Transition and Transformation

Every writer should have a worm colony to eat her spent words. Especially if she’s grieving the loss of her beloved dog.

His name was Marley. We named him after the great Bob Marley. This was before "Marley and Me."

His name was Marley. We named him after the great Bob Marley. (This was before “Marley and Me.”)

I feed my drafts to the shredder when they’ve served their purpose. The shredder cross-cuts everything into bits the width of a highlighter’s stroke, the length of the tiniest paperclip. When the receptacle is full, I shower this ticker tape parade over one of four worm farms I’ve got going right now.

Worm pit after ticker tape parade

Worm pit after ticker tape parade, with rainwater.

Are they actually eating my words or are they just nesting there, my happy, scrappy red wigglers, snug in moist paper and a bit of soil and leaves? With rotting vegetable parings for their buffet.

I wrote once long ago, or stole the idea, of everything in a writer’s life becoming compost. “It’s all material,” an early writing teacher told me. Now even my stilted phrases and test drafts and failed pieces have become compost.

I’m feeding the worms that in turn offer their pooped-out product to nourish my soil—soil in which we grow the food that feeds the writer who makes the words that shelter the worms. A closed loop.

Also in the worm bins? Junk mail, that clutters my desk until I go on a shredding rampage. Cardboard toilet paper rolls chopped into bits. Tea leaves from my tea ball. Shed leaves from houseplants. Newspapers. Anything else I can think of: Q tips, napkins, toothpicks, and other rarely used ephemera.

Also: Mats cut from the cat’s britches, tangled there over weeks of neglect while I worried over her brother, the dog. Tissues loaded with my snot and tears, from meltdowns over that same dog’s decline.

Moistened with rainwater, it all melts together into the special kind of slop that worms (I’m told) adore—sweetened with handfuls of veggie scraps and stale crackers and the like.

Worms at work

Worms at work

The dog died; the worms and time work together to turn something lost into something gained.

Sweet dreams, friend.

Sweet dreams, friend.

8 thoughts on “Transition and Transformation

  1. I’m so sorry you lost Marley. I understand the pain of losing a part of your soul–I’ve lost many pets/friends/mentors/angels over the years. There is no way to turn off the grief; moving through is the best we can do. But there is some comfort in knowing how rich you made Marley’s life and the love you surrounded him with as he passed through into his next journey. That’s all any of us can ask for–someone to love us through.
    Sending a virtual hug and a shoulder…

  2. First I’d like to commend you on this well-written post. Nicely done! Secondly, my condolences on losing your faithful friend. It’s amazing how they fill your life. And finally, a question; are your worm bins overwintered outside? (I wonder, because I’ve been tempted to come up with something to allow me to keep mine outside over winter in the Midwest.)

  3. Pingback: Adventures in Worm Composting | Shawndra Miller

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