Charlotte lives

E.B. White is on my mind today. You think you don’t know him but you do.
If you’ve ever taken a college English class you probably were encouraged to purchase a little book called “The Elements of Style.” Containing all the basics a writer needs to know, the book is often referred to as “The Strunk & White Book.” It was written originally by Wil Strunk and updated years later by E.B. White, who was one of Wil Strunk’s students. E.B. White is often commended for listing his former professor’s name first as a co-author of the book.
With the fall semester starting, I will be mentioning “The Elements of Style” in my writing class and urging my students to invest in one if they don’t already have it.
But E.B. White is on my mind for another reason, too. Each morning for the past week I’ve thought about his most famous character, Charlotte, of the book “Charlotte’s Web.” That’s another way most of us know E.B. White. He wrote this delightful children’s book.
Charlotte, the star (although many will claim that honor belongs to Wilbur, the pig), is a spider. It’s astonishing how fast Charlotte can spin a web, not to mention that she can work a word or two into it. “Some Pig,” starts a wave of interest that ultimately saves Wilbur’s life.
I’ve been experiencing the talents of Charlotte’s kind every morning as I head to my car and walk right through a spider’s web. A web that was not there the previous night when I parked. I don’t like the feeling – who would? – but I am nonetheless mighty impressed with the workmanship and the speed of this Charlotte wannabe. And, especially, the tenacity. Although its work, typically extending from the hydrangea bush to the hood of my car, is unintentionally destroyed (by me) each morning, it never fails to have a new one awaiting me the very next day.
Unlike Charlotte, it weaves no words. But every morning, I cannot help but think, “Some Spider.”

Ed Ackerman