A Visit With Grandmother Spider

Evening Near the LakeThis story occurred when I was five years of age and living in Texas. Or, maybe it was last week. I’m not sure. Perhaps it was a dream. Maybe it will happen tomorrow. For all I know, it might be unfurling right now. Stories are tricky like that: they resist being pinned down. They insist on lives all their own. I guess they’re a lot like us. Maybe that’s why they fancy us, seek us out, demand our attention. You know what I mean?

Grandmother Spider sat as straight on her stool before her loom. Her fingers seemed older than Time itself, yet nimble. The shuttle of weft seemed to fly between her hands as she pushed it expertly through the hand spun warp. She wove in a pool of sunlight in the corner of the room. Grandmother looked out across the prairie to the mesa, and the mountains beyond.  Smiling to herself, and whispered, “It is good.”

“Grandson,” she said, acknowledging my presence in the room. “Good Morning.”

“Good morning, Grandmother,” I respond. “Are you well?” So we begin an ancient dance. She spun and wove the world into being. I asked questions.

“I am, indeed,” she replied.

“And Grandfather Sun?” I submitted the ritual query.

Grandmother spider motioned me to a stool near the fireplace. The adobe walls, well maintained and three feet thick, radiated heat near the carefully tended flames. We sat in silence for what might seem like a long time. After a while I stood and walked to the table. From the basket I carried, I took an apple pie and placed it on the table. I also removed tobacco, coffee beans, flour, sugar, and some canned goods, and rested them carefully on the nearby shelf. The aroma of coffee filled the room. I noticed that despite my allergies, the smell of coffee was both strong and highly agreeable. Coyote lay curled up at the Timeless One’s feet.

As she wove, Grandmother sang. After a while I could no longer tell her singing from the rustling of the leaves, the call of the mourning doves, or the rushing of melt water in the arroyo. As she sang, time passed.  Grandfather rose high into the sky and began his descent towards Evening.

“You seem sad, Grandson,” Grandmother noted.

“Yes, grandmother, I am sad. There is so much Greed loose in the world. The beautiful lands you gave us are broken and the many tribes, including the four leggeds, the winged ones, and the swimmers, are dying. Even the plant world suffers. So much that I love seems imperiled. ”

Coyote picked up his left ear, plainly listening.

“Yes, Grandson, this is true. But your vision is limited. There is much to be spun and woven before Pachamama’s life is over, before Grandfather Sun grows large and fiery, and we join together one last time and are extinguished. Your passage through this world is as a flicker of shadow to us.”

“I am insignificant Grandmother. That is true. I cannot really aid those I love, and our lives are so brief you and Grandfather hardly know we are here,” I replied.

“Tisk! Such melodrama! No lives are insignificant! That is the speech of of hopelessness!” Grandmother Spider set her weaving tools aside and walking to the stove, pouring hot coffee into two tall mugs. She took plates from the cabinet, and a pie knife and two forks from a drawer. As she moved to cut us pieces of fresh apple pie, we noticed half of the pie was already gone. Coyote sat placidly watching us, and licking his paws. He was humming a happy tune.

Outside, Grandfather Sun seemed to hesitate before dipping below the mountain rim. I thought, just for a moment, he had caught my eye and winked. A rich turquoise blue spread across the Evening horizon. Deep shadows filled the yard. Where had the time gone, I wondered. Although Grandmother had long ago stopped singing aloud, my ears still danced to her music.

“Your Grandfather will be home soon,” she said. “Will you stay for dinner? We’re having Coyote.”

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14 thoughts on “A Visit With Grandmother Spider

  1. When I was about 4 years old I was playing in my room and noticed a strange but beautiful light coming from the closet. I walked over to it and a beautiful spider wonan came down it had my mothers face and it just watched me and smiled and I smiled too. She was a blue light color that I have never seen since. Sometimes I think she was speaking to me but I don’t remember sadly what was said. I watched her leave through a circle in my closet ceiling and before it cloaed all I could see were millions of stars. Perhaps someone can tell me more about this and that brilliant blue color she had.

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