It rained a lot these past couple weeks, and I mean a lot. It rained every day. It rained so much that my dog was constipated. It rained enough that if I had been in Guatemala I would have been afraid of landslides.
Instead of rocks and mud running up my calves, my dogs and I saw beached worms on the asphalt. “Just a couple, manageable my heartstrings,” said. The wind blustered and Solo tugged without patience, but I paused and bent down. I tossed those round and well sized worms back onto the grass feeling good, in the soulful sense, at my deed.
Worms, at least the worms I know, are not native to Wisconsin. My dad told me that. They came over from Europe in root balls.
It didn’t rain much harder the next night. I hadn’t noticed thunder or a constant pat on the open eyelet windows in my bedroom. Gray blue light filled the sky and then my room. “Time for potty,” I announced, and down the stairs all eight paws thumped. Then my boots shuffled out the unlatched screen door.
We were met with carnage on the cracked pavement, but not at first. I paused and flung a few skinny worms feeling the fatigue in my hamstrings from my gym workout the day before. No big deal. The situation was manageable. Then we hit the section of road where the trees branched over the blacktop.
“That must be it. The trees,” I told myself. “They made things extra cool or something. Must be their shadows. Once we get past the trees. The worms will stop. I can save them until then.”
Solo tugged and Bagel sniffed. My back hurt from bending by the time I crossed the tree line. But the worms had been showered onto that country roadside. Solo was not to be bothered. Bagel noticed because I noticed. Time was ticking. I would be late for work wouldn’t I, if I saved them all? I wasn’t sure I could so that was what I told myself to rationalize my slowing pace. I grabbed one and it slipped through my fingers. I pinched its gooey body again and flung the worm to safety. Then a car passed and ran over all the rest still crawling and not knowing they were waiting for me.
I felt sick. What was I doing? What was I intending to do? “No, I can’t save them all,” I whispered to Bagel who had just ran her nose against one more worm. I began to triage. The big one, the one that is too far out. Not that skinny one. No that one is already split in half. That one can make it on its own, it’s close to the ditch.”
By the time I reached the corner, four more cars had passed. When we turned around to retrace our path, most of Solo’s steps plunked over worm bodies. I watched my heavy treads, but I gave up on everything else. I only had the energy to manage myself, not the situation. It was too vast.
“Why do they do this?” I whined at my dad when we pushed into the kitchen slathered in bacon scent.
But was I upset at them for a “stupid” choice, or me for “giving up”? I had done so many more “good” deeds than yesterday, but I felt worse.
The sky cleared slightly and dangled sunshine just out of my reach. No landslides, but the rain had managed to put me back in Guatemala swallowing the same hard questions after all. “Helping” dangled like a worm in front of me, just out of reach.