Yesterday when I pulled a length of arugula out from one of the hoop houses, there was an amazing show of earthworms in and around the plants’ roots. I had never seen so many worms. I kept stopping to watch them, to bump them along with my finger, to smell their soily home. Earthworms are no geniuses, maybe, but they do know what they want. Yet the thing is, what worms want is likewise what I want. Is it possible that man and worm can somehow hookup over some common need? Some life force?
It is possible. This:
soil rich in organic matter
One night about two weeks ago, there erupted an astonishing brouhaha in the vicinity of our fire ring. It was coyotes, a great gathering of them, maybe ten or so, the most I’d ever heard so close to the house. Our dogs, which usually go crazy when they hear coyotes on the mountain, went mute; after an initial rush to the door, they returned to the fire, flopped down, and didn’t move. Turning off the lights, I slipped out onto the deck. Continue reading
Once in mid-July when I was fourteen, I caught our neighbor Edna Cobal unannounced in the garden behind her home. I had ridden my bike to her house to deliver a check from my father, and as she didn’t appear when I knocked on the kitchen door, I went around to the back where I knew she kept a garden.
I didn’t see or hear anything initially, but then from somewhere off to one side I heard a rustling, dry-leaf sound, and following the sound off the porch and between a planting of lilacs, I discovered her—Mrs. Miller Cobal, an elderly woman, a grandmotherly woman, a woman who always wore a dress and who always remembered my name, a woman best known, at least in my circle, as the Mrs. Cobal who one day announced that she would never again attend church—I discovered Edna sprawled on her back in a great heap of dried pea vines. Having at some earlier time pulled them and heaped them high, she was now, for reasons impossible for me to fathom, lying in them. At the moment I startled her she was tucking a handful of vines under her chin like a scarf.
There was nothing either one of us could do except find each other, which we did with all of the accompanying embarrassment and ill-at-ease you might imagine. She got herself extricated and upright, her dress smoothed, I got the check into my hand and visible.
When finally she stood before me, small and with a slight smile, she reached out and, placing a hand on my shoulder, said, “I am sorry, Wilmer, that you had to find me this way. But sometimes there’s need to be with things. Even the end of things. Like the beautiful end of peas.”