In amongst the minutiae,
the hither and thither
rushing by –
there’s no time to talk,
no time to rest,
Take a breath.
Tilt your face to the sun.
Feel the warmth on your skin.
The world will wait.
See the beauty of the
the blossom cascading in flurries
of pastel shades.
View the ever changing canvas
painted with clouds in multihued swirls.
Close your eyes .
The scent of wild roses carries
on an insistent spring breeze;
a heady intoxicant
twining around your senses.
to nature’s music,
a multitude of harmonies,
as wind strummed trees
join in chorus
with the trills of songbirds.
All it takes is a moment.
And take a breath.
The world will wait.
This children’s story (aimed at 5 / 6 year olds) Sidney the Scaredy Spider, is one that I wrote to be told rather than read, but I thought I’d paint a few pictures to go with it and share it here.
Enjoy – and I’d love to know what you think.
This is Sidney the Spider.
Sidney Spider is very shy and very nervous. He doesn’t like meeting new people or doing new things. He gets scared. That is why he’s known as Scaredy Spider.
Scaredy Spider lives in a web in the branches of a little bush. He likes living there. No one ever bothers him.
He has to admit, though – sometimes he does get a little bit lonely.
But one stormy day the wind blows so strongly that Scaredy Spider’s web is blown right off the little bush and is carried away – with Sidney still on it!
Scaredy Spider clings tightly to his web, trying desperately not to fall off, until finally the wind sets him down in a large garden.
Sidney is very scared – what can he do? His web is in pieces and his bush is far away.
He has to build himself a new web – but where?
First he sees a tall tree. What a perfect place to live, he thinks, and he scurries up the trunk and begins to spin his web.
“Twit-twoo.” An owl looks down at Sidney. “Hello,” hoots the owl. “My name is Oswald. Are you my new neighbour? I live here in my nest. We can be friends!”
“Eek,” cries Scaredy Spider, and he runs away down the trunk of the tree, too scared to talk to the owl.
Next Sidney sees a rickety old fence. This is definitely a perfect place to live, he thinks, and he begins to spin his web.
Suddenly a rabbit hops out of a hole, it’s nose twitching. “Hello,” says the rabbit. “I’m Ridley. Are you my new neighbour? I live here in my burrow. We can be friends!
“Eek,” cries Scaredy Spider, and he runs away through the grass, too scared to talk to the rabbit.
After that Sidney sees a drainpipe, dripping water into a big puddle. Here, he thinks, will be a perfect place to live, and he begins to spin his web.
“Ribbit, ribbit.” A toad splashes into the puddle. “Hello,” croaks the toad. “My name is Terrence. Are you my new neighbour? I live here in this puddle. We can be friends!”
“Eek,” cries Scaredy Spider, and he runs away up the drainpipe, too scared to talk to the toad.
Finally Sidney sees an open window and he enters a room. No one else is around. No one to scare him. And there, sitting on a table, he sees a blue, pointy thing. A perfect place for me to live, he thinks, and he begins to spin his web.
After that Sidney is so tired that he falls fast asleep. When he wakes up he finds himself looking up at the long beard and kind green eyes of an old wizard.
“Hello,” says the wizard, lifting his hat with spider and web. “I’m Old Wizard Woo. Are you living here now? I live here, in this house – and this is my hat. We can be friends!”
Scaredy Spider wants to run away, but there is nowhere he can go. He has to be a brave spider. “Hello,” he squeaks, his voice as wobbly as his legs. “I’m Sidney.”
Old Wizard Woo smiles and Scaredy Spider finds himself smiling back. He will be lonely no more.
Sidney still lives on Old Wizard Woo’s hat. They are best friends.
Sidney Spider is still very shy and very nervous but when he’s with his friend Wizard Woo he knows that he doesn’t need to be Scaredy Spider any more.
Stories are the most important thing in my life. It doesn’t really matter to me what form these stories take – written or spoken word, film, television or simply my own imagination – I can lose myself in a story for many very enjoyable hours.
I am not the only person who feels this way – in the words of Phillip Pullman: “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” Nor is this a new phenomenon. Stories have been important to societies around the world since words were first developed, far back in our history as a species. This can be clearly seen in the myths, folktales, songs and rhymes which have been carried down from generation to generation.
But why are stories so important to us?
The main answer to this, in my opinion at least, is that stories connect us.
Firstly, they connect us to other people. Stories grant us glimpses into lives which would be otherwise hidden. Each of us exists in our own space; our thoughts are our own, the true detail of our passage through life – our attitudes, feelings, and motives – are known only to ourselves. We can share information with those we encounter by telling them our stories. As a child I used to make up stories about the people who lived in the houses on my street, fascinated by the mysteries of their existence. Through stories we are given a chance to view life through the eyes of characters from all walks of life: rich and powerful, weak and dispossessed, from cultures all around the world and from any period in time into which we care to venture. This allows empathy to be developed and can, in turn, lead to greater understanding and tolerance.
Stories also connect us to our society. Historical stories give us a sense of our roots, both family stories and those of our nation’s past – my own personal favourites (I’m a Nottinghamshire girl through and through!) are the tales of Robin Hood. The content of stories can also connect us to our society by informing us of the beliefs and moral leanings expected of us. Stories can illustrate the difference between right and wrong, with characters’ actions shown in positive or negative light. Religious stories from around the world are the best examples of this but non-religious texts can also be said to reflect and reinforce societal norms.
Finally stories can be said to connect us to our inner selves. When experiencing a story we lose ourselves in our imaginations, we create our own images to fill in the gaps between the words. Long after a story has been told, these images remain in our heads, to be revisited at will. As Deena Metzger says: “When Stories nestle in the body, soul comes forth.”
Stories have always, and will always be important and I’m quite happy for them to remain that way.
Colette O'Neill... Environmentalist, Author, Publisher, Photographer. Creator of Goddess Permaculture.
Creating a Meaningful Life
Exploring our connection to the wider world
Wrangling literary arts for writers: words for people!
watching the world of brain research