Sarah Simpson

Sarah Simpson Column: Is it spring already? The worms think so

Worms and the birds and the bees

Depending on who you ask, spring has sprung.

My children debated hard the other day about whether it is spring or not. One is of the opinion that no, it’s totally not spring because the official first day of spring has not happened yet. The other believes that the spring weather is here and therefore it is spring and the groundhog must have been wrong. They really got into it. So much so that we had to distract them and change the topic before things got out of hand.

Regardless of anything official, the weather does seem to have turned a corner here in the Cowichan Valley, and while we all know full well that spring does not signal the end of rain — we do live on the West Coast after all — it’s been rather delightful to see the snowdrops and crocuses begin to pop up and the grass begin to green up and grow.

After school the other day, I was standing with a couple of other moms watching our kids run around playing — shaking out the legs they worked so hard to keep still while learning all day — when it began to pour rain. We continued to let the kids play in the rain because, in my opinion anyway, a soggy played-out kid is preferable to a dry kid with a ton of energy once they come indoors.

Back to the rain though. The rain smelled like spring. One of those quick cleansing types of downpours you don’t necessarily mind being caught out in.

The thing with heavy spring rains, however, are they tend to force all the worms out of their subterranean hidey-holes and up to the surface with the rest of us.

On a walk to school the other day, my daughter asked why the worms always appeared after the rain and my husband theorized that the ground absorbs the moisture and the worms would probably run out of oxygen if they stayed down below in the saturated soil.

(This of course gave her even more cause than she usually has to rescue all of the worms that ended up in puddles above ground. She’s always had a soft spot for worms. Do you remember back in 2020, one weekend early in the pandemic’s initial “stay home” phase, when my family opted to drive the Pacific Marine Circle Route out to Botanical Beach only to find it was closed? It was there my daughter found a worm in a puddle and was quite distraught that the poor creature would drown. Her superhero dad saved the day and moved the worm she’d dubbed ‘Slither’ to a grassy area. Slither later mailed her a thank you letter, which to this day is one of her prized possessions.”)

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Wow, that was a tangent. Back to spring. In defence of the “it is totally spring right now” argument, worms hibernate, so if they’re out again, it’s because things are warming up. What’s more, it seems they’ve got Spring Fever, too.

Again, walking to school the other day (it’s a relatively short walk but it’s always an eventful one), we passed by what looked to be a section of raw meat or fish.

“What’s that?” I marvelled at the beige fleshy chunk of something up ahead in the grass.

As we drew closer, I noticed it was a worm.

My husband noticed it was actually two worms. Copulating.

He looked at me with a how do we explain that to the kids? type of look and I scrambled to say that it was two worms making babies and my brief but not inaccurate answer seemed to satisfy them. We left it at that until the next rainy day when we were walking home from school one afternoon and my youngest piped up to say “Hey Mom! There’s two more worms marrying!”

Now, my family has had all sorts of talks about what makes a family and how there are many different types of families and all of that, and I could have re-explained that you don’t need to be married to have babies… or more specifically that worms don’t actually ever get married… (where would they find their tiny fancy dress clothes anyway?) but I didn’t. Not because I’m opposed to having real-life conversations with my kids about big topics — no doubt the day will come when we really sit down and talk about the birds and the bees — but more so because I like to think that from now on, every time my six-year-old sees two intertwined worms, she’ll be filled with the joy of knowing there’s a tiny little wedding going on down there in the lawn.

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ColumnistComedy and Humour