Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Celebrating #NationalPigDay with the characters from Charlotte's Web



Happy March! And with the beginning of a new month, there is a holiday! Today, March 1st, is National Pig Day! And in its honor, I thought you would appreciate this passage (short) from "Charlotte's Web," by E.B. White:

The selection I've chosen is the book's opening paragraphs:

"Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

"Out to the hog-house," replied Mrs. Arable. "Some pigs were born last night."

"I don't see why he needs an ax," continued Fern, who was only eight.

"Well," said her mother, "one of the pigs is a runt. It's very small and weak, and it will never amount to anything. So your father has decided to do away with it."

"Do AWAY with it?" shrieked Fern. "You mean KILL it? Just because it's smaller than the others?"

Mrs. Arable put a pitcher of cream on the table. "Don't yell, Fern!" she said. "Your father is right. The pig would probably die anyway."

"Fern pushed a chair out of the way and ran outdoors. The grass was wet and smelled of springtime. Fern’s sneakers were sopping by the time she caught up with her father.

“Please don’t kill it!” she sobbed. “It’s unfair.”

“Fern,” he said gently, “you will have to learn to control yourself.”

“Control myself?” yelled Fern. “This is a matter of life and death, and you talk about CONTROLLING myself.”

Tears ran down her cheeks and she took hold of the ax and tried to pull it out of her father’s hand.

“Fern,” said Mr. Arable, “I know more about raising a litter of pigs than you do. A weakling makes trouble. Now run, along!”

“But it’s unfair, cried Fern. “The  pig couldn’t help being born small, could it? If I had been very small at birth, would you have killed me?”

Mr. Arable smiled. “Certainly not,” he said, looking down at his daughter with love. “But this is different. A little girl is one thing, a little runty pig is another.”

“I see no difference,” replied Fern, still hanging on to the ax. “This is the most terrible case of injustice I ever heard of.”

A queer look came over John Arable’s face. He seemed almost ready to cry himself.

“All right,” he said. “You go back to the house and I will bring the runt when I come in. I’ll let you start it on a bottle, like a baby. Then you’ll see what trouble a pig can be.”

I’ll stop here, dear reader, as it seems a good place to do so on National Pig Day. And if you’ve read the story, you know Fern ultimately named her pig Wilbur, and he grew up to be SOME PIG, with the help of Charlotte, the spider. 

Wilbur was devastated when Charlotte died. It took him a while to appreciate the consolation of having her children around.

I’m identifying with Wilbur on this National Pig Day, for I am heartbroken about the loss of Cam, just as he was about the loss of Charlotte.

You see, I have spoken to a naturalist who was rather matter-of-fact re Cam’s demise, telling me cardinals only live two-three years, but they leave behind children. She suggested I get a crab apple tree to attract another cardinal.

There will never be another bird as special as Cam, and I’m truly grateful that I got to know her so well as we worked on our book series, “Words In Our Beak Volume One.” 

And with that thought, dear reader, I’ll leave you for now, but not without my wishes that you have the love of an animal in your life, be it a pig, or a bird, or any member of the animal kingdom.

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