Sound of the Worm
My daughter in middle school had to answer question number 3, "Name eight ways in which humans depend on animals or humans and animals interact." She didn't quite understand the question or how to start. She was frustrated and talked it out with my wife for quite some time. Then she ripped off this feisty little essay, which I share here with her permission:
Humans depend enormously on earthworms, we depend on than for hundreds of things but most people are still unaware that they depend on earthworms at all.
- For millennia people have depended on worms to process the soil and leave it aerated so that agriculture can provide the food we need.
- We depend on worms to eat and recycle all of our waste, without worms the world would be overflowing with trash, but even so we are over working our worms and they can not keep up with our waste output. Most people take the eventual disappearance of trash as a given when in reality it takes generations of labor from earthworms to get rid of a mere trash can sized load of garbage.
- Without air we could not survive. Most people know that air comes from plants, mainly trees, but not many people know that trees and other plants depend on worms, to leave the soil loose and nutrient filled, just as much as we depend on trees and plants.
- The shelter that many people in the world go home to every night is a mere product of worms. Almost all houses have at least some wood in their structure, without wood, building would have come into existence until much later and perhaps not at all. Worms let tree’s roots find a place in the soil to absorb nutrients so they can grow strong and tall and be able to build parts of houses, schools, ballet barres, some beds, and even book cases.
- Literature, where would it be without paper? Without paper, literature would be nowhere, without worms there would not be paper. Even the papyrus that the ancient Egyptians used for paper could not survive without the help of worms. Without anything to write on, knowledge would make very little progress, the great wonders of history would be completely unknown and science would still be trying to discover whether or not the world was flat.
- We depend on cows for many things in our lives -- leather, cheese, milk, and meat -- to name a few. Cows eat grass as all musicians know (the mnemonic used for memorizing the bass clef is All Cows Eat Grass) and grass survives purely because of the endless labor that worms contribute to help society.
- Many people spend some of their most pleasurable hours working in their garden or sitting on a boat with good friends, children or parents, fishing. Gardeners need worms to fertilize the soil that they can plant flowers and vegetables and help them grow. Fishers need to use worms as bait, a completely thankless task that has taken the lives of many poor worms.
- Romance is a wonderful thing, but what would it be without roses? Without roses, how would Shakespeare’s famous line be remembered? A rock by any other name is still a rock? Without roses, what is poetry? Rosebushes thrive because of the help they receive from worms, but without worms, there would be no roses. Without worms, where could beauty be?
Next time you sit down to eat, watch a dance performance, put on a pair of leather shoes, start reading a book, or you simply take a breath of air, think of how much you owe the earthworms, because you would not be able to do any of those things, if not for them.
I was impressed. But them I'm her dad. Is she a chip off the old block or what? Last year she obsessed over Expo Markers.
2/2/2006 12:22 AM