Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Mom Had Worms: A Story for Earth Day

For the purposes of Earth Day (which really should be every day), I am going to exploit some family history:

My mom was a fan of compost long before compost cones made the whole setup easier. The little compost container by the side of the sink was a regular fixture in each of our successive homes. A homemade structure out in the back yard would contain all of our leftover fruit and vegetable peels. However, when I was in graduate school, my mom ordered a worm bin and put it in the basement.

The first day that the worm bin resided in the basement, my mom called the worm bin hotline to ask why the worms were looking so peaked and tired out. "They have jet lag," the customer service representative explained.

My mom asked, "Do they have personalities?"

The representative paused, and then said, "They have a collective personality."

Soon after, the worms staged their first jailbreak. Mom got them back into the bin, but after that, my brothers and I refused to go near it. My mom tried to convince my brothers and me that the worms were actually good tenants. We said NOTHING DOING, and told her that we would continue to put fruit and veggie scraps into the compost container upstairs, but when it came to feeding the worms, she was on her own. Every time the worms broke free, mom would yell, "Worm alert! Worm alert!" and try to get us to help her round them up. We were stubbornly uncooperative. Years later, when the worms finally died, my mother wept over their carcasses.*

These days, vermiculture is quite fashionable. My daughter does not care for most animals, but is a fan of insects and earthworms. I might be persuaded to host a "wormery" for her sake, but not until all of the other household projects on our list have been completed. That's a pretty safe statement to write.

Happy Earth Day!

*Yes, okay, that is an exaggeration. Many thanks to my mom for letting me take creative license with this story.


Charlotte said...

I am actually rather fond of my own worms...prescious litle composters that they are. So my sympathies are with your mother! Although I am not quite sure I would want them inside.

Have you and Lucia ever read Owly? It is a lovely wordless graphic novel about an Owl and his little Worm buddy.

And I also have always liked Richard Scary's Lowly Worm very much.

tanita davis said...

I think I would have cried if they'd died. We wanted to do this years ago, but we never owned a house with a yard/garden (our townhouse had a teensy yard, but we thought we'd wait for our real "someday" house.)

...still thinking SOMEDAY!

And HAH! Just for saying that, the Universe is now going to make sure all of your other household tasks get finished up so you can have WORMS!!!

Saints and Spinners said...

Charlotte: I just placed a library request for Owly. Thanks! And I was always a fan of Lowly Worm, too, and worms in the garden. It was just too much fun to give my poor mom a hard time, plus I didn't want to tread on any worms during their jailbreaks.

Tanita: I hope the Universe does just that. There are blinds to be replaced, a metal railing sunk into concrete that somehow got broken prior to our acquisition of the house and is currently bound by duct tape, a bathroom that still needs to be finished (baseboards), plus we need to build shelves. Also, I want big things bolted to the wall because we're in earthquake territory. I suppose it's time to repaint the walls, too, and varnish the floor where there's been too much friction. A worm bin is just a stone's throw away!

Jules at 7-Imp said...

I think you need worms. I don't think I could handle it, but it sounds like you can.

Having said that, we finally got a compost bin. But it's OUTSIDE of the house.

Lone Star Ma said...

Your mom is so cool. I'm going to learn to compost this summer.

Richard C. Gross said...

I agree with you and your brothers. Your mother wanted worms in our house. I told her I would feed them to the birds.


GalaxySurfer said...

I love the story about the worms but have my own rules when it comes to sharing the planet with other species. Basically, they stay outside the house! I suppose I am lucky to be in a position to have this rule. I have a garden and feed the birds every day. I am friends with the cat up the road (although he doesn't count me as one of his pride yet. You know how choosy cats are!) and I pat my customers' dogs.

However, when I went to have some of the chocolate cake my daughter had made for us the other day, and, upon opening the tin I found that some ants had made it their home in it then, I am afraid, I became extremely territorial and intolerant. (Or should that be intolerAnt?) The whole lot went straight into the recycling bin from where, I guess, the ants will meet a fiery end.

Ants at the end of the garden, fine, they make a good snack for the Woodpecker. Ants in the chocolate cake - WAR!!

Kate Coombs said...

This would make a fun picture book! (Happy Earth Day and Happy Spring!)

adrienne said...

I *want* to be the girl who can handle the compost worms, but I am not the girl who can handle the compost worms.

Saints and Spinners said...

Adrienne: Is there a song here?

Kate: Thanks! Happy Earth Day to you, too.

GalaxySurfer: I feel the same way about wanting the other species to stay outside. We have to deal with squirrels gnawing our wires, and spiders coming in during the mating season (Autumn).

Richard: Nature is red in beak and talon. ;)

LSM: I'm glad! I'll be curious to know how it works in your part of the world.

Jules: We'll see.

Lone Star Ma said...

It's hot and moist here - I fully expect it to be easy-peasy, but being completely ignorant of it, I may very well be wrong.