Monday, July 21, 2014

Writers, Spiders and Glowing Moss, Part 2

The summer of 2000 found me at Camp Cooper. This was my sixth year at summer camp and it was my last. Although I hated Camp Cooper, I am thankful for one thing, I spent most of my time alone and sober. I lived in a cabin in the dense coastal woods. My cabin had plumbing and hot water, but it had no electricity.

I had bought a manual typewriter in the spring at a church tag sale in McMinnville, Oregon. Knowing that my laptop needed electricity and my love affair with the composition notebook was strained due to the recent loss of one the autumn before, I thought a manual type writer would be beneficial.

Camp lasted for six weeks. I was not really writing until the very—very end of it.

There was a back door to the cabin which led to the trees and hillside outside my bedroom. At night it was very dark, of course it was dark: no electricity, dense trees, etc. But I would sit out there anyway and smoke hand rolled cigarettes. This was a practice I did mostly at night. During the day, I would either not have idle time for cigarettes or if I did, I smoked on the front porch of my cabin.

For whatever reason that day, a change of pace, or not wanting to see anyone, I hid in the back and rolled a smoke. As I sat there, wedged between my cabin's wall and the ever slowly encroaching forest, I looked for any traces of sunlight that may have penetrated the canopy or the undergrowth of the plant life. What I saw was a gigantic spider and its web. I want to say it was inches from my face, but that would be an exaggeration. It could have been possible for me to fall into the web, especially at night, but I didn't. The spider sat quietly in the center of the web, and what a beautiful web it was.

Beautiful, industrious creations deserve reverence and respect.

It started to become my after lunch ritual to walk up the hill toward my cabin and roll a cigarette and spend a little time with my spider. And oddly enough, I seem to remember standing on the front porch of the cabin at night, a total reversal of the before-I-noticed-the-spider habit. For as fascinated as I was with the spider in the web and for as beautiful as I thought it was, I was somewhat afraid of it at night. I never thought the spider would do me any harm. Perhaps it was the other way around, I didn't want to cause the animal any harm by breaking its web. Often at night I would be in my bed alarmingly close to the back door which was alarmingly close to the spider and I would think about spiders kiting, knitting webs and banding together for larger prey such as me. These were thoughts to wake me up.

I wish there was an allegory here.

I enjoyed the company of a spider in my final days of Camp Cooper. I watched a spider at work during my quiet hours during my final days as a Boy Scout. I lived with a spider and both feared and respected its space.

I started to hammer away at that old typewriter. It kept me company at night when the banana slugs were eating the forest which became still like death when the ocean's fog rolled in. I wrote all sorts of garbage. Again, what I wrote, the product is not important. The process is.

If we can learn anything from a spider it may be this: be beautiful and feared, be productive, industrious and eventually lunch will come to you.

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