Hallelujah, it’s raining . . . . . earthworms??????

Growing up in the desert, there were a number of idioms that I never understood.  I knew they conveyed a concept, and were likely true somewhere, but they just flat didn’t apply to our corner of the world.  One such idiom was ‘April Showers Bring May Flowers’ – really?  May was obviously already too hot for anything to survive, and even if we did get rain in April, it just meant more weeds.  While I’ll have to wait until next month to testify to the flowers, I can certainly attest about April showers.  They exist and they are torrential.

One morning, after a fairly standard 4″ the previous evening, I was walking from my car into the office.  As I moved from the pavement to the sidewalk (another shocking thing Tucson peeps, they totally GET drainage here.  Water runs off somewhere that isn’t the middle of campus), I saw with disappointment that someone had strewn the freshly spread mulch (more on mulch later) all over the sidewalk.  “How careless!” I thought.  Students wait for the bus in the area I was passing, and I had no trouble believing they had recklessly besmirched the landscaping.

However, as I got closer, near to stepping on the sidewalk, I realized the mulch was . . . . . moving.  The short scream that left my lips was at a pitch that only dolphins heard it.  The mulch wasn’t mulch at all, but squirming, slimy EARTHWORMS!! My inner Buddhist emerged with a vengeance, and I suddenly engaged in the childhood mantra ‘Don’t step on a crack,’ with my new substitution of ‘Don’t step on the EARTHWORMS.’  I imagined I looked rather silly, tottering into the office on tiptoes, like I was walking on hot coals.

This was in the afternoon, after many had either slithered away or fed some lucky birds.

This was in the afternoon, after many had either slithered away or fed some lucky birds.

I made it to my office, where I promptly picked up the phone and called the woman who had been co-chair of my hiring committee and hissed into the phone, “You. Never. Mentioned. The. Earthworms.”  She laughed, “Oh, that happens if we get a lot of rain in April.”  I’m investigating if that constitutes breach of contract in some way.  It must.

The horror doesn’t end there.  Stepping on the multitude of creatures was inevitable, and the next day, which amazingly didn’t rain, left a mosaic on the ground of squashed, baking earthworm bodies.  While those in my picture are somewhat small and innocuous, that was not always the case, and the animals have the uncanny ability of finding the environment in which they provide the most contrast, making them impossible to miss.  Walking across campus, I will admit to more than one gag at the carnage left behind.   So while I now know April Showers, I will likely shudder with revulsion at the thought hereafter.

So mulch.  Get this, peeps.  Every spring, round about April or so, they put dirt on . . . DIRT.  Somehow, last year’s dirt is inadequate, and more must be added.  I will admit that there is an aesthetic aspect that I find lovely, but, it’s dirt.  Well, I guess it’s not just dirt.  There’s some other stuff in it too, but it’s not like they’re tilling it into the ground or using it as compost.  One of the funnest things about it though is that depending on what’s in it, and where it is in it’s coagulation, it can catch fire!  I still laugh thinking about last year when Alejandro and David were visiting and there was a story about a mulch fire in Charlotte and David, straight faced as could be said, “Oh, so the dirt burns here.  Interesting.”

Signing off from the wetlands.  Stay dry my friends.

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