Last night we had one of those awesome Texas thunderstorms with lots of lightening, pounding rain and loud thundery noise. I bet it rained all night long, though I can’t be sure because I did manage to doze off a few times. This morning, when I went outside to go to yoga class, I came across the not-uncommon sight of stranded earthworms on the path. They had crawled out of the wet earth so that they could avoid drowning during the downpour. Imagine it. During the storm, they had to eat and poop their way through the dirt to the top of the soil, find the edge of the garden, climb on a completely vertical cement surface about 10 inches up to the path and then they got up there and lost all sense of direction. I know they are blind, but doesn’t that seem weird? Anyway, there they were, on the path before me, drying up and listless. Some of them were moving very slowly and some had given up completely. The scene was critical– life or death time, people. These worms needed some help.
I bent down to toss the first few earthworms into the garden, feeling like the child in that Jesus-story tossing the starfish back into the sea. Some of the earthworms were dull and dark brown, but still moving. They moved as if they were severely arthritic. They didn’t resist “capture” at all. Then there were the ones that were glossy but a little tired of trying. They were moving slowly but when I reached down to pick them up they started squirming and flailing (if worms can flail). I tried to sooth them with my non-bird voice, but I guess the adrenaline was pumping through their 5 aortic arches and I am definitely a stranger so flip and flail they did do. It wasn’t easy, but I got those, too. There were a few worms that were starting to look a little distended—the ones in the puddles of rainwater. Got ‘em. Tossed ‘em. At this point, my quads were weary, my fingers were slimy and I was a few minutes later than I was already going to be to class… but there were a lot more worms on the path so I shuffled forth and now with a dried up leaf, I scooped up the ones that were in easy reach and flung them out into the garden too.
I’ve done this a hundred times before, I bet. I grew up in Texas where there are a lot of earthworms and a lot of downpours and I’ve never been too worried about slime. Today’s experience wasn’t all that different from the other times that I’ve tossed earthworms back into the garden except that today I suppose I’m a bit more contemplative or maybe it’s that now I have a blog— a reason to consider these things in a different way. Maybe the yoga really is helping me to feel more connected to the universe. Whatever it is, I empathized with those earthworms on the path. I appreciated the struggle they endured to escape death-by-drowning. I love their instinctual survival mechanisms that got them to the path. I postponed my departure because I saw the danger that they were in. I could relate to the ones that were drying up and just didn’t have a lot of fight in them, and I could see myself in those slimy little gals (are earthworms sexed?) who looked totally discouraged, but fought like hell when they thought they were about to be eaten. Hells yeah. (I was mostly grossed out by the distended pink ones, but hey, there might come a time when I can personify those worms too and make that experience relevant to my life. I’m not going to rule it out.) This world is rough and amazing, perilous and kind for earthworms and for the likes of you and me.
Today, in my kid yoga class, we are going to do lots of squirming and worming. I’ll let you know how it goes.