One Tuesday, when nothing spectacular happened, Spider heard his belly grumble. Having just eaten, he had forgotten that he was still hungry, so his stomach churned noise like a whitewater rapid to remind him. For those of you that don’t know much about Spider, his empty gut always led him into wiseacring times, weaving webs of trouble that made tangled messes.
So Spider left his webbed-up raspberry bush home and set out to find food. After some time, he came up on a river and saw Bear’s den.
“Hello Auntie Bear,” Spider bellowed into the cave. “You up for a visit?”
There was no answer, so Spider crept into the den. Over in a corner, neatly stowed, sat Bear’s winter preserves. Being good with her resources, Bear had taken the Salmon she needed, eaten what filled her up, and kept some for her long nap.
“Well, well. Nothing like a bit of dried fish to quiet my tummy,” Spider mused. “I’ll just eat the first row so Bear won’t notice that any are missing.”
He ate the first row, and his stomach kept screaming. So he at all the Salmon and waddled out of the cave to go home. When Bear returned, she roared with anger that someone was stupid enough to take her winter rations. Her cries were so loud, the nearby mountains split open and created a valley; her tears so many, they made lakes and rivers.
Meanwhile, Spider’s belly hurt with hunger again. “Hello, Mr. Tummy,” he joked, “I hear you arguing and don’t know what to say. What? Eat more you’re yelling at me? Why, sure I’ll help us out!”
Instead of going home, he took a left at the Timeless Oak Tree and headed to Grandmother’s house. Grandmother, older than the rocks that lined the oldest river, always had food to eat, tales to spin, and lessons to teach. Wise in many ways not known by regular folks, Grandmother actually knew that Spider’s stomach headed her way.
“Oh, oh,” Spider said. “I can smell Grandmother’s home cooking already. Mmm, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and corn from her garden! (slurp) Apples from her orchard and berries from her bushes!” Spider jumped in excitement, squirted some web for good measure, and doubled his time to eat sooner than later.
Nestled in the burned-out hollow of Dan the Old Redwood, Grandmother’s house stood. Grandmother looked out one of the small half-circle windows and saw Spider walk into a nearby meadow. His stomach grumbles echoed across the ridge, and he hastily crawled up to her door.
“Grandmother, so gentle and kind-hearted,” purred Spider in his most polite voice. “So giving with your big heart and abundant garden.”
“Hello, Spider,” she said flatly. “Nice day for a little mischief, isn’t it?”
“Oh, no honorable madam,” he lied. “I was just in the nearby meadow, and saw a dead tree that would make good kindling for your hearth.”
“Firewood, huh? Are you offering to haul a few loads to my wood pile?” Grandmother said, playing along.
“Why, of course. I’m a bit hungry right now, but wouldn’t mind the chore if you fed me first.”
“That’s a fair trade. Here’s a carrot for now. Eat this and bring me back some more veggies from my garden that I can cook up for you.”
“Oh, boy!” Spider exclaimed (crunch) “Carrot and veggies, all for me.”
As you may already know, that dead tree never turned into firewood. Once Spider ate that juicy, orange carrot, he forgot about his offer to trade. Instead, he ate all the veggies from Grandmother’s garden, all the apples from her orchard, and all the berries from her bushes. With his stomach about to burst, and his greedy appetite temporarily gone, Spider realized that he’d eaten ALL of Grandmother’s food.
“Um, I need to figure a way out of this mess,” he told his aching belly. Shooting his web, he climbed up into a secluded tree and tried to think. Then his aching belly began to hurt a little more. As the pain grew stronger, Spider had a harder time thinking up a good way to not get into trouble. The pain got so bad, he slid down the tree and staggered home.
His vision blurred and his stomach heaved. Spider could only make it to the dead tree in the meadow. There, he spun a bed and rolled into a ball of pain. So, on any other day like that particular boring Tuesday, when you’re hauling wood to your own pile, check for Spider before you pick up a piece. His stomach ache will make him bite!
What about Grandmother’s garden? Well, that carrot came from a nearby garden that had been infested with nasty No See Um flies. They’d laid eggs in all the veggies, so Grandmother hoped to make a cure to save her neighbor’s garden. She thought Spider wouldn’t mind being in a little experiment of hers. In his greedy state, Spider blindly ate the sick carrot and didn’t notice the flies. As for the rest of her garden, Spider didn’t notice that Grandmother had other sections. So, being wise as the ancient sun and resourceful as the rain and clouds, Grandmother had plenty of food to feed all her friends and family. As long as you helped out around her farm, Grandmother gladly filled your pail with yummy produce.
Eugene, OR (7/12/05)