Connect to Nature Creative Writing Class

17.06.2020

My Friend the Spider

(This Session is especially dedicated to Nick Noble from Saltburn Surf Hire and Shop)

Hello!! So this session is dedicated to a very close family friend of mine…the awesome Nick Noble! AND …before I start….please don’t run away just yet …there are NO images of spiders on here, only beautiful webs, I want to see if just maybe I can change your perception of these amazing creatures.

Why is this session dedicated to my friend Nick I hear you asking?

Well, I grew up on the North East Coast of England, Nick is a good family friend of ours and would often be over for dinner and being a few years older than me also let me do my obligatory school work-experience at his surf shop…which was the best EVER!! Especially when most of my friends were stuck in offices or supermarkets. Below is a picture of the gorgeous coastline we would often walk along, if you haven’t visited the North East Coast I highly recommend it.

Nick has a love of the natural world and conservation and introduced me to a shared love of landscape and the geography of our area. He also runs Saltburn Surf Hire and Shop and has been a very positive influence on the local community.

Alongside all this when I was growing up and used to visit he had a very intriguing book on his shelf…..it was entitled ….My Friend the Spider!

Now the house that I lived in was 200 years old, it was derelict when we moved in to renovate it and had a lot of very HUGE spiders, which incidentally (at the time) I was terrified of. Where did this fear come from? Well, I think it is an innate response in us to a certain point, but I also believe a lot of fear comes from learnt patterns of behaviour from adults around us and also an unfortunate disconnection from the natural world. Very gently Nick would humour me, but also get me to think in different ways about things. It is thanks to Nick that I remain interested in the natural world today, and also would never harm a spider. I will leave it at that…but here are some lovely tasks to hopefully translate a lovely new way of thinking….

Task 1: (5 mins) The picture below is taken of a cobweb on the cliff path – by another good friend from that area Tim (his instagram link is @c_r_a_g_r_a_t for anyone wishing to find more beautiful pictures of the coastline).

In ten words can you describe a delicate spider web such as this:

From my friend Tim. Instagram Account: @c_r_a_g_r_a_t

Task 2: (5 mins) Here are eight good and interesting things about our eight legged little friends:

  1. Spiders get rid of houseflies.
  2. Spiders are an important part of the eco-system and food for birds.
  3. Birds use spider cobwebs to bind their nests together.
  4. Spiders webs were used for bandages in the old days, they actually contain vitamin K which helps decrease bleeding.
  5. Most spiders are harmless to humans.
  6. Spiders eat insects which damage crops, therefore helping to protect our food supply.
  7. Spider web silk is five times stronger than steel (if we could replicate spider silk in much bigger sizes the cable would be strong enough to prevent a plane taking off!)
  8. Male spiders save food gifts for female spiders to try and tempt them to mate!

With the above information in mind, can you write for five minutes standing up for the humble spider? You might like to do it in the form of a letter to a newspaper, or perhaps a little section in a journal article. Remember to use positive words to support your story!

Image from Pixabay

Task 3: (10 mins) Have you heard of the term ‘Money Spider’ it’s the name we use for tiny spiders that are meant to be a good omen. They are the ones that leave strands of web across grass on the fields.

The term Money Spider actually dates back to Roman times when it was said that if a tiny spider walked across you it might spin you some new clothes and help lift you out of poverty, bringing good wealth and fortune. In fact the Roman coins used to have a symbol of a spider on them as a sign of good fortune. You can read more about that here.

Write about a tiny money spider, how he came to be on someone’s clothes and the good fortune that he brought to them.

Or, write a descriptive piece about a tiny spider living on a lawn.

Image from Pixabay

Task 4: (5 mins) Did you know that spiders actually have paws?! They are very cute, if you are feeling brave you can see them here. Can you spend the last five minutes writing about something else unpopular in nature in more positive terms.

Here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Dandelions are deemed a weed, but I see them as sunshines.
  • A bird’s skull might make a beautiful drawing in an artists studio.
  • Slugs are homeless snails!!
Picture from Richard Morgan

Well – I hope for anyone that is afraid of spiders that the session wasn’t too bad! I’m not saying I’m totally fearless, I don’t want a big guy or girl spider walking across me, but I would be brave enough to trap him / her in a cup and put him outside.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or email me at e.mckenzie1@yorksj.ac.uk

Have a good week, I look forward to your letters and pictures for Friday’s blog post!

Best wishes,
Emma

Published by Emma

Hi my name is Emma! I am a writer and artist. I work for the NHS at Converge (www.yorksj.ac.uk/converge) and I am also an MA graduate in Creative writing and am currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. I have been leading a creative writing class at the beautiful St Nicks in York (www.stnicks.org.uk) for the last five years. When I am not at work I'm on my allotment or at Base Camp (my home) planning new adventures.

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