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Story Spiders: Anansi the Trickster & the Weaving Wife

Did
you know that spiders are natural storytellers? Oh yes, they weave
tales just as easily as they make webs. Think about Charlotte, in
Charlotte’s Web or
the Miss Spider books. But not all spiders are as well behaved as those
two ladies. I’m going to tell you about two spider people and you can
tell me whether or not they could be good storytellers.


Anansi the Spiderman lived Africa. He was a trickster, meaning he liked to
play pranks on people and make them laugh. Still, he spent a lot of time
in trouble for one reason or another. But sometimes he would have a
Good Day, when he would try to be nice to everyone all day long.

So, Anansi woke up on this particular morning and declared,
“Oh my, I feel great! I feel... wonderful. I believe I am going to have a Good Day!”
He jumped out of bed and got ready, putting on his shirt and pants
and shoes and hat. Then he went into the kitchen where his wife, Aso,
was making breakfast.

“Hello, dear wife!” Anansi said, as he landed a great big kiss on her cheek.
“Well, Anansi, it looks like you are having a Good Day!”
“Oh yes! It is a Good Day. And I want to help everybody!... But first, I will have breakfast!”
Anansi had a great big appetite. For breakfast, what do you think he had?
He ate bananas and eggs and toast and cheese and carrots and jelly
and jam and bacon and, and, and... he became very, very full. Burp!

When he was done, Aso said,
“If you want to help people today, my husband, I have a favor to ask of you.”
“Oh yes! Let me do it. What is the favor, my dear wife?”
“I have just made a 7- layer chocolate cake with raspberries and
bananas for Grandmother Spider. Could you deliver it and not eat it up?”

“My wife, I promise to deliver Grandmother Spider’s cake, which sounds very delicious, safely to her doorstep.”
So, Aso gave Anansi the big, beautiful cake. And he began to walk
down the road to Grandmother Spider’s house. It wasn’t that far, but as
he walked, the sun beat down and Anansi began to sweat. He was hot. Then
his stomach began to rumble. He was hungry. What do you think he did?

He was having a Good Day, so he left Grandmother Spider’s cake alone and kept walking and walking until he got to her door.
“Surprise, Grandmother! I have brought you a delicious 7-layer
chocolate cake with raspberries and bananas and I didn’t have a bite all
the way over here!”

“Well, “ she replied, taking the cake pan from Anansi, “It looks safe
indeed. You must be having a Good Day, Anansi. I’m proud of you.”

“I am having a Good Day. Is there anything I can do to help you?”
“I was about to start planting some seeds in my fields. If you help me
with that, I’ll feed you a big lunch of Grandmother Spider’s famous
beans.”

Oh, Anansi was excited. Grandmother Spider’s famous beans were famous
indeed. Everyone knew about them. She always made a great big bunch, so
a whole bunch of people usually came over when they smelled the good,
good aroma of them cooking.

He watched as Grandmother Spider got her great big cauldron, which is
a big ol’ pot. She put it on the fire and poured in the water and the
beans. Then what do you think she added to them to make them smell and
taste so good?

She chopped up some garlic and put in some vegetable broth and salt
and pepper and olive oil. Then she left them there in the kitchen to
boil and simmer. She took Anansi, who was drooling by this time, by the
hand.

“Come on, Anansi, the fields are this way.” and led him out the door.
Anansi & Grandmother Spider worked very hard for a couple of
hours. Anansi had sweat running down his face and arms. The longer he
worked, the closer he got to the kitchen. Inside Grandmother Spider’s
famous beans were cooking away, getting good and soft and tasty. The
closer he got, the better he could smell them. Finally, he couldn’t
stand it any longer. He stood up and ran for the kitchen.

“It’s a Good Day, so... I’ll help Grandmother Spider by tasting her famous beans and making sure they are cooking properly.”
Anansi took Grandmother Spider’s big bean ladle and scooped out a
bunch of beans into his hat. He was too hungry to find a bowl or a
spoon. He slurped down those famous, hot beans in a minute. Do you
remember all that food Anansi ate for breakfast? Well, do you think one
hatful of beans is going to fill his belly?

It didn’t. He went back for a second hatful, as soon as he finished
his last bite. All of a sudden, he heard voices. You remember,
Grandmother Spider’s famous beans were so famous that lots of people
always came to visit, when she fixed them. Suddenly, her neighbors,
other farmers, and some of the travelers from the road were heading
through the door. What was Anansi to do? He knew he was about to get in
trouble for getting to the beans first!

He took his hat and put it on his head... full of hot beans. They
dribbled down his face a little bit and, oh boy, were they warm. He
began to shake his head like this to cool it down. Then he shook it even
more. The new visitors noticed him, shaking his head.

“What are you doing, Anansi?” they asked.
“Um, it’s the head-shaking dance. You should try it.”
So, all the neighbors started shaking their head and the farmers
started shaking their heads and the travelers started shaking their
heads. And pretty soon, everyone was shaking their heads and looking
pretty silly altogether.

Suffice to say, Grandmother Spider walked in on a pretty funny sight-
all these people shaking their heads. And then, Anansi’s hat fell off
and beans went everywhere on the floor.

“Anansi!” exclaimed Grandmother Spider. “I thought today was supposed to be one of your Good Days!”
Anansi was so ashamed of himself that he ran outside and said,
“Tall grass, hide me quick!”
And the blades of tall grass in the field parted, so Anansi the
Spider could crawl between them. And that is where he can still be found
today.


I have another story about a helpful spider. This is called the Weaving Wife.

There was a spider who lived in a farmer’s field in the faraway place
of Japan. She worked hard on her web, while he worked in his crops.
They both had good luck, until one day a snake- Tssst- saw the spider.
She didn’t see him until it was too late and the snake’s long green body
was launching toward her. She screamed a small spider scream. Before
the snake swallowed her up, the farmer’s hoe hit the snake on the head.
The farmer chased the snake out of the fields and into the woods. When
he returned to the fields, he looked at the spider’s web. She was safe
and seemed to give him a little bow of “Thank You”. He bowed back,
saying “You’re welcome”.

The next day, a beautiful woman with long black hair and a red cotton kimono knocked on the farmer’s door.
“I have come to weave for you, if you will have me.” she said and stepped into his house.
He led the stranger to the weaving room, which had been abandoned for a
time, gathering dust and cobwebs. She smiled at the small spiders in
the corners and then at the farmer.

“Please, go work in the fields and I will work on these bags of cotton thread.
Please, good farmer,

Let me stay.

I’ll weave for you

Every day.”

The farmer left the woman there and when he returned from the fields that evening, he knocked on the door of the weaving room.
“Good farmer, you may enter.” said the woman.
There he found she had woven much of the thread into beautiful bolts of cloths, ready for kimonos of all different colors and patterns.
“How did you weave all of this in one day?” he asked.
She shook her head. “Never ask me questions, good farmer, and never
watch me weave. If you can keep these promises, I will stay with you as
long as we both live.”

So, their partnership began. He would tell her good morning and go
work in the fields, while she settled into her weaving work. In the
evening, he would return and knock on her door.

“Good farmer, you may enter.” she would say and he would find stacks
and stacks of beautiful kimono cloth lining the walls of the room. On
the weekends, he would take the cloth to the market and sell it,
bringing home great amounts of money, as well as a trinket- a jewel, a
hat, a scarf- for the woman he was growing to love.

One day, he accidentally left his lunch bag at the house and had to
go back for it. He got his food and headed back out to his work. As he
passed the window of the weaving room, he could not resist peeking in.
There he saw the strangest of sights. Instead of a woman, there was a
spider weaving the kimono cloth. It was the same spider who had always
lived in his fields and whom he had saved from the snake. He heard her
singing,


Weaving is what spiders do,
And so I’ll weave the whole day through.

He knew her secret, but he still loved her. Her song stuck in his head all day and he sang it as he worked in the fields.

Weaving is what spiders do,
And so I’ll weave the whole day through.

That evening he knocked on the door of the weaving room as normal.
“Good farmer, you may enter.” said his Weaving Wife.
There he found the room completely filled with cloth.
“You see, I have used all of the thread and cannot weave any more
unless I have something else to work with. Would you like me to leave or
can you find me more thread?”

“I am ever grateful for the beautiful work you have done, dear Weaver. I
want you to stay. Tomorrow, I will not farm. Rather I will travel to
town for more thread.”

The next day, the farmer loaded up the rest of the cotton kimono
cloth and headed to market. After he sold the beautiful colors and
designs, he bought as much thread as he could hold in his market bag. At
dusk, he headed back down to his house and farm. It was a long walk
home and he was tired from talking to so many people. When he was almost
home, he sat down under a tree to rest. He fell asleep and didn’t hear
the green snake- Tssst!- slithering over to his market bag.

The bag was filled with soft cotton thread, remember? The snake
thought it was a good soft bed for the night. He curled himself in the
bottom of the sack and went to sleep himself. Soon after that, the
farmer awoke and realized that it was almost bedtime. The sun had
already gone down and he was losing the light to guide his way home.

He reached home safely and heard his wife singing inside the weaving room.

Weaving is what spiders do,
And so I’ll weave the whole day through.

He knocked on the weaving room’s door.
“Good farmer, you may enter.” said his Weaving Wife.
She took the sack and kissed him on the cheek in thanks. He straight
to bed after that, since he was still tired. The Weaving Wife closed the
door of her room and changed her shape. As a spider, she began to eat
the thread out of the bag. In her belly, she would prepare the thread
for weaving the next day. When her belly was almost full, she reached
for the last thread. Suddenly, she saw the snake- Tsst!

She jumped back, but the snake was fast and began to chase her around
the room. Around and around they went. The snake was so very close,
because the spider could not move very fast with her big belly.

The spider jumped up on the windowsill and leaped out into the tall
grass. The moon saw the scary chase. She knew the spider had sacrificed
her web and weaving for the love of the farmer, so she reached down with
a moonbeam offered her help. The spider ran as fast as she could with
such a full stomach up to where the moon lived in the sky.

She was so grateful that her life had been saved again, that she
immediately began weaving a gauzy shawl of clouds for the moon to wear
on cold nights. If you look up in the sky tonight, you might see the
moon wearing her lovely woven clouds and the little spider sitting on
her shoulder, singing.


Weaving is what spiders do,
And so I’ll weave the whole night through.

*Both stories adapted from "Easty-to-tell stories for young children" by Annette Harrison

Views: 323

Tags: pre-k, spiders, story, tricksters

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