Organic Obstacle Course

It’s spring in mid Michigan. Today it rained since before I awoke to the evening news broadcast. We got about 1.5 cm (half inch and a skosh more) of rain, a steady light rain most of the day with a few stronger showers early in the day. Much needed both to wet the ground and to flush some of the tree pollen from the air.

I went to town to pickup a library card and to participate in the local election event at the fire station. On the way home, I noticed a certain sign of the end of the winter season, the beginning of the Olympic organic obstacle course from the parking lot to the apartment building.  There is a concrete walkway consisting of segments about a meter long and the same distance wide (it was poured in one piece, but there are “lines” sunk into the surface to help prevent buckling and should a break occur it will me more likely to split along the lines). As I left my car early in the afternoon (about 5-7 hours after the rains began) I noticed the earthworms had left the safety of the grass and were migrating down and across the walk. Lots of worms, each square had at least 2 and there were a couple with more than 25 squirming creatures slithering along the rough top surface.

Now let it be said that I am not a particularly cruel person. I don’t take pleasure from needlessly ending the lives of lesser creatures in the great chain of existence. I am not a master student of zen where I avoid harming any and every living creature (do these more zealous adherents eat yoghurt?) and I am not a maniacal slaughterer of any and everything that moves, crossing either line on the road to hit any and all targets within range. For the most part, I hold a middle of the path point of view. I like spiders but discourage them from living within the center of my space (corners and unused areas are fine). Now that I no longer deliver propane I have become more tolerant of wasp and hornet nests (at one time I carried nerve agents to take the battle successfully against these monsters). I allow anthills to rise unmolested in the cracks of the local sidewalks (when I would walk my son to the bus stop, it was a daily competition to see who would wipe current building progress off the face of the Earth… it never seemed to have any effect as the next day the course was rebuilt for that day’s event.)

I simply don’t like walking on worms. I don’t have an excessive love for these builders of healthy soil, having sent many generations of them to a watery grave to feed the fishes. (Occasionally a fish would mistakenly BITE the worm and come home for lunch, but that was a rare event.) With my disability, I try to avoid sticking my cane tip into anything nasty that will follow me home onto the fluffy carpet I walk on barefoot. Tips, actually, as I have a quad-footed cane that will stand in the corner unattended (but has 4 times the opportunity to squish crud into the floor), so it is more of a challenge to find wormless sidewalk in the rain. Coupled with my limited mobility, and I deserve at least bronze in the trip to and from the car. Silver when I carry bags from the store (or library, hint hint).

Much as I find snow a distraction, at least it discourages insect infestation. Ladybugs are fine, box elder bugs are neutral (but very annoying), but some of what’s out there is just nasty. One year when I participated in the Chesanning Showboat Choir, a show of local and national talent that performed on a faux paddle-style riverboat (the paddles were fake, the river and boat very real), the mayfly hatch was worse than usual. There were so many of the 1-3 inch bugs flying around that night the stagehands had to sweep the stage between acts to keep the performers from falling down. Street lights on the drive home attracted so many bugs the effective visibility was down to a couple dozen feet. The road got slippery from dead bugs.

Then there’s the “June bugs” coming later this month. They are a kind of beetle that spends the first part of it’s life as a white grub that destroys lawns before morphing into brown, crunchy flying irritants. They are attracted to area lights, so they will accumulate on the screens of outside doors open to allow cool breezes to come indoors on warm evenings. They have tiny claws on their feet, so if (when) they fly and land on your clothing (hair) you can’t easily brush them off. Add the fact they just look creepy and click and buzz when flying around the porch lights, I get the shudders just thinking about them.

Most of the year, I like living here. Summer brings micro pets (I habitually give back rubs to any mosquito that comes by) and brilliant sunny days (vinegar was mom’s go to for dealing with sunburn). Thunderstorms bring natural firework displays (and intermittent power outages). Temp and humidity will often be 90-90 during the dog days of summer (and will bite you in the [REDACTED] if your air conditioning goes out). All in all, spring in Michigan is just about perfect, Except when it’s not…

Gold medal for living here awarded after successfully keeping worms on the sidewalk!


post 63 of n


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s