A Plethora of Worminess

If even the moon is not bright
    and the stars are not pure in his eyes,
how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot—
    a human being, who is only a worm!” Job 25:5-6

 

A sunny spring day lured us outside for yard and garden prep for the anticipated grass and weed explosion in a few short weeks. We’ve been carefully composting horse manure for years behind the barn, and it was time to dig in to the 10 foot tall pile to spread it on our garden plots. As Dan pushed the tractor’s front loader into the pile, steam rose from its compost innards. As the rich soil was scooped, thousands of newly exposed red wiggler worms immediately dove for cover. Within seconds, thousands of naked little creatures had, well, …wormed their way back into the security of warm dirt, rudely interrupted from their routine. I can’t say I blamed them.

Hundreds of thousands of wigglers ended up being forced to adapt to new quarters, leaving the security of the manure mountain behind. As I smoothed the topping of compost over the garden plot, the worms–gracious creatures that they are–tolerated being rolled and raked and lifted and turned over, waving their little bodies expectantly in the cool air before slipping back down into the dark. There they will begin their work of digesting and aerating the tired soil of the garden, reproducing in their unique hermaphroditic way, leaving voluminous castings behind to further feed the seedlings to be planted.

Worms are unjustly denigrated by humans primarily because we don’t like to be surprised by them. We don’t like to see one in our food, especially only part of one, and are particularly distressed to see them after we’ve digested our food. Once we get past that bit of squeamishness, we can greatly appreciate their role as the ultimate recyclers, leaving the earth a lot better off once they are finished with their work. We humans actually suffer by comparison, so to be called “a worm” is really not as bad as it sounds at first. The worm may be offended by the association.

I hope to prove a worthy innkeeper for these new tenants.
May they live long and prosper.
May the worm forgive my rake and shovel.
May I smile appreciatively the next time someone calls me a mere worm.

Plenty Messy and Mushy

Politics is applesauce.
~Will Rogers
Our transparent apple trees are heavily burdened with fruit this time of year, to the point of breaking branches crashing to the ground with the weight. There have been few windfalls.

There is a short span for this variety between fruit too green and sour becoming too mealy and mushy.  With the hot weather, the thin-skinned apples will start to crack and turn to mush right on the tree without even letting go first.  So the window for applesauce is now, this week, ready or not.

Applesauce-making is one of my more satisfying domestic activities.  Peeling and coring apples can be tedious, there are always a few bad spots to cut out, and though rare with the organic transparents, there is the occasional wiggling worm to dispose of before cooking.  They make a tart sauce, need no sugar;  but with all the careful preparation before the cooking, the result is smooth to the tongue and a lovely creamy light color, with all blemishes removed, extra unwanted wormy protein deposited in the compost bucket along with mountains of peel, cores and seeds.

Would that I could similarly pare out, peel off, dispose in the compost all the political flyers flooding our mailbox, the automated telephone voter polls coming into our “unlisted” number, the radio, TV and internet ads that burden us all until we crack and break under the weight.  Actually most of the election fruit is already rotting on the tree, turning us to mush in the process.  I’m weary just thinking about the millions of dollars spent in advertising candidates that could be used for far greater good and benefit for the citizenry.

The process of selecting a president and members of Congress, a governor and voting on controversial initiatives can be so vile and mean-spirited that the whole kettle of sauce is spoiled.   I could cook it all day long and there still will be worms waving in the air, rotten cores festering, scabby peels floating on top, the bottom scalding with the heat of the cook stove.  How does a reasonable person decide what is best for the country when nothing is transparent at all in what politicians say versus what they do?

And how palatable will the political flavors be when all is said and done?   I guess we’ll need to wait until November to know how the messy mush of elections will taste.

Thankfully I will have stored up plenty of the real stuff in the freezer so we can drown our misery in the creaminess of summer apples prepared and cooked to perfection: no blemishes, no scabs, no rot, and no worms waving back.

What a world.

Hostelry of Worms

a cross section of 30 months of composted manure
a plethora of red wigglers

A sunny spring day lured us outside for yard and garden prep for the anticipated grass and weed explosion in a few short weeks. We’ve been carefully composting horse manure for over two years behind the barn, and it was time to dig in to the 10 foot tall pile to spread it on our garden plots. As Dan pushed the tractor’s front loader into the pile, steam rose from its compost innards. As the rich soil was scooped, thousands of newly exposed red wiggler worms immediately dove for cover. Within seconds, thousands of naked little creatures had, well, …wormed their way back into the security of warm dirt, rudely interrupted from their routine. I can’t say I blamed them.

Hundreds of thousands of wigglers ended up being forced to adapt to new quarters today, leaving the security of the manure mountain behind. As I smoothed the topping of compost over the garden plot, the worms–gracious creatures that they are–tolerated being rolled and raked and lifted and turned over, waving their little bodies expectantly in the cool air before slipping back down into the dark. There they will begin their work of digesting and aerating the tired soil of the garden, reproducing in their unique hermaphroditic way, leaving voluminous castings behind to further feed the seedlings to be planted.

Worms are unjustly denigrated by humans primarily because we don’t like to be surprised by them. We don’t like to see one in our food, especially only part of one, and are particularly distressed to see them after we’ve digested our food. Once we get past that bit of squeamishness, we can greatly appreciate their role as the ultimate recyclers, leaving the earth a lot better off once they are finished with their work. We humans actually suffer by comparison, so to be called “a worm” is really not as bad as it sounds at first. The worm may not think so.

I hope to prove a worthy innkeeper for these new tenants. May they live long and prosper. May worms be forgiving for the continual disruption of their routine. May I smile the next time someone calls me a worm.

The garden is covered with rich composted manure