Worm Whisperer

Some of y’all may have read that I save turtles from the road, and you thought I was soft-hearted. The truth of the matter is that I’m a little soft-headed. I’ll save durn near any critter if I can. Even the lowly earthworms. I would have made a good Buddhist, if they’d let me eat bacon.

You see, when I take my walk in the morning, most of my neighbors have just run their lawn sprinklers. When they do, those itty-bitty worms start wiggling out of the earth so they won’t drown. They keep on squirming until they are out on the pavement. At first, it isn’t bad for them, because the pavement is moist and it feels good. They keep right on inching along out into the street. Their minuscule little brains don’t tell them this isn’t a good idea.

For some reason unknown to me, because it seems like easy pickin’s, the robins don’t ever think to swoop down on the pavement and gobble up these worms. Instead either the cars squash ’em flat, or the worms keep wiggling farther into the street. Not very long into the morning, the Texas sun starts blazing down and the streets dry up. So do the worms. They don’t think to turn around or change direction; they just keep going forward, even if it is to their ultimate doom. Their little carcasses, all twisted in agony, litter the streets later in the day.

This morning, as I was rounding the corner I stopped dead in my tracks. At first I couldn’t tell if the critter on the street was a worm or a grass snake. It was at least eight inches long. By golly, it was an earthworm. The Granddaddy of All Earth Worms! That was the biggest dadburn worm I’d ever seen in all my born days! It was lost out there on the pavement. That’s why I know it was a “he-worm” instead of a “she-worm.” He didn’t take the time to stop to ask directions. [For those of you who think I didn’t take Biology, I am aware that worms have both male and female organs, but they still mate, so give me a break. I’m not as dumb as I look; this is a story.]

Well, I squatted down beside Granddaddy Worm and started talking to him. Yes, I talked to the worm. I’m a Worm Whisperer.

“What in the world,” I asked him, “do you think you are doing, Granddaddy? Don’t you know that you’ll get squashed flatter’n a flitter on the road? Why, if we put your brain in a blue jay, it would fly backwards; yes it would. Now, you’ve lived a long time, and this doesn’t seem like a good day to die. So, let’s just put you right back in this Asian jasmine and you can snuggle down and get back in the earth where you belong!”

I picked up that squirmy worm and deposited him in the leaves of the yard from whence he came. Then, I stood up and wiped my hands on my shorts and looked up. A gray-haired old man was standing in his front yard. He was staring at me slack-jawed, shaking his grizzled head back and forth. He didn’t say a thing, but his eyes said it all, “Now, I’ve seen everything.”

Well, people, I bootscooted on around the corner quicker’n a hot iron can scorch a cotton dress. I was as embarrassed as a preacher with a broken zipper. Now, I wasn’t sorry that I saved the worm; I would do that again. I was just wishing I hadn’t talked to it! I walked an extra half-mile so I wouldn’t have to pass that old man’s house again. That gave me lots of time to think. This is what I thunk: we can take a life lesson from that worm I saw this morning.

Sometimes people are a whole lot like those earthworms. We start going down a path that is leading us nowhere (or to destruction) and we don’t even consider changing our course or turning a different direction. We might be in agony, but we just keep wiggling onward. You would think that humans, being a higher order and all, would have more sense than that.

Ponder that awhile, and tell me what you think. Are you acting like an earthworm? Or, do you have the sense to make the changes when you see you are going nowhere?

{Editor’s Note: This post was made into a podcast, if you would like to hear it.}

  15 comments for “Worm Whisperer

  1. May 17, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Great analogy. We fear the discomfort of changing our course, and yet are willing to suffer the most painful end in staying the deadly course. Fun post. πŸ˜€

    Thanks Damien, I’m honored you think so! I’ve been so much like those worms in my life that it struck me as strange to come to that realization. I figured you would think I had gone to “folksy.” I don’t spell things properly on purpose (I hope you know).~skt

  2. May 17, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    Yes, I have acted as an earthworm, on occasion, but at times I redirect like a laser turning the corner on the wall. But, to heck with that, I just hope I am lucky enough to be present as you age — to hear the term eccentric replace eclectic as it is spouted from the younger generation who are then your neighbors — but then maybe I need to keep an ear out for the older generation in your neighborhood, they may be saying it now. (Written in fun by someone who may also be called eccentric later – or worse – and by the way, great job tying the earthworm and humans together.)

    πŸ˜† Eccentric? I was that the day I was born. Doesn’t bother me for you to call me that. I revel in it! Thanks for stopping by to comment. I always value hearing your opinion. When someone who can write the way you do takes the time to comment, it’s better than a “Thinking Blogger” award (and I don’t have to name five people!). ~skt

  3. May 17, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Sometimes a life is just a life. You would fit in quite well in our household where the glass comes out to go over a lost bee or incovenient spider (even a poisonous one). Then a paper is slid under until the suicidal creature is in an enclosed space. They are then escorted to the safety of the great outdoors.

    A passing bird may turn them into lunch, but my conscience is clear until I dine on a chicken that has never offended me in any way.

    Being an omnivore has it’s drawbacks.

    Jamie! Thanks for commenting. Oh, your house sounds exactly like mine. Little jumping spiders on my computer get moved outside. I am guilty of slapping the ants, but only because it was war. I’m a pacifist on most counts, but not when the invasion is my kitchen! And, yes, I eat bacon. Once one of my Papaw’s pigs tried to eat my coat, and I’m paying back his whole miserable race. πŸ˜† I’ll have to find a present for you because you commented!~skt

  4. Jen
    May 17, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    I get the analogy of the worm going off, but what does it say about a large being coming in to redirect? That sometimes you get rescued without being asked and to accept it for what it is.

    I think my son need that large being to redirect him.

    We get the worm thing up here also on the pavement, kind of yucky.

    LOL! I hadn’t thought of it in that context. Sometimes it would be nice if we all had a large being to redirect us. I guess that’s why my karma keeps biting me in the rear, eh?~skt

  5. May 17, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    8 inch worms? That’s a snake to a Chicago gal like me! They do say everything is bigger in Texas! Except for maybe that cockroach I saw in Mexico that I thought was a small dog. Yikes!

    I’m not a fan of any creepy crawly thing really, but like you, I definitely would have saved it. I probably would have even talked to it, too. If someone thinks you are weird, so what. I’ve seen people talking to worse πŸ™‚

    We are awaiting the emergence of the 17 year cicadas on Tuesday, which is my birthday. What a present! They say our area will have 2 million of them per acre. I’m too lazy to do the math considering my considerably smaller lot size but…EGADS! I’m sure I will be spending a considerable amount of the summer inside blogging πŸ™‚

    Do you have them in Texas, too?

    Oh, and I am definitely NOT earthworm. In fact, I tried to shake up all the earthworms with my TT πŸ™‚

    Jessica The Rock Chick

    We don’t have cicadas to that amount per acre that I know of. Yes, they serenade us in the trees. I just like to think of it as very loud love songs. Happy Birthday again.~skt

  6. May 17, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    I hope that I would have the sense to change course, although unfortunately it is often easier to forge ahead to one’s doom.

    I loved your earthworm rescue story. It reminded me of when I was in elementary school.

    After a rain, I used to go around the playground “saving” the worms from drying out by putting them in puddles. It wasn’t until much later in life that I discovered that worms breath through their skin and that I must have drowned millions of them! I cried and cried!!

    I just discovered your blog and I like it!

    Awww! How devastating when you thought you were helping! Great story…thanks for sharing it. That’s always what I’m hoping will happen. That someone will tell ME a story! Have a great weekend!~skt

  7. Lene
    May 17, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    What a great post! I had to laugh at the old man watching you and shaking his head. hehe Too funny!

    Thank you, Lene. I had to laugh, too! I hope I don’t see him again on my walks.~skt

  8. May 18, 2007 at 6:05 am

    I want to be an earthworm right now. Some serious changes may be in store for us — and I’m just going to bury my hand in the sand and pretend nothing’s happenin’ .
    I thought this was lovely.

    I can’t reach down and save you, but if you want to write and tell me about it sweetie, I’ll listen. We haven’t talked in a couple of days anyway. Hope you are feeling better.~skt

  9. May 18, 2007 at 8:56 am

    I loved that ‘worm’ analogy! It is so true for us in life – we meander along a path that may be the worst for us and often times we don’t even notice it. Every once in awhile a nice kindly person like yourself may say to you ‘what the heck are you doing?’ – If that happens you may get back on track and realize ‘hey I am on the wrong path, thanks for noticing’.

    You see and hear about people on the wrong path all the time and I guess no one has taken the time to sit them down and have a chat, or their ears and minds are closed to the idea that they may be on the wrong road.

    It’s so easy to see someone else on the wrong path than it is to realize you may also have taken a wrong turn here or there.

  10. May 18, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Oh my goodness, Shelly, you are a woman after my own heart. I loved your earthworm story — I would have saved him, too. I feel so sorry for the poor dried up earthworms on the pavement after the sun has come out.

    And LMAO at the old man saying “Now I’ve seen everything” after hearing you talk to the worm. HEE! I don’t guess I need to tell you I would have talked to the worm, too. πŸ˜€

    And yes, your earthworm analogy — there are a distressing number of people who are on the Earthworm Track, and it’s so sad. Sometimes it’s obvious, as with paths of self-destruction, but sometimes it’s more subtle: people who do whatever they think they’re “supposed” to do, blindly making choices and following a life script when their hearts just aren’t in it only to end up bitter and dissatisfied with their lives — dried up and/or squashed on the road of life, if you will.

    To employ an old cliche, life isn’t a dress rehearsal, so we’d best make the most of it.

    Thanks for a delightfully funny and thought-provoking post!

  11. May 18, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    I used to try to save everything but after acquiring 8 pets, I don’t do that so much.

    Great analogy!

  12. May 18, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    Very good post…even though my skin is crawling because worms FREAK ME OUT! lol!! I have some issues! lol!!

    We ALL have “issues” don’t we? πŸ˜† Thanks for the kudos.

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