Charlotte’s Web


Books can stick with you.  A long time ago, when I taught fourth grade, I read a chapter from a book to the kids every day after the last recess.  One of their favorites was Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I chose that particular one because it would appeal to the boys in the class as much as the girls, and it showed what life and one-room school houses were like in an earlier time period.  When I finished reading that book to them, my mom sewed a sunbonnet for every girl in the class, and my dad made each boy a wooden slingshot for paperwads–outdoors.

Their other favorite book was Charlotte’s Web.  They got so into that story that when I reached the chapter where Charlotte dies, I had to take them outside for one more recess, because so many of them were crying, including the boys.  (At ten, they can still shed a tear or two without teasing.)

Charlotte’s Web affected me, too.  Maybe five or so years ago, we had a bigger, reddish spider build a web near the roof of our side porch.  It was big enough that if it fell on me, or I walked through its web, I’d scream and panic.  But I can’t make myself kill it.  Ever since I read about Charlotte, I can’t kill a spider when it’s outside, where a spider belongs.  In the house, it’s another matter.  I can’t make myself live with arachnids.  But outside?  I get a broom with a LONG handle, dip it into the web close enough to get the spider, too, and relocate it to the back of the garage where there’s TALL grass that’s almost as high as the garage roof.  A good place for a spider to build a new home.

I do this every fall, and the next year, another red spider returns to our porch.  They like the porch because the porch lights attact bugs, which is sort of like ordering in supper.  And every year, I relocate them.  This year, for the first time, the red spider got smart.  He built his web a little away from the hummingbird feeder that hangs close to our kitchen windows.  The nectar attracts bugs, too, but I don’t have to worry about anyone walking through the spider’s web, so I’m leaving it alone.  The only drawback is that, occasionally, while I’m eating lunch, I watch him trapping his lunch, too.  Slightly unappetizing, but those who know me well, know that it’s hard to make me turn away from good food.

Other books have added to my life since then in different ways.  Sometimes, they simply make me look at the world in a new light.  I hope you’ve read some book/s that stay with you, too.  Feel free to share them.  And happy reading and happy writing!


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