A Classic Revisited

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Cozily snuggled under the comforter with a cup of coffee and absorbed in the Washington Post on my Kindle, I energize myself to kickstart my day. On one such cold winter morning, as I hopscotched from one news item to another, I happened to read an article that warmed my heart.

A historic blizzard pounded the east coast of USA during the weekend of January 24th. Driving back home with his family from a day of skiing, 13-year-old Perry Smith spotted something moving up the hillside off a road near Hagerstown in Maryland. With limited visibility in the middle of a heavy snow, it was initially hard to tell what it was. To their surprise, the Smith family discovered that the pink little lump was a tiny piglet. With a snipped tail and a number tattooed on its ear, it was evident that the piglet was raised on an industrial farm to be slaughtered and might have fallen out of a transport truck. The father of the family pulled out the tiny creature from the snow, wrapped it in his daughter’s sweatshirt and took it away with them. The piglet was hand-fed rice cereal and bananas and cradled to be warm and snug in the hotel room where the Smiths lodged for the night. Perry and his 12-year-old sister Catherine took turns caring for the baby pig, and they named him Wee Wee.

As much as the children entertained hopes of keeping the little pig in their home, they could not because it was illegal in their suburban community to keep a pig as a pet. Papa Smith is the co-owner of a DC restaurant group and there were hints from his chef friends that Wee Wee would taste pretty good. He outright rejected their suggestion and instead took the piglet to Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, a facility run by vegans. Stranded in the snow, Wee Wee was at the high risk of dying of hypothermia. So once at the sanctuary, he was treated in its medical center. An equivalent of animal heaven, Wee Wee now has a bright future of spending his days with other pigs in the comfort of a heated, red-roofed barn on beds of soft hay.

After reading the inspiring news I was instantly reminded of E.B.White’s children’s classic Charlotte’s Web. In this story, a little girl named Fern Arable pleads with her father to save the life of a piglet from being slaughtered as runt of the litter. She names it Wilbur and lovingly nurtures it to health. Wilbur is moved to the Zuckerman farm where Charlotte the spider befriends him and makes him experience the sweet taste of love and friendship. When plans for Wilbur’s slaughter are out in the air, Charlotte weaves praises of Wilbur in her web. The act draws the attention of Zuckerman and his neighbors who interpret the happening as divine intervention, and Wilbur is saved a second time from being killed. Thereafter he spends his days in the farm with his other animal friends. Charlotte extends her unconditional friendship to Wilbur till the last days of her life by weaving messages about him that establish his stature as a pig who is phenomenal and completely out of the ordinary.

The story of the Smith family saving the little piglet Wee Wee from the blizzard made me revisit a classic that teaches the gospel of love, loyalty, and friendship. A fictional tale set primarily in an animal world, Charlotte’s Web, highlights the superiority of intangible values. It strikes a chord and underscores the fact that it is ultimately the feelings of care and concern, empathy and sincerity, humanity and brotherhood, that give us hope and make this planet a wonderful place to live in, even in the midst of life’s bitter realities. The compassion and kindness of the Smiths has led the little piggy to a safe home. Here’s to wishing Wee Wee a very happy stay at Poplar Springs Sanctuary with his barnyard friends!


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