When I was a boy with a butterfly net perpetually over my shoulder, on one occasion I witnessed a fight between a wasp and a large spider. The spider lost the contest. The wasp dragged the spider’s paralyzed body to its burrow where it would eventually be devoured by the larva when it hatched.
When I found myself enrolled in a writing class my final semester at Drury in 1959, that scene is what I wrote about. Based on it, my professor, Dr. Clark Graham, encouraged me to become a writer.
Yesterday I found myself writing a 100-word end note about tarantulas. I wrote about the spider’s mortal enemy, a wasp called “tarantula hawk,” which stings and paralyzes the tarantula, drags its body to its burrow, and plants an egg on it for a first meal when the larva hatches.
Dr. Graham didn’t live long enough after retirement for me to have a chance to thank him. By the time my first publication came out, it was too late. But thinking about spiders and wasps and college and Dr. Graham and the beginning of my career made it a good day. Way to go, Dr. Graham!