I know, you're wondering when this blog will get back to storytelling. Have patience and read on. I just had to post a couple of pictures of the spider on my neighbor's wall. It may be the largest arachnid I've ever seen.
I tell quite a few spider stories, some about the West African and Caribbean trickster Anansi, one about Robert the Bruce, and one my grandmother told me.
Gran always said that spiders were good luck. One day as she was walking out her back door, she noticed a spider's web across the doorway. She ducked down and to the side so she wouldn't break it. Just as she did that, a slate fell off the roof, narrowly missing her head. If she had not saved the spider's web, she would have been hit. Good luck, indeed.
My grandmother was proud that we are descendants of Robert the Bruce (as are thousands upon thousands of others). The great man had just escaped with his life after a fierce battle. He ran up into the hills. Hiding in a cave, he cursed the English, who had captured his dog and who would surely use it to track him down. He slept, waking only when the mornig sun hit his face. He saw a spider climb up the side of the entrance, jump across to the other side...and miss, falling to the ground. It crawled back up the side, jumped again...and missed again. He watched it climb six times. On the seventh, he said, "You'd better give up, spider. I tried and tried, like you, and look at me now, hiding in a cave. If you succeed in catching hold this next time, I'll take it as a sign that I should try again." He watched as the spider climbed up a seventh time, jumped across the gap, and caught. It began to spin its web. He ducked under it, went down from the cave and gathered his men. They then fought in the Battle of Bannockburn against the English, and won.
Whether this is in fact true is immaterial. It's a good story, and Granny understood the value of a good story. As do I.