I always wondered about the story of the little dutch boy putting his finger in the dike. Was it really heroics, or just a small boy’s fascination with hydraulics? I remember building endless little dams in roadside rivulets, something about a child’s fascination with controlling nature, I guess. Did the little boy pull his finger in and out of the dike, to see what would happen? I’d bet on it!
But we should get back to the heroic worms. The worms that saved many of my rare books. Did they know what they were doing? Probably no more than the little Dutch boy. But is heroism to be found in thought, or in deed?
My office is located in a basement apartment in the bottom of our house. It has cement floors, so when I get huge amounts of books down there (pretty much all the time), floors won’t collapse. It does have the defect, however, of occasionally being subjected to flooding. I’m usually careful during heavy rains to keep stuff piled up on pallets and desks and any other raised object. But during dry spells I tend to get lax, and books are piled here, there, and everywhere. The weather forecast was clear last night, so I didn’t take any precautions, and left things in their usual seeming chaos (only seeming, I know where everything is!)
Okay, now a brief word about earthworms. I’m sure you’re all familiar with them coming out onto road and driveways during the rain. My children and I rescue them all the time waiting for the bus in the morning, tossing them onto the safety of our lawn. Doing a little research, I find it’s because the dampness allows worms to travel, they can’t let their skins dry out.
Now to the heroic actions of the worms last night. There are three steps leading down to the basement door, with a drain at the bottom that sometimes can’t keep pace with really heavy rains. Water will then flow in under the door (this being an old house, nothing is quite square or air-tight). Last night water started building up outside the door, ready to flow in and ruin many books I’d carelessly left lying around.
When I got up, I realized there had been a heavy rain last night, and fearfully went into my office. Everything seemed okay, so I went to the back door and looked out. A little pond of water greeted me at the bottom of my steps, but nothing was coming in like usual. Gathering towels and mop, I cautiously opened the door. Lined up in a solid line on the door jamb was a phalanx of worms, which immediately began to disperse. There bodies had acted as a plug all night holding back the water.
I’d like to think some of them were ones I’d saved and tossed back on the lawn. I think we have an unspoken agreement, now.