Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa
and anyone else who would like to be here
Spiders live in the back yard. You can see a spider waiting in the hole in the web that he has built in the fence. You can see how another spider has covered the leaves of some plants with his web.
On an island named Jamaica people tell lots of stories about a spider named Nancy or Anansi. Anansi the spider is a kind of god, who came from Africa a long time ago, along with the ancestors of the people who live in Jamaica now.
If you meet Anansi, sometimes he looks like a man and sometimes he looks like a spider. He is not mean like Pele, the goddess in Hawaii, but he is very tricky. Most of the stories about Anansi the spider god are about how he tricked other animal gods.
Anansi is a wonderful story teller himself. In fact, in these stories, Anansi the Spider is the god who owns all the stories. Another god, called Sky God once owned the stories, but Anansi did a whole lot of tricks, so now he has all the stories. Sky God told lots of other animal gods that they could have all the stories, but first they would have to bring him some dangerous creatures: hornets, a big snake called Python, and a big wild cat called Leopard. None of the other animal gods could figure out how to do what Sky God asked.
Anansi tricked the hornets into a hollow gourd. First he splashed some water around, and told the hornets that it was raining, so they should hide in his gourd. Of course then he closed it up and took them right to Sky God.
Anansi trapped Python by another trick. He told Python he needed to measure him to prove that Python was the biggest snake in the world. He convinced Python to stretch out against a stick. Then Anansi tied Python to the stick and took him right to Sky God.
Trapping Leopard was harder. First Anansi made a deep pit, so that Leopard would fall in. Leopard asked for help, and so Anansi told him to tie his tail to a tree so that he could get out. Sprong! The tree snapped Leopard up in the air so Anansi could bring Leopard right to Sky God.
Sky God had the creatures he asked for. He had to give all his stories to Anansi. Some people say that Anansi got the stories from Tiger, another powerful animal god, but in this story he got them from Sky God.
I just read a book about Anansi, and so I started looking out for spiders in my yard.