Growing, Not Dying

Welcome to my insights, ponderings, and experiences. Hopefully they will enrich you in some small way, or at least make you laugh.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


The soil was hard. It was clay really. A horrid place to try and grow a yard, let alone a garden. This is the kind of soil that requires a team of workers to make it usable. Experts have to be brought in to work night and day to break it up and mix in the needed nutrients. The kind of know how ingrained from a life of doing. This ground needed the best. It needed worms.

Thus it was. So on rainy afternoons my children and I would grab the bucket and go on a "Worm Walk." Worms were out in droves, especially on the block behind our property. Following the sidewalk we would gather worms out of the road, gutter and off the sidewalk. We looked for the big ones, thick and squirmy. 5-6 inches was a real prize. If it was in someone's yard or close to, it was off limits. We'd just push it into their lawn. However, if it was in the road, then we were really rescuing it before the sun could come out and dry them up. Although nearly all these hundreds of worms would disappear before the puddles, a few would inevitably get stuck out in the road and dry up if they weren't rescued.

We'd gather around 30 worms, sometimes more, sometimes less. They might get dumped into the front lawn, or maybe even the back. Most often though, they would get put into the garden. Each fall we mulched the garden. Each spring that mulch got turned into the soil. But by far the most important thing we did was add the worms.

This last fall we moved from our rock and clay yard to an apartment in the wet Pacific Northwest. We have often walked in the rain over the past few months but it wasn't until last week I realized what was missing. Worms! I saw no worms. How very odd.

Then only a couple days ago they came out. They were small and spindly, hardly worth noticing. Shorter than my pinkie! Touching them hardly made them wriggle. Tons of them couldn't even make it off the sidewalk before the sun came out. If they had made it out as far as the gutter it seemed they were goners. I couldn't help but think there wasn't a one we saw that would make decent fishing bait.

What in the world could cause such a difference, I wondered. The ground before was hard and nutritiously poor. The ground here is soft, so soft it squishes after a rain. Everything is so green. The soil must be rich. It must be like a worm Utopia compared to to the former ground. So how is it these new worms are so weak and puny were as the worms I knew were robust and lively? Could it possibly be that the work required to survive in the hard soil is exactly what made better worms, not the nutrients I imagine must be in the new soil? That living the life of ease was actually holding back these more inferior cousins? Is it the same for people? Might it be we need opposition and challenges in order to grow bigger and more robust? That living an easier life actually makes us weaker specimens?

Though I am not sure, for now I shall be grateful for the oppositions I have faced thus far, hoping they have made me to be of the strong fighter variety instead of leaving me weak and puny. If I find myself far from where I am safe, I want to be tough enough to make it back to friendlier ground!


Blogger Jim McKeeth said...

You have such a great writing style. I love reading your writing. I hadn't noticed the few small worms here either, but now that you mention it.

Maybe we need to go out in the middle of the night with a flashlight and look for night crawlers.

Wed Mar 19, 11:40:00 AM MDT  
Blogger mmm.chocolate said...

This is exceptionally well written and insightful. I really enjoyed reading it!

Wed Jun 18, 11:20:00 PM MDT  

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