Do earthworms realize I’m doing my best for them? That I truly want them to not only survive, but thrive?
I don’t think so.
There’s no real awareness of my existence even when I pick one up from a wet sidewalk and toss it into a shady spot between the border plants before the sun comes out and dries the worm into a hard brown filament.
It doesn’t know it was saved from anything. The worm only knows it was lolling in some comfortable wetness, and then suddenly, in some comfortable dirt. If anything, it may have thought something grabbed it to eat it – but didn’t.
It doesn’t know that it had been standing (or squirming, or whatever it is that worms do on a wet sidewalk before it dries up) on the threshold of a horrible death.
Earthworms are like vampires. Direct sunlight destroys them utterly. UV rays have the same effect on them as if you or I stood next to an unshielded pile of a nuclear reactor. Toast. Literally.
It doesn’t bother me that they have no gratitude – not even a bit of appreciation – for me when I stoop down to move one from harm’s way before reaching over to yank a handful of weeds out of the ground, maybe pinch a carrot fly into oblivion, or squash a slug caught munching on my zucchini.
Earthworms have no concept of the real and significant role I play in their lives.
Indeed, they have no idea of the significant role they play in my life.
Ours is a reciprocal arrangement.
And while worms are incapable of understanding that our relationship exists, let alone that it goes both ways, I realize I’m often guilty of forgetting the importance of that relationship.
I have no excuse for forgetting. I just see myself as so immensely more powerful than an earthworm, that it is easy to allow myself the delusion that I am more important than the critters that feed the garden vegetables that feed me.
I sometimes need to remind myself that, when I reach down to shift an earthworm to a safer place or rescue a bee that has fallen into a puddle while getting a drink or provide some sunflower seeds for the hungry birdlings that emerge from the various nests they’ve built around my yard… I’m really just saving myself.