“I don’t want to die…I want to stay alive, right here in the comfortable manure pile with all my friends. I want to breathe the beautiful air and lie in the beautiful sun.” (Charlotte’s Web)

When Wilbur receives “bad news” from the eldest sheep, he laments to Charlotte. When she tells him that she does have a plan to save him, he asks her for specifics. The gracious, sage, and eloquent spider tells him:

“Well…you must try to build yourself up. I want you to get plenty of sleep, and stop worrying. Never hurry and never worry! Chew your food thoroughly and eat every bit of it, except you must leave just enough for Templeton. Gain weight and stay well—that’s the way you can help. Keep fit, and don’t lose your nerve.”

And there it is. So elegant and simple. How do we lead a life of contentment? Follow Charlotte’s advice: slow down, savor the moment, help others, don’t worry about what you can’t control, be hearty, keep your body and mind and spirit well, have faith and don’t be scared, keep going, look life in the eye.

I have often spoken of the old Matics-Yoder farm values with which I was lucky to be born and bred. Perhaps that innate farm stock is one reason why this novel resonates with me. Katie and I are fairly far into it now, our next novel after the Harry Potter series. We love it. The last time I experienced this novel, I was a young girl in Yorba Linda, cuddled in my Strawberry Shortcake sheets and duvet with my mom. I cherished that reading experience with her, surely one of the many we shared that nurtured my love of reading and of all words.

So it is Charlotte’s Web for us as we round out October. It is such a beautiful book. Sigh. I appreciate how clever E.B. White is even more now that I am an adult.

What else do we like to do in the evenings?

Lantern dancing! I found two (cheap!) plastic Halloween lanterns at the drug store. Oh my, have these been the hit of the month! True, they have a tendency to break apart once in while with any sort of enthusiasm, but they snap back together easily enough. Anyway, right before bed, but before reading time and lullabies and more reading, the kiddos grab their lanterns, and we turn off almost all the downstairs lights and swing our lanterns and sing eerie lantern songs. Sometimes we make shadow puppets. Eric has even started singing along with a little ghostly noise of his own, “oooooooh-ooooh.” I love being their mom.