by Barbara Craigie from Bellingham, WA
Sep 29, 12
Over dinner a few weeks ago our older son, Ian, told us a story.
Ian is in his late 40’s, a big burly, motorcycle rider. In fact, most of Ian’s stories are about his motorcycles. He owns four BMW’s. All significant models, he tells us, all with complicated model names. I just refer to them as the red one, the white one, the black one and the blue one.
Ian was heading to Vancouver on business. He would usually ride one of his motorcycles, but because of the nature of this trip he had decided to take his car. So – he had to open the seldom-used door on the car side of his garage.
When he did he saw, right in front of him, a magnificent, large cobweb.
Ian’s garage faces east. Which means the early morning sunshine was glinting off the web. And Ian was staring at a dazzling display of spider craftsmanship. The web covered not only much of the upper part of the opening, it continued beyond, towards his front door.
Ian could see the spider. He could also see that she had at least three meals lined up, her diet for the day he presumed. He figured if he was very careful, and moved some motorcycle pieces, he could maneuver his car out of the garage without destroying the web. When he reached the end of the steep driveway he stopped. Parked. And went back to check. The web was intact. He was pleased with himself.
He returned home that evening. There was a UPS package on his doorstep. And the cobweb was gone. Ian chuckled, somewhat self consciously, as he told us this story, but I was transported back about 40 years. Because I knew why he had taken such pains to preserve the web.
I remembered a much younger, smaller Ian, maybe 7 or 8 years old. It was a spring afternoon. Ian was lying on his bed, finishing what was probably the very first “real” book that he read all by himself. He reached the end of the second to last chapter, and lay there in complete silence for a minute and then he said, in a choked little voice, “My throat feels funny”. He didn’t recognize that he was on the verge of tears.
The book was Charlotte’s Web.
Charlotte, the spider, was going to die.
Ian said the UPS driver probably didn’t notice the spider’s web.
But I think the driver just hadn’t ever read “Charlotte’s Web”.
I am reading it again.