I was a Botany major in college, and one semester I had an 8:00 am physics class and a 9:00 am Botany class. Once, in my 8:00 am Physics class, I noticed an inch worm on my leg. It was probably fall, and I was wearing jeans and hiking boots. I watched the inchworm inch up my leg until it got to my knee and then I got nervous and put it back down by my foot. This happened a couple times and I planned to keep track of it until class ended and I was able to take it back outside. And that was a good, environmentally friendly plan right up until we had a pop quiz at the end of class and I lost track of the inch worm. I looked around and felt more guilt than worry about the little guy who was destined to die of boredom and malnutrition in the physics hall. (Nothing against physics, I love physics, but inchworms probably have other interests.)
Alas, I headed all the way across campus to the Botany building and settled into Botany 101. In that class we sat around tables, about 8 people to a table. I told everyone the hilarious anecdote about the inchworm and then class started and I fell asleep. It was 9:00 am, as I said, and maybe that pop quiz really wore me out or something. Regardless, it was a light sleep, and I am sure I was still listening, and incredibly, I was probably still taking notes. Notes that I would find highly useless when it was time to study. What woke me? The slight padding of little inchworm feet on my ear. And how did I wake up? Frantically, with arms waving and hair tousling. Then I did what any normal, self respecting person would do; I pretended that nothing had happened. I glanced around, and no one was making eye contact so obviously no one saw. I took a deep breath and relaxed as much as I could, still not knowing exactly where I might see or feel an inchworm next. Then the person next to me leaned over and whispered in my ear, “It’s in the middle of the table.” Yup, there it was. I knocked the inchworm out of my hair and into the middle of the table and there it was still crawling around. That was one tough inchworm.
Now, that was a long time ago, but all the inchworm horror came back to me last night as I was preparing swiss chard to go into my frittata. I set the chard on the counter before I washed it, and when I picked it up there was an inchworm. I shuddered. Had I really once repeatedly picked up an inchworm and put it back down by my foot. Using, my own hands? Yuck. Who was I then, that 8:00 am morning? Some sort of wide-eyed environment-saving tree hugger? I was obviously someone who had never had an inchworm in her hair. An experience like that can change a person. But, ok, I still wanted to save the inchworm, especially after everything I put that first guy through. But there was no way I was touching it. So after I tore the leaves off the chard, I left some stalks on the counter next to the inchworm. And once it crawled onto a stalk, (no one knows better than I, how fast those things move) I took the stalk outside. Then I walked a couple steps towards the grass and tried to fling the inchworm off the stalk. What happened instead, is that the stalk broke in half, and I had the stump in my hand while the rest of the stalk with the inchworm went flying.
Then the dog picked up the stalk and ate it.