Worm Day

It’s a dark and stormy Saturday morning. When I jumped out of bed and opened the blinds and whispered my cheery “good morning, Lord!”, I have to admit that deep down underneath that good intention to be cheery was a resounding “ugh”. But I resolutely ignored that (I mean, who wants to say “ugh” to God first thing in the morning!) and saw beyond the grey skies to the glory of being alive for another day. And yes, that gladness to be alive is genuine.

But so is that “ugh”. While rainy days can conjure up some happy images, like children splashing in puddles (with or without rain boots), most of my rainy day memories are not so pleasant. Not being able to see where I was going because of the raindrops on my glasses. Arriving at school soaking wet and having to sit all morning in squishy socks and cold corduroy pants (usually red, my Mom loved dressing me in red corduroy pants way back in those early years). Getting splashed by every car and bicycle that drove past me.

But the worst thing about rainy days were the worms. Big fat juicy worms, all over the sidewalks and roadways. Honestly, to this day, the memory makes me cringe and cry. I have never been able to figure out the “why” of this, but from as far back as I can remember, I’ve had a huge problem with worms on the sidewalks on rainy days. It would take me forever to walk to school, because I could never bring myself to step on a worm, and so I would have to tiptoe around every single worm out there on those rainy days. And for those who don’t remember, there were a lot more worms back then than there are now. So the sidewalks and roads were COVERED in worms. The entire sidewalk and roadway were literally crawling with worms. There just aren’t enough words to describe the nightmare that rainy days were for me. I would be crying in the middle of the street on my way to school because there was no place for me to put down my foot without stepping on a worm, or worse, a bunch of worms, in one step.

Ugh indeed.

Now you’d think that as I got older, this problem abated, Not so. I have a vivid memory of one dark and stormy night in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I had stayed late at a friend’s house to watch a movie and was walking the few blocks home alone. Normally this took me about 5-7 minutes at the most. This night, it took me over an hour to get home. Because in the glare of the street lamps on the wet sidewalks, I couldn’t tell the difference between twigs and worms. They all looked alike to me.  And it all brought those early nightmarish memories crashing down on me. Once again, I was crying, because no matter where I put my foot, I would potentially step on worms. Part of me knew that many of those potential worms were actually twigs, but it didn’t matter…I couldn’t take the chance and that long walk home was a living nightmare for me.

To this day, I still cannot step on a worm on the sidewalk. And if I do and realize that I did, I’m so upset that I often end up crying yet again. I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed for whatever it would take for me to be able to reach down and pick up those worms and throw them back into the grass. But to this day, I still cannot do that. I can’t deliberately step on them, but I still can’t touch one either. And when I wake up in the morning to a rainy day and the windows are open, I can smell the worms before I even open my eyes. Yes, there’s a worm smell. Not entirely unpleasant, but because of the memories it conjures up in me, it’s not such a welcome smell first thing in the morning. As soon as I smell that smell, I immediately begin to plan for an indoor day – not because I don’t like the rain, but because I don’t want to step on worms.

This “thing” with worms has made it very hard to garden. I love the IDEA of gardening, and do garden early in the spring before the worms come out. But once there’s a risk of digging in my spade and chopping into a worm, that’s when my stomach churns and makes gardening so unpleasant that I simply don’t do it anymore until there’s little or no chance of killing any more worm.

One thing about this “thing”…and despite an entire lifetime of this obsessive compulsive avoidance of stepping on worms, I’m sad to observe this…that there aren’t as many worms today as there were back when I was a child. I’m not sure why, although we could easily Google it and find all sorts of scary information on the why – and significance – of the disappearance of the worms from our sidewalks and roadways, but I haven’t done so yet. And while it does make it easier to pull myself out the front door on a rainy day, it still also makes me sad. As difficult as they’ve made my life, the worms have also blessed my world with their God-given gift for helping gardens grow. I don’t miss the angst of taking hours to walk just a few feet, but I do understand that NOT seeing them isn’t such a good thing either.

Be that as it may, it’s a dark and stormy Saturday morning out there this morning. The windows are closed so I can’t smell them yet, but I don’t have to smell them to know they’re out there. In the mind of the little child who still meanders through my memories, it’s definitely a worm day. And everything in me cries “Ugh”.

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2012. All rights reserved.

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About Sharon

I love to write. I love to write myself into being right here right now. Writing releases something in me that needs wings, writing opens doors and windows that I often don't even realize are possible, writing helps me breathe out the dusty old, and to breathe in the new and possible. My hope is that maybe writing here in this blog will bring new light into these dusty old hallways and help me to clear out the thinking processes and mindsets that just don't work for me anymore. I seek to breathe new light and life into the nooks and crannies of a soul that has been feeling somewhat lost and frayed because of the last few patches of road I've had to travel.
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5 Responses to Worm Day

  1. Interesting. I think many of us have similar stories, maybe not about worms, but about other things. Mine is spiders. I know they are helpful, but if I even think there might be one in the house, I panic. And you don’t want to see me if I inadvertently walk through parts of a web! I can admire the intricately woven webs, but only from a distance!!

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    • Sharon says:

      Thanks Ruth. Yes, I think most people have something. Spiders don’t bother me unless they’re in the bathtub. Or suddenly fall on my face when I’m sleeping. I swallowed one once that way. Not delicious at all, lol. I’d rather not see them, but they don’t make me squirm like worms do. Walking through a web, though, that’s a different story! Ugh indeed!!

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  2. Angelika says:

    I wish we got worms when it rains here. Instead, we get slugs; hundreds of them bathing in puddles, hanging on walls, fences, flower pots, leaves, sidewalks and concrete stairs. After seeing those ugly fat slimy creatures; I tell you, – worms are a treat. 🙂

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    • Sharon says:

      Oh Angelika, I have to agree. Slugs would be way more ugh-y than worms! I’d rather not step on either, or have to look at them squirming everywhere I look. But having had a whole herd of ugly fat slimy slugs flung at me once when hubby uprooted a stubborn rose bush, I’d have to say that slugs are by far ickier. I’ll remember that the next time I see a worm on the sidewalk…see, there’s always something to be grateful for! Now when I see a worm, instead of saying “ugh”, I’ll say “I’m so glad you’re not a slug!”

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  3. Angelika says:

    Haha, and the worm will say, “I’m so glad you aren’t a fish”.

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