Why I Love Earthworms

When I was a toddler, I lived in a small house on a large yard. My front yard was meadow. I recall running through the tall grass and happening upon gorgeous, towering, to my miniature self, wild irises. Even more exciting were the tiny, sweet, wild strawberries that I found at my feet, and quickly gobbled up.

When my parents succumbed to the traditional front lawn, a new adventure was in store. My father liked to hunt wild food: watercress, mushrooms and small game. And he liked to fish.

Fishing requires worms. Dad had his own way of finding and catching earthworms. He took a flashlight and his barefoot girl for a stroll on our lawn after dark. When my foot touched worm, I squealed as it wiggled trying to return to it's underground home. My father would shine the flashlight at my feet and catch the worm before it escaped.

Memories tell the story of a life. Though they shift and change with time, memories draw a thread from one end of your life to the other. Unless dementia interferes with your recollections.

I love earthworms. I love what they represent: healthy, well aerated soil, teeming with life, nature in it's best and most basic form. And I love memories that feature earthworms, with my dad and with my children, and in my years of gardening.

That single memory of finding earthworms with my dad describes who I am and what is important to me better than my curriculum vitae ever could. A collection of memories tells a story of a life and in my work with elders I see how important it is to capture the memories of each life, before they wiggle away. I can only hope that when I am in my nineties I will still recall the summer evenings I walked on the cool, moist grass with my father anticipating when I could say "Here's one, Daddy!"