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Today, there is at long last glorious rain — which I love any day of the year — in Los Angeles. And whether or not you like rain — and I don’t think most Angelenos like it, judging by their elaborate moisture-averting wardrobes — we need it to keep the dry brush from bursting into flames.

The above paragraph is a preamble to saying I woke up to the beautiful sight of a quarter-sized (including the legs) spider in my bathtub, looking for shelter from the storm. I would have left him/her there, except my cat Clancy likes to chase and eat spiders — and I didn’t think it wise for the cat or the spider. So i captured said spider in a jar that once held Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves (great with plain greek yogurt) and ushered him/her outside, where I hoped the arachnid found a place to wait out the rain.

The above two paragraphs are a preamble to marking the 114th birthday of E.B. White, author of one of my all-time favorite books, Charlotte’s Web. Charlotte, as most people know, was the spider that was a “a good writer” and “true friend” to Wilbur — a pig she saves from the slaughterhouse. (And for those who believe in animal totems — or who find them interesting — spiders are the totem of writers.)

So let’s enjoy a passage from the delightful, charming, profound Charlotte’s Web, a masterpiece for young and old by E.B. White.

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elwyn Brooks “E. B.” White (July 11, 1899 – October 1, 1985), was an American writer. He was a contributor to The New Yorker and a co-author of the English language style guide, The Elements of Style. He also wrote books for children, including Charlotte’s WebStuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. In a 2012 survey, readers of School Library Journal voted Charlotte’s Web the top children’s novel of all time. (Read more at Wikipedia.org)