Sunday, January 1, 2012

Requiem for 997 Worms

I am not unlike everyone else.  Happy New Year.

That being said, let's keep looking forward and deal with it.

I am out 997 red worms.  I ordered 1,000 but only 3 managed to survive the transit.  Miracle worms, that's what they are.  I tracked this order, a guaranteed 2-day shipment, on a daily basis.  As time passed the estimated delivery date, my anxiety grew, especially since the computer screen did not register any updates from December 19, where the package was "in transit," and the estimated arrival date was December 22. No shipping details were given.  After the carrier left the worm farm on December 16, there was a huge blank page.

The computer screen did not register any updates or give details until Thursday, December 29.  Then I gathered the information that the carrier from the worm farm did not arrive at the first UPS station in York, PA until December 27.  Was there a disaster on the East Coast that held up the carrier from December 16 until December 27?  Did the red worms have to go through Limbo, row across a Styx River, undergo a Final Judgment, or a questioning process by a St. Peter Worm?  Once the 1,000 worms left their happy worm farm, went beyond a dead space and arrived at the first UPS station on December 27, they made swift progress across the country. UPS applied heroic measures, leaping from one city to another. On December 27, the worms left Middletown, PA at 10 PM; arrived in Philadelphia at midnight (now December 28).  At 6:30 PM the worms departed Philadelphia; arrived in Newark, NJ, at 8:46 PM; departed Newark at 11:22 PM.  The remaining weary travelers spent the night on the road.  On December 29 at 1:19 AM, they hit Louisville, KY.  At 1:58 PM they were on the road again; landed next in Oakland CA, at 3:61 PM. From thee it was easy sledding to Eureka. Their destination (Treecroft Farm in Bayside, CA) was just around the corner.  There was a significant difference between the estimated arrival, December 22, and the actual delivery, December 30. This does remind me of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying.

However, the awesome tracking steadfastly posted the most recent update of December 19 with only the information that the shipment was "in transit."  No changes in tracking on my computer screen happened until Thursday, December 29.  But the worms were already dying before they arrived at the first UPS station in York, PA.  Packed in dry peat moss, without food or water for 12 days, they were in Limbo from the 16th to the 27th.  The sad journey puttered across county with possibly hundreds of worm cadavers.  December 28, the box rushed from Louisville to Oakland, CA.  In the wee hours of the morning, the sack of worms left for Eureka, CA.  Ina few hours, they were hanging on a gate post in a plastic bag in my driveway, Friday, December 30.

Of course the worm bin was set up and waiting.  Moist bedding, including coir, compost and shredded newspaper hugged the bottom tray of the Worm Factory.

997 worms have not bounced back to life.  The heaven I had prepared for them was, in fact, a graveyard of red worms.

However, the good news is that three have definitely survived and are busy wriggling.  I hope they enjoy the coffee grounds and eggshells I buried in there.

I hope they reproduce.  If not, this is yet another organic farm fiasco.  High expectations, setting goals, hard work, commitment and then disappointment instead of the accomplishment that one looked forward to.

Life persists, enduring thirst, starvation, lack of oxygen, stress. How many of us would make it that far and then have to hang a while longer on a gate post, wrapped in a plastic bag?

But like my cousin Tony says, "They're home now."

In a sense, it is like Celan's "Death Fugue" for those who did not survive.  And Tchaikovsky's "William Tell Overture" for those who did.