Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Of Time, Brodsky and the Spider

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Of Time, Brodsky and the Spider

Article excerpt

THE OTHER day on my Twitter feed, someone tweeted a photo of a giant dragonfly caught in the web of a tiny spider. On first blush it didn't make sense, how such a large insect could be ensnared in a web that appeared to be about as fortified as a damp napkin.

Then I recalled my mother's constant reminder to me while growing up that I should never lay a hand on a spider, this based of course on the legend of the great Scots king and general, Robert the Bruce.

The story goes that in the early days of Bruce's reign, and following a defeat at the hands of the English, he found inspiration -- while taking refuge in a cave -- from the determination shown by a single small spider attempting to spin its web. Supposedly, witnessing this act inspired Bruce and his army to a thrilling victory over the English in the Battle of Bannockburn.

Legends and myths have their place, and will always have a place in our culture. Over the last week or so, the myth has been made real again, as I have been reminded once more of the resilience of spiders.

Every other morning, it seems, as I step out the door to walk to my car, I am slapped, every so gently, by a spider web that descends from the left corner of our front porch.

Generally, I wipe away the refuse without thought, and try, best I can, to make sure there is no spider goop left in my hair by the time I get to work. What amazes me is how fast the web is reconstructed, sturdy as ever, every couple of days.

I have never actually seen the spider, mind you, but I have seen its work. It is deliberate, constant work, like a bricklayer making sure of every brick, or a busy mother packing her child's lunch while making sure to count out calories and protein.

In today's hurry-up world, I find solace in the sure-handed skills of the spider. Particularly in these last dog days of August, I am mindful of both labor and time, and how precious they are as we make that inevitable turn toward the fall. …

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