Worms and Rain

by Nic Olson

The worms come out in the rain.

An earthworm, measuring from my outstretched little finger to my outstretched thumb, at segments as thick as an expensive pen, was making its way to the gutter. A mammoth when it comes to minute beings. He and all of his miniature friends were exiling from their moist, mineral-filled, front lawn home, striving for the unknown of the asphalt. The likely outcome for them was to reach the gutter and get compressed by the weight of a parking car. The worst outcome for them was to be mutilated with sticks and sharp objects by the neighbourhood children. The best outcome was a gentle hand. However, death was nearly inevitable.

So I grabbed the largest miniature worm and he recoiled in instinctive terror. I held his squirming body, whispered comforting motherly words to him, and placed him back on the saturated lawn, two feet away. I did my best to solve his problems by bending down and contacting him directly, to avoid his foreseeable death by car tire.

I have been waiting over seven days, holding in the violent emotion that accompanies loss and more loss and further loss. Lifting boxes of vinyl and eating General Tao kept my mind off the facts, but when the dust settles and breaths are exhaled, my hockey team lost and my country lost greater. It is easy to alienate friends and casual readers by getting into hockey team systems and political ideologies and core beliefs, but saying nothing with the goal of not offending is akin to saying something that I disagree with. The fact that our country has fallen into four more years of leadership by a charmless snake with an ass for a hat, not only disheartens me, but frightens me. Democracy that tastes of fascism. Choosing for government selfishly, out of fear, or religious belief, or hope for affluence, is the same as stepping on the problems of others or encouraging these problems to continue to grow.

The spring of 1996, Scott Mellanby’s hockey stick killed a rat. The next game, he proceeded to score three goals with the same stick. During the playoffs, fans showered the ice with rats, dead and alive. Playing street hockey as a kid during the same playoffs, after a heavy spring rain dried out, hundreds of crispy earthworms stuck to the driveway. I was the neighbourhood worm man, scoring hat tricks and sweeping away the wormy problems of the world in my ignorant youth.

It is raining right now. Pretty hard. For the past three days straight. Apocalyptic symbol or just a low pressure system, either way, the worms come out in the rain. The worms of everyday problems are exposing themselves on the hard concrete of the sidewalks and we must be the people to bend down and solve them instead of tip-toeing around selfishly, or sweeping them away from the crease with our hockey sticks like unaware children.

The rain is constant and unyielding. The problems are thus the same. Selfishness will do nothing but kick the worms into the gutters when they need to be hand-placed back on the lawn. Earthworms will forever exist but it doesn’t mean we can pretend otherwise.