This year a spider has made its home in the drivers side rear-view mirror outside my car. It’s a tiny little guy whose legs are just barley visible dangling down from the top edge of the mirror, in a hermit crab fashion. I only noticed it’s web the first time in June, when the sun hit the silk’s reflection. What is even more interesting is that this is the second year in a row a spider has “moved in” to the same location.
This seemingly odd spot for a spider to spin its web brings up many questions: Why did it choose this location? Does the mirror give it an edge to catching flies? How the heck does it hold on when I’m on the freeway?
As I marvel at my spider friends home, I am reminded that humans have built many homes in stranger places over the centuries.
Temples tend to be built in the most interesting locations on the planet. Perhaps, for the believer, traveling to the temple is seen as a spiritual journey in and of itself. Take for example the Hanging Temple in China. This temple is the host to three different religions: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Built out of wood and dug into the side of the Dacist Mountain, Hengshan, this precariously positioned micro village sits 75 meters above the ground with more than 40 chambers connected by corridors, bridges and boardwalks. It is believe to of been built more than 1500 years ago at the end of the Northern Wei Dynasty by a monk named Liao Ron. Legend has it that Liao built the temple to suppress the monsters that caused the nearby river to flood often.
Xuankong Si or “Hanging Temple” in China
Then there is the Roussanou Monaste in Greece. Tripadvisor claims “…this monastery is the most inaccessible of its kind.” Built in 1545 these monks wanted to get away from it all, including people. What was it like if there was ever a knock at the door? Did everyone crap their pants and shout “Holy cow! They found us!” Perhaps the opposite occurred. Balloons and glitter fell from the ceiling onto the head of the visitor in congratulations of surviving the trip.
A gentleman named Maximos and Loasaph of Loannina (no less) founded the monastery. The site was dedicated to St. Barbara but the name Roussanou may be the name of the hermit who live on the rock during that same time. Since 1988 it has been occupied by a small community of nuns. The building covers the entire surface of the rock and consists of three levels: the church, cells and guest quarters.
(I think the cells were for the monks, maybe.)
Roussanou Monaste in Greece
Thinking back to my spider friend, perhaps he is just giving the location a chance. However, the web is almost always empty, no flies. Sometimes when I am on the freeway I keep an eye on the little guy thinking he’ll blow off. Sure it’s inconvenient and a bit anti-social but it is protected. Humans build homes in remote areas to suppress monsters or find peace and quiet. My spider friend is protected from birds and weather. What a smart spider.
The 2012 “Phrasings in Word + Dance” is on! Bellingham Repertory Dance presented its sixth annual collaboration with Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater this weekend. What a great three days of art and insight. Carla and the BRD company have outdone themselves, again. This year I was selected, along with 5 other poets, to write a poem inspired by the dance film “Welcoming Clyde”, produced by Pam Kuntz, featuring BRD dancer Kate Stevenson. It follows Kate dancing through her first pregnancy with grace and beauty, narrated by her husband. The grand finale: Kate dances with her baby boy Clyde in her arms! It’s a moving piece with beautiful photography. The poems were matted & displayed on the fireplace mantle at the Firehouse. Here is my submission:
This month the assignment for Artistic License was to write about HOME. It is a challenging subject for me since I am currently living with my brother, with no clear home of my own. These types of assignments lead me down a thought path of questions such as: what is home, where is home, and is home defined by me, those that live in it or both? Instead of writing about the +14 different places I’ve lived over the years, I decided to go inward, or backwards, to a moment in my childhood that is ONE definition of home to me. Here it is:
Like a hermit crab, I carry my house around. Attached to my memory enduringly fixed to the mind’s eye reminiscent of a freckle on the iris.
Such a summer day it was, the kind you record every sound and smell. Was I 12 or 13? Was it July or August? Was it closer to one o’clock or two?
My childhood home on 9th Street. The home was empty; the family out in town, at a game, in the garden. Me? Napping atop my bed spread. Drifting into the lazy summer day.
The window wide open, yellow curtains being caressed by a breeze. A lawn mower or two run in the background. Neighborhood kids on bikes shouting commands, dogs bark for no reason. …I’m in love.
For a moment in time, one that guards my heart in crisis, the peace was seen, heard and felt- and accepted. I owned that day. I return to that day many times as only memories will allow.