Yesterday in that brief sunny respite from the pelting rain and hail, I dashed out for a walk. The approaching black clouds told me it wouldn’t be long before the torrents returned, so it would have to be a fast walk. As I stepped into the back alley, I glanced down. And there was a worm, a rain refugee, in spasms on the pavement. It looked like it might be too far gone, some green gooey stuff was oozing out of it. I stooped to pick it up and as I walked over to a garden area, I could feel the worm dancing in my hand. Slimed hand. Perhaps it would survive. The worm, not my hand. I placed it gently onto the ground under the protection of some ivy leaves. Okay, let’s get a move on.
I was at the beach now, moving briskly, when darn if I didn’t look down again. Another rain refugee on the sidewalk. This one looked pretty dry, but I gently moved it over to the grass. Worm slime on both hands now.
After umpteen years teaching wormshops, I know far too many worm facts. And no, if you cut them in half, you won’t get two worms. Well, you will, but they’ll be two dead worms. Worms have five pair of hearts and their respiratory system runs the full length of their body. The red wiggler variety, the kind you find in compost bins, leaf and manure piles, live in the top twelve inches of organic matter, they eat organic matter and they eat our garbage. A woman named Mary Appelhof, the original worm woman, wrote a book all about those garbage eaters. The worms I was rescuing yesterday were probably dew worms, also called night crawlers. These burrowers surface at night to collect organic matter, then bring their food back down into their burrows. All their mixing and aerating at deeper levels in the earth, helps keep the soil fertile. Great for the garden.
As I walked, I pondered this strange worm beaching phenomenon. I understand that the worms flee from their burrows when it’s pouring rain to avoid drowning, but why do they hang out so long on the pavement before returning home? Better reread Mary’s book. I would rescue one more worm before my walk was done, narrowly escaping the next downpour.
Another mixed bag of weather in the forecast today, cloudy, rainy, with sunny breaks. I have plans for a walk with a friend. Will have to warn him we’ll be moving at a worm’s pace. I think I’ll wear gardening gloves this time.