Sunday, September 6, 2009

FIELD NOTES: I have never seen my garden in such a sorry state...

Sunday afternoon, Labor Day Weekend

...between recreation, vacation, extreme weather, and work, I had left them to nature’s reactions of self-preservation and opportunity. The zebra grass is of jungle proportions, leaning out over the stone walkway like switchblades. I give it a good haircut and rein it in with green garden twine like an unruly mop of hair. The weeds are as large as my perennials…and look healthier. As I dig them out and rejuvenate the beds with the red cedar mulch that has been lying in bags on my driveway all summer, I feel something cool on my foot. Thinking it is a spear of zebra grass I look down and squeak, not because I am repelled, but because it is surprising to see a large earthworm weaving itself through the thong of my blue rubber flip-flop. I slip the sandal off and the worm transfers itself to the moist insole. Trying to be sensitive to the worm’s needs, I slide it back onto the soil, but this creature with no legs, arms or eyes, seems to be seeking out my foot with its head, sensing and breathing through its skin. What am I to this worm? I have no clitellum for mating. What does it want, what does it need? Charles Darwin, who studied the earthworm for thirty-nine years, had this to say: "The plow is one of the most ancient and most valuable of man's inventions; but long before he existed, the land was in fact regularly plowed and still continues to be thus plowed by earthworms. It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures."

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