Earthworm consciousness


This morning, with my overall's getting longer and longer as I worked, I reclaimed the bed where the peas had been growing. I pulled the diseased vines and placed them carefully in a heavy plastic bag. I don't really know what was wrong with the peas; it could have been mosaic or maybe, as my sage farmer friend Greg Swartz put it in a recent email "Peas don't like having wet feet for extended periods of time, aka this season!")

Rolling back the newspaper and hay that I had mulched the peas with (yep, the same newspaper/mulch combo that could have contributed to the right conditions for those wet feet) I uncovered a couple of earthworm. I noted how the soil was fluffed all around.

I always feel rich when I uncover earthworms in the garden. Efficient filters of soil, I celebrate them whenever I come across them. Sometimes I move them from one bed to another, and once moved canfuls from one compost heap to another. They had fled from me then. I have wondered whether they understand I'm after them. I try to tell myself that they are just sensing the light and retreating and not that they are sensing danger and acting according.

From there I wonder if there is any real difference between retreating from the light or reacting because you feel threatened. Aren't they both some form of consciousness?

I asked Nathaniel Whitmore, of the Upper Delaware Mushroom Society, when we were out on an impromptu mushroom foray in Honesdale's Cliff Street Park last week, whether he thought earthworms had consciousness and he related how he never liked to put worms on fishing hooks because they always resisted. Made sense to him, he said.

From there, I wonder if the world is fundamentally changed by actually allowing, by empirical knowledge, that earthworms are a part of the web of consciousness?

It's a curious and quirky thought that makes me joyful.

The real estate is reclaimed, the garden in renewed.

Now you see them ...

bed reclaimed.jpg
Now you don't.