I have fond memories of digging for worms in Riverside Park with my sister Becky. We dug to find the worms and look at them wriggle. I loved watching how they dug themselves back into the dirt. I did not, as in many a childhood memoir, revel in cutting them up to see how many parts could survive. I just loved to dig in the soil, discover them, and set them free. My mother, probably knowing how much I liked to do this, put some worms in a large potted rubber plant she had in the house. That way, Becky and I could dig for worms in the comfort of our own home.
The building I live in in Washington Heights has lovely front gardens. I have noticed recently, that when it rains the earthworms rise up out of the soil and strand themselves on the cement walkway. I don't know why they do this but I can't stand to see them struggle and eventually die away from the moist soil. So, I rescue them. I pick them up and put them back in the garden where they belong.
Today when I was coming home from a Long adventure in the park with Clara I saw two lively worms in the path looking for a way home. I scooped up the first and deposited him in the dirt. Then I paused. What would Clara think? Before returning the second worm to the garden, I scooped him up and showed him to Clara. She was intrigued by this tiny, wriggling being. Finally, someone smaller than her. She reached out a tentative finger and touched him with a gentle 'hello.' I explained to her what I was doing and returned the little guy to his home.
I have succeeded in creating a second generation of worm excavator and protector.