[Tweeters] Port Townsend Olympics: Women's Track and Field Event

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Wed Aug 17 03:56:28 PDT 2016

Oh, sure you got your big ol' summer olympics down there in Rio right now -that's all real nice- but I find the Port Townsend Summer Olympics to be more interesting.

Yes folks, you can see the Olympics all year around here , although recent morning fogs have obscured the view. But after the fog burned off the other afternoon, I attended the Olympic Lowland track and field event at Kah Tai Lagoon, right here in town.

It had turned into a hot sunny afternoon as I was checking out another PT Olympic event: Synchronized Flying: performed by many thousands of tiny midges flying arranged in tight upright columns, which I recently posted about. I was walking back to my truck on the sandy path through the field down there when, just ahead on the track, I noted some major athletic activity on. It was pretty exciting. Really. To me anyhoo.

What I was watching was the Women's Spider-Dragging Event. The wasp-waisted contender, was decked out in a flashy blue-black uniform and was quite perky. I guess that sounds like just more sexist commentary on female athletes ( like, she had a great figure, showy outfit, and was really perky : oh, and by the way, she won the Gold). Maybe I can be forgiven by feminists since what I'm describing is actually a wasp. A spider wasp.

Yes , the gal had a stunning figure or, more accurately , was a stunning figure. You see, the deal with spider wasps is that the females hunt down a spider, paralyze it with their waspy poison, then haul it off to their nest, and lay an egg on it, which hatches out into a larvae that lives on the juices of the stunned spider until it's wasp metamorphosis. I got to see the Dragging event, as the wasp was dragging a spider up the sandy track towards me. It was a smallish type of spider wasp - a bit less than a half-inch long - with dark wings, a dark body with deep blue iridescence, and the twitchy demeanor typical of this kind of wasp.

These petite wasps are strong! The little wasp was hauling it's fat paralyzed spider (easily more than twice its bulk) backwards at an impressive clip over and around many field obstacles. Truly an Olympian feat. Just when she was about to get to a hole (which turned out later to be a Sand Wasp burrow), the wasp flew off the spider and landed on the ground a few inches away, and started turning rapidly this way and that, on major alert!

It was then that the next stage in the Event occurred as another wasp showed up and everything turned into the Wasp Wrestling competition as both wasps jumped on each other in a high speed wrestling match. Then they both jumped to the spider and started tugging it this way and that, taking some breaks for more high-wasp-speed wrestling. Finally the wasps tussled the spider off somewhere . They didn't seem to be working together,but were moving the hapless spider quite the distance anyway. Being sort of a slacker referee ,I was way hungry and had to go home and eat some dinner so I missed which wasp won the prize. Or whatever.

I assumed this was Women's Wasp Wrestling, because from what I've read, the male wasps don't have much to do with the whole spider thing. The spiders are a nursery for mom's little darlings. Adult wasps nectar on flowers.

So another one of natures mysterious outcomes. While I was down at Kah Tai I did get to see some coots, which I like - I haven't been down to the lagoon much this year so far, and coots don't hang out where I've mostly been, along the sea shore. So that was cool, because coots are one of the more interesting birds ever invented, in my opinion.

Jeff Gibson

reporting from the

Port Townsend Olympics

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