A Spider in the Artichokes

Gramma took the little girl’s hand, with a basket in her other, and led her towards the gate. Sun-speckled shadows danced around them, and time slowed down for a moment. The little girl was giddy, wide-eyed with excitement. Finally, the gate to the untouchable was opening, for her. She’d graduated from picking beans and raspberries from the garden’s perimeter, to helping Gramma with the real bounty behind them, in the most magical garden. 

They walked over to the little girl’s favorite – the artichokes. Kneeling down together, Gramma began to show the little girl how artichokes grow, and how they were going to harvest them. Suddenly, the little girl jumped up, shrieking. She’d seen a garden spider.

“Oh, stop being silly,” Gramma said.

“But I HATE spiders!” the little girl said.

“Spiders are so good for my garden! Why on earth would you say you hate them?” Gramma asked.

“Because they’re SCARY!” the little girl pleaded.

Gramma looked at the little girl, put her hands on her hips and said, "Now, honey. Hate is a strong word. 

You should not hate something just because it scares you.

We need these spiders, they help us. Leave her be.”

Artwork by the incredible Ben Merrell: a memorial to my grandparents and the greatest lessons they taught me. 

Artwork by the incredible Ben Merrell: a memorial to my grandparents and the greatest lessons they taught me. 

The little girl cautiously knelt back down beside Gramma, keeping her eyes on that spider, with those words resonating in her heart.

Gramma showed the girl which artichokes they’d bring in for dinner, and how to cut their stems. The little girl proudly filled and carried the basket, and together, they walked back to the house and prepared the artichokes.

They sat down to eat them together with Papa. Knowing the heart was her favorite part, the little girl started pulling off outer petals and discarding them without eating their meat.

“Why are you wasting those?” Papa asked her.

“I want to get to the best part!” the little girl said.

Papa placed his giant hand on the little girl’s and said, “That’s very wasteful. Those ones are good, too, you should enjoy them." He flashed her his famous smile and added,

"And you know – you'll always have to do a little work to get to the best part.”

Gramma smiled at Papa as he winked warmly at her, and they each took another petal.