried to get a face shot of the caterpillar in all its fierceness, but was obviously too frightened by it to get close enough to get a decent shot (yes, even using my zoom). What can I say? I'm a city girl.