Friday, August 10, 2012

On August 10th, 2012, rain continued to fall on the 52nd day of summer. On the day of the Earthworm, ask yourself clearly the question: what to do with 42 days left to summer?


We are enjoying a good soaking rain. Our rain arrived late this summer. We needed three inches in June and three inches in July. We got days of sunshine, but not enough inches. On the Mississippi River, the American Queen, a paddlewheeler, had to give up its trip to Vicksburg, Mississippi because the river had grown too shallow. Those passengers boarding buses for Vicksburg must have been ticked and disappointed. Rain failed to fall upon the watershed of the Mississippi, and so the water drew down low. I imagine two years of normal rain will be required to replenish water levels on the lower Mississippi. Corn and Soybean fields have failed in the Midwest, and prices are already escalating. I am hoping somewhere in the United States somebody had a normal crop of corn and soybeans.
Earthworms are not exactly delighted with the deluge after so little rain. I saw one crawling across the concrete of the Tim Horton's patio, flushed out of its hole. Earthworms breath through their skin, so sticking its head out of the hole isn't enough to keep an earthworm from suffocating. We always get more rain when our sunlight hours start to decline, and this rain flushes out the worms. Which is perfect, since Robins and Grackles must prepare for the winter ahead, when frozen ground and snow cover keep the worms from their beaks. I guess earthworms have to learn to survive in that part of the ground that rarely freezes, staying fifty degrees fahrenheit all year round. I am not hear to write about Earthworms as an expert but to speculate about the species. The Robins might as well have a feast because many earthworms drown upon the wet pavement and end up as dried worm jerky when the sun returns.
I was a fisherman as a boy, so I was always digging up worms. Then I learned to nightcrawler, which is a verb. I would crawl upon the wet grass with a flashlight in my mouth, moving quietly to keep the nightcrawlers from pulling back into the hole. The crawlers can retract with stunning speed. The trick was to grasp the crawler as close to the hole as possible and then pull their body out tightly. Not tightly enough to snap, but tightly enough to make the crawler tire from the effort of holding onto its tunnel wall. When the moment of fatigue came, pulling the nightcrawler all the way out became simple. My mom began to sell the nightcrawlers through my father, who took them into work at the GM shop in Warren, Michigan. I never saw any of the money, but I did have a roof over my head for the time of snow drifts and for the time of fireflies. I helped by using those nightcrawlers to catch bigger fish, the largemouth bass for one, putting food on my mother's table for her and my four siblings. I even watered the lawn during dry spells to make sure the nightcrawlers came up. We never depleted the yard.
My one Uncle Louie refused to use nightcrawlers. He felt he could be more effective with lures, and some lures have greater fish pulling power than worms. One of my neighbors became quite the bass fisherman, and he learned to inject enough air in the tail of a nightcrawler so that the tail floated on the retrieve. My daughter wanted to add worms to the hooks of the lures I taught her to retrieve in the waters of Haven Hill Lake, a lake in Highland, Michigan dammed up by the Ford family, who lived on Haven Hill. I told her that defeated the purpose, and so I let her fish with a bobber and angle worms. I always baited the hook and wore a plastic glove when I removed the fish, choosing to fish catch and release. She called it "Catch and Go". I understand the PETA people frown on fishing all together, and I wonder if my daughter and her generation will turn their back on the old way of fishing.
I have been having long form dreams that last until I wake up around 6:30 AM. Thursday morning, I dreamt I was watching a woman working the audience at a personal development conference and she lightly kicked each man in the shins as she said goodbye. The shin kick came during the handshake and it worked for her. The shin kicks delighted the male clients. I drove up to the door of the meeting hall and she jumped into my convertible and we drove off. She didn't kick me in the shins. This morning, Friday morning, I was teaching a class on American poetic texts, and I had three scholars watching my instruction. One of the students had a reputation as a problem solver in the humanities area, and the three scholars wanted to make sure I taught him well, so that his full potential developed. The entire class burst out into song, all of them dress in the more formal clothes of 1880s England. The song reminded me of "It's a Gift to Be Simple", but the tune sounded different and the lyrics I don't remember at all. The choice student had eaten it all up, and the three scholars gave me high marks on the evaluation completed in the last minutes of the dream.
Earthworms amaze the casual student. The Earthworm has male and female sexual functions and cannot fuck itself. It must find another Earthworm to inseminate its eggs. A field in nature can have as many as two million worms living under an acre of meadow. If a herd of deer stood upon that meadow, the dirt beneath their hooves could have more protein than above it. I am sure the first animal I ever noticed had to be an Earthworm, I went out two days in a row to look at an Earthworm living in the dirt, lying on its side, next to our Ranch house in Warren, Michigan. My friend Tony told me about the ring, where sexual organs awaited use. My mother didn't pick up on my fascination, and she dismissed it as a stupid worm and probably doubted her second son's intelligence.
 The American Queen
Photo of the American Queen by Thegreenj
Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D)
Lens: Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro
Focal length: 50mm (80mm in 35mm equivalent)
Aperture: f/ 5.6
Exposure time: 1/640 s.
ISO: 100

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