Friday, August 06, 2004


Or, earthworms. I had high hopes when I began reading The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart. The book was about the secret life of earthworms and who doesn't like earthworms? I have fond recollections of "rescuing" worms from my Mom's garden when I was a kid. She'd turn on the hose and soak the garden bed until it flooded. The worms would crawl out to find only more water. I'd swoop in and fish them out and put them on a clod of dirt above the waterline or on the path next to the flowerbed. Or after a good rain that left the worms sprawled over the sidewalks, I'd scoop them up and gently put them back in the grass. I am delighted to find earthworms in my garden and worry when I dig that I might injure them. The book seemed perfect. I soon became annoyed with Stewart's continuous gushing enthusiasm. The information about worms is fascinating. For instance, there is a sewage treatment plant in Pacifica, California that is experimenting with natural water treatment--by combining the use of bacteria with other processes like heat and finally purposely designed wetlands and earthworms. The wetlands do the final water filtering and the worms get the sludge which is composed mainly of human waste. The worms eat the sludge, digest it, and turn it into vermicompost which is clean enough to use on farms fields as well as home gardens. Now this is really cool, and it was interesting reading about it. it's just everything in between that I could have done without. I should have know before I started reading what I was in for. A number of years ago I read Stewart's book From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden and was disappointed. But I didn't remember that until I had already committed myself to the worms. I was also greatly disturbed every time I happened to look at the back dust jacket flap where there is a color photo of Stewart. She looks eerily like a former supervisor of mine. Same curly hair. Same hair style. Same hair color. Same glasses. Same smile. Same body type. I liked my former supervisor, but it's a bit creepy to see and almost her on a book I'm reading. Would I suggest you read it? If you want some light reading about worms, go ahead. If you are hankering for a gardening related book and have nothing better to read, sure. But don't rush.