S: Not So Small After All R. K. Roberson
BC: Not so small after all
FC: Not So Small After All | For when you feel just a little too little | R. K. Roberson
1: Chapter 1 ~So, So Small~ Sally sat brooding at the center of her web. "Isn't there anything more than catching bugs and building webs?" she complained aloud.
2: Wind, always just around the corner, heard the complaint. He breezed up Sally's tree and circled her web. "What's this I hear? Someone not happy with their job?" It was Wind's duty to give out the jobs to the creatures in the forest. He prided himself in making everyone happy with what they did. If someone wasn't, he wanted to know why. Sally was a little embarrassed. After all, she really did have a wonderful life: She lived in a nice neighborhood on the branch of a tall hickory tree. She was at the top of the food chain and usually didn't have to worry about being eaten (except for some pesky, near-sighted birds that sometimes mistook her for an insect). With so many plump insects flying into her web there was plenty to eat. And the wind was an excellent boss, although he was sometimes a little too pushy when riled up. So what was there, really, to complain about? She wasn't sure. But still, she knew how she felt -- little. "When I look beyond the branches of my tree, I see so many wonderful things: giant trees, streams rushing into flowing rivers, and eagles soaring over the mountains.
4: "They are all big and important to the world. But I am so small that no one even knows I am here. I am just a little spider with a little web." Wind, known for being a mover and a shaker, got right in Sally's face. "You need a day off!" he exclaimed. And with that he picked up a leaf. "Get on!" he ordered, and off they went. Sally had never ridden a leaf so was a little frightened. But she fastened a few pieces of silky thread to the corners of the leaf making her feel a bit more secure. She gathered her courage and peeked over the edge of the leaf. The world taking shape below her was more than she could have imagined: trees exploded with color and ran like currents over the hills. The white, speeding rapids of the streams and rivers boiled and sprayed their mists into the deep crevices of the valleys, emptying into smooth pools of dark green and blue. Bears clung tightly to the rivers' edges, stretching their huge bodies over the clamoring froth hoping to snag salmon fighting their way upstream. And soaring high above was the one Sally thought most wonderful of all – the eagle. From her perch on the leaf she watched as the giant bird soared majestically, high above her keeping vigil over all the forest.
6: Yes, to Sally, these were the meaningful creatures. They were everything she wanted to be: big and important. She didn't know if this day off was a good idea or not; seeing all these wonderful things up close made her feel even smaller than before. Still, she was curious. "Can I talk to the eagle?" she asked Wind. "Not yet," he answered. "We have a few stops to make first." And he guided the leaf and its passenger into a forest of giant trees. Wind deftly navigated around the branches and trunks of the tall, dark trees while Sally sat struck with wonder. She always thought her hickory tree was rather tall, but compared to these giants, it was like, well, a little spider compared to a big eagle. The high arching branches made a thick, dark canopy that kept the sun from reaching the forest floor. It was dark, cool and rather scary. After a few moments of sight seeing, Wind gently floated the leaf onto the branch of one of the more spectacular trees. "Why are we stopping?" asked Sally "Well, you are on vacation. You should stop and talk to the local folk," whispered Wind.
8: Chapter 2 ~ The Deep Dark Woods~ "What local folk? No one lives here ...do they?" Sally asked, a little frightened. What local folk would be living here, and more importantly, do they eat spiders? "`WHAT LOCAL FOLK?' INDEED!" A deep voice rumbled behind her. "MAYBE THE LOCAL FOLK YOU ARE STANDING ON?" Sally turned. Before her, under her, above and all around was the spirit of Tree. Wrinkled veins of rough bark carved themselves into the side of Tree forming a pair of deep, wise, commanding eyes and a stern gravelly mouth. The eyes peered menacingly at Sally. It had been hundreds of years since Tree had been a "no one" and he didn't take kindly to being called that now. Sally was so frightened that all eight legs gave out from under her and she plopped down on her leaf, unable to run away. Sally's voice was barely a whisper, "Oh please Tree; I am just a little spider. I don't mean to do you harm. Mr. Wind brought..."
10: "What? You are a spider?" looking Sally up and down. "...six, seven, eight! You are a spider," Tree said with the edge out of his voice and a softness in his eyes. "It was your kind that saved my life many years ago." Still shaking, but now able to stand, Sally took a cautious step toward the face. "How could a little, unimportant spider save the life of a tree?" she asked. Tree reached back hundreds of years to a time he had nearly forgotten. "When I was just a sapling no higher than the knees of a fawn, this mountainside was covered with thousands of little ones just like myself. One brilliant summer's day a horde of insects came." Tree stopped for a moment, gathering himself while remembering the terrible story. Sally was sure she saw pain etched on the face of the giant. She stepped closer and patted the trunk softly with a couple of her legs as if to say, "There, there. Everything will be all right."
12: Tree gathered himself up bravely and continued. "They came in thousands, and millions and billions. They ate. They ate the young, tender leaves growing on my branches. They ate the leaves of all the young saplings. We became sick. Many died. Finally, they flew away, but not before laying their eggs. We knew those eggs would hatch and it would start again and many would die. "Before the hatch I recovered a little and straightened myself up to look over the hillside. Where once there was a beautiful lake of flowing green leaves there now seemed only sticks with dots of green here and there. Surely, the hatching of the eggs would be the end of us all. "When the eggs were fat with larvae and ready to hatch, a miracle happened – Wind blew. Riding his currents were little parachutes of silky thread, so small they could barely be seen. And dangling from those threads were baby spiders. Hundreds of them! From the hills all around us they came, landed in our branches and built their webs. "Oh the webs they built! Everywhere! Beautiful! And each with a little spider resting patiently in its center. "We wanted to thank the spiders for making our last days so beautiful, but there was no time; the eggs hatched. They came for our leaves in great swarms, hungry and determined. All we could do was watch in terror.
14: "But what we saw was wonderful, not terrible. The beautiful webs were also strong. An insect would fly into it, get stuck, and before that bug knew what was happening, a spider had it wrapped up in a silky package leaving it for a snack after her work was done. "Oh! Those little spiders were busy! The insects finally left and not one more of us died. The spiders and their wonderful webs saved our lives!" Tree searched deeply into Sally's eyes, "You, little spider, saved my life." Sally looked up into the long, proud branches that had just moments before made her feel so small, "Because of spiders, these are here." Her smile told Tree he had now thanked the spiders that had saved the life of the forest. Wind gently rustled the leaves of Tree's branches. Tree let down a smooth, silky, new leaf as a gift for Sally and it floated to the branch beside her. "Get aboard little one. It's time to go," whispered Wind. And off they went with Sally riding her new leaf, still small but standing a bit taller than before.
16: Chapter 3 ~Wild River~ The leaf and its tiny passenger floated down out of the tall forest settling on a boulder near the center of a rushing river. Still in awe from Tree's story Sally was shocked when a salmon leaped over her rock, drenching her with a spray of frigid water. She was a little upset and started to give the salmon a piece of her mind when she heard a small voice at her feet, "Help me again, please." Sally looked down. At her feet was a single drop of water no bigger than a house fly. Confused, Sally asked, "What do you mean, ‘help you again?’ I have never seen you before. How can I help you again?" "Oh but you have helped me before. Please help me back into the river and I will tell you the story," pleaded the water drop. Sally stepped off her leaf and put one foot on its edge. She tilted the leaf and the water drop rolled down plop! into the river and was absorbed into the rushing current. Sally could no longer tell the drop from the river. But then from all around her came a rushing, thundering sound like the roar of crashing rapids with a voice inside.
18: "SO YOU WANT TO HEAR A STORY?" roared the voice. Sally coward down on her leaf and covered her ears. "Yes please. But would you mind speaking a little more softly? The roar hurts my ears." River slowed to a fast running current. "Is this better?" he asked. "Much better. Thank you. Where is the water drop that I helped?" asked Sally. "I am the water drop. I am what happens when all the little water drops get together. When one of them leaves, I get smaller. I don't like to get smaller." The water rolled a little around Sally giving her the impression that River was frowning.
20: "When it rains," continued River, "I am millions of little water drops all searching for a good path to follow. We follow the path to the next path and join other water drops to form trickles. Trickles join other trickles to form streams and the streams join other streams to form me: River." A current circled Sally's rock making a shape much like a smile. "Sally, I know the drops sometimes bother you, but your webs are some of the best things in the forest to land on. After landing, the drop can easily role down your smooth, silky web to the bottom and then plop right on top of the drop before," River explained. River rushed a little harder now. The water ran right at the rock's edge. A pair of eyes formed in the frothy, white spray and looked into Sally's little eyes, "Sally, if not for you, I would be much smaller than I am. I might not be big enough for the Salmon to swim in. Bears wouldn't hunt on my banks. Otters and beavers might not make their homes in my pools. Sally, the eagle wouldn't hunt from my shores." With that, a small drop flew out of the current and landed at Sally's feet. The drop looked up at Sally and smiled. "Thank you Sally," came a very small voice.
22: Sally stood up straight and tall, "You're welcome River. She tipped her leaf and the droplet rolled back into the blue-green pool. River went back to running fast and furiously and the deafening roar returned. Sally didn't cower this time; she felt rather proud that she had a hand in making the river mighty. Wind swept up the banks of River, lifting the leaf and its passenger into the sky. As they got higher and higher, River seemed to get smaller and smaller but Sally could still hear the roar. She knew as long as she could hear that roar River was happy, which made her happy. The warm, comfortable current of air carried the leaf high above the valley. Sally lay down on her soft leaf to take a little snooze.
24: Chapter 4 ~Little Jewels~ She had no sooner fallen asleep when a tremendous rush of feathers and power rocked her awake. Stunned, frightened and forgetting where she was, she bolted off her leaf and plummeted toward the valley floor. She watched the tree tops get closer and closer, faster and faster. She closed- her eyes hoping it would be over quickly. But at the last moment, SWOOSH! Darting from the very top of the sky came a flash of black thunder and the howl of breakneck speed. Sally opened her eyes just in time to see the outstretched wings of Eagle below her, and then plopped onto the back of the airborne giant.
26: Eagle didn't notice her little passenger; she was too busy aiming herself at a trout gliding near the top of a small pool in River. With Wind blowing in smooth torrents over Eagle and her little passenger, they dove for the unsuspecting fish. Eagle stretched her powerful talons toward the trout. Sally couldn't see how the fish had a chance. But at the very last moment, when Eagle shot her talons into the water, the trout dodged causing Eagle to miss, grabbing only the fish's tail. Eagle lifted her prey but the trout freed itself with a brief struggle and it splashed back into the water, a little frightened but a great deal wiser. "SHUCKS!" Sally heard Eagle exclaim. "That was a nice, fat trout. Next time it'll be harder to catch." "But it was sure fun trying!" Sally answered excitedly. "WHO'S THAT?!" Eagle asked nervously. She was not accustomed to having voices talk back to her, especially while flying. Sally grabbed hold of some feathers and nuzzled down deep into their soft protection.
28: "WHO IS THAT!!?" Eagle asked again. This time she was not excited; she was ANGRY! She glared over her shoulder to catch a glimpse of the owner of the little voice. Sally watched as the gold, penetrating eyes, glanced over her a couple of times and then settled on their little target. She was caught! "And who might you be?" Eagle asked, this time not so excitedly or angry. She wasn't too impressed with the little speck of a creature riding on her back and she certainly wasn't afraid. "I am Sally," she answered in a quiet voice. "And what is a...Sally?" Eagle asked, somewhat confused. She thought she knew most creatures, but she had never met a Sally. "Sally is my name. I am a spider," Sally answered. Eagle had turned her head away to see where she was going but quickly jerked it back and suspiciously looked her little passenger up and down, so closely that her great, powerful beak nearly touched Sally. Sally pulled herself deeply into the feathers and tried not to look into the piercing eyes. "You are a spider?" Eagle asked. Thinking Eagle did not like spiders, Sally closed her eyes and answered nervously, "Yes, I am a spider." Eagle turned her great head away and rode Wind's currents to the highest peak she could find. She circled and lightly set down on the topmost boulder. Although still frightened Sally was in awe at the wonderful view from the peak: the great forest ran in ribbons of green, brown, red, black and gold. The rushing river made its way to a great lake that she never even knew existed. Clouds below her drifted lazily like soft, fluffy blankets. Never before had the sky seemed so blue and the sun so bright.
30: Eagle dipper her wing and Sally stepped onto a stone in front of Eagle. "So you are a spider," Eagle said almost reverently. "All of my life I have sailed the winds of the heavens. I have skipped from mountain top to mountain top with just a whim. I have streaked into lakes catching some of the most magnificent fish one can imagine. I have watched the sun set like a blaze of fire into the crest of a mountain range, and seen it rise again like a small, gray stone through the morning mist. From here, the top of the world, I have beheld the beauty of this world. "But spider, the shimmering jewels, like earthbound stars, that reflect the morning sun from the forest floor are my favorites. When I see them, I know all is right in the forest; creatures are doing their jobs and my forest is alive. "Sally, the jewels are the dew-covered webs of spiders." Eagle smiled at Sally. "Will you thank the spiders for me?" Sally didn't know what to say. She never knew that her webs could even be seen by Eagle, much less be a jewel. And she certainly never thought they could signal all was right in the forest. A simple but proud "Yes" was all she was able to say. With that, Eagle spread her wings, drifted off the boulder and, before Sally could blink, was gracefully soaring high above the peak. Sally's leaf floated down to the boulder and she stepped aboard. Once again, Wind picked up his little passenger and they sailed for home.
32: Chapter 5 ~Not So Small After All~ With night falling Wind and Sally arrived home. Very tired, Sally used the last streaks of daylight to inspect her web for holes. Finding none, she made her way to her bed and settled in for a good night's sleep. Wind covered Sally with a warm blanket of air and swept around the branches, whistling a lullaby. "What have you learned, Sally?" whispered Wind. Sally gazed thoughtfully into the night sky. She remembered the spirit of Tree, the water drop and River, and Eagle and how she and her family had changed the lives of them all. She smiled sleepily and said, "I learned that I'm not so small after all."