Rescue Worms

By James Wallace Harris, Friday, September 18, 2015

When you see a worm wiggling in the street do you pick it up and put it back in a flowerbed? Do you save rescue worms?


I’ve done this for years and thought I was the only person who’d be silly enough to save a worm, but recently I’ve discovered that many of my friends are also heroes to earthworms. I was walking with my neighbor Ernie this year and we spotted a worm struggling out in the street and I told him I always rescue them. He said he did the same thing. Then I was walking with my friend Leigh Anne and we found a stranded worm out on the hot pavement and she picked it up and put it in the grass. She also said she routinely rescued worms. She even picked up our squirmy friend with her bare hands, which impressed me because in recent years I’ve become germophobic and won’t touch them.  I always rescue my worms with a twig or leaf. I don’t know why I’ve gotten prissy about touching worms. When I was a kid I used to go through the cow patties with my bare hands to find worms for fishing. And as a teen me and my friends used to hunt for magic mushrooms out in cow pastures and we’d just brush them off before eating them. I told my friend Annie about this, and she said she also rescues worms, and picks them up with her bare hands.

Does everyone give a dying worm a helping hand?

By the way, have you ever wondered why the worm crosses the road? It’s pretty obvious, but I didn’t know the answer until I saw why one morning. Stupid birds will drop their breakfast and won’t remember to pick it up. A car will go by, or a dog, or even another bird, and they’ll drop their meal. I’ve been paying attention to birds with worms on my morning walks, and sometimes a bird will just forget they had a nice juicy worm to eat, leaving their poor victim out to die a horrible death—wiggling until it dries up.

This morning I saw a woman rescue a worm and walk into someone’s yard to put it in a flower bed. She saw me and looked embarrassed. I just gave her a friendly wave. Usually I just put street worms back in the grass. I do wonder if I’ve ever pissed off a worm that was actually trying to cross the road.


7 thoughts on “Rescue Worms”

  1. What a lovely essay. It made me smile. I am always sad when I don’t get there quick enough after a rain to do worm rescue. I like you calling us heroes to worms.

    1. I figured you and Bob would be worm rescuers. We can all be gods to small creatures. Funny, we don’t feel such compassion for cockroaches. I always feel bad about smashing them, but I do apologize to their little souls afterwards. I give them a sea burial via the toilet, and always say words over them. But not compassion to let them live.

      By the way, I also rescue crickets in the house. And wasps. But anything that looks like a roach I’m after like a cat after a mouse. I killed one last night who ran from me and tried to duck into this basket of protein bars. He thought he was hid, but his little butt was sticking up in the air. I thought that was cute, but I mashed him anyway.

  2. I too am part of the worm rescue squad but many times it is flooding that bring them out onto driveways etc. of course their casting are garden gold

  3. Worms, toads, lizards, assorted bugs, basically anyone who’s gotten themselves into a pickle. I’m no Jain, but once you’re old enough to understand how precarious life is and how intertwined we are, why would you not? Okay, I do draw the line at cockroaches. And wasps. And Republicans of course. And Democrats… hey, I never said I was NICE.

  4. I can’t remember the name of the Larry Niven short story where a space pilot is in a park and sees a little boy find a caterpillar in the grass. The boy looks both ways and figures which tree the caterpillar is aimed at and takes him there. The pilot collapses to the ground overcome with emotion upon seeing this.

    This might be a Known Space story but has other elements. After composing himself, the pilot tells someone that he was stuck and helpless in deep space between the stars, just waiting to die. Then along comes a biped alien (or is it a weird ship?) running between the stars. It notices the derelict ship and pulls along side. It peers in and examines the ship and all aboard. Finally, after a very long time it picks up the ship and takes it right to its intended destination.

    So that is what all you worm saviours reminded me of. I’ve never even noticed a worm on the pavement or sidewalk or road. Perhaps I’m just unobservant. I just remember seeing them in the grass when it rained because their homes were temporarily flooded.

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