Sunday, February 26, 2012


Yesterday I led an Urban Land Scouts workshop at Three Rivers Market in which we made vermicompost bins for home use. They're simple and affordable to set up -- two important criteria for me as I continue to develop the ULS curriculum.

In preparing for the workshop I was reminded of the amazing qualities of worms: they consume food equivalent or greater to their body weight every day, they have five hearts, they breathe through their skin, and on. Learning about the specifics of their lives and bodies heightens my sense of reverence for them. I also love that they eat my garbage. "Worms Eat My Garbage" by Mary Appelhof is the seminal introductory literature for those wanting to get started with vermicomposting. Appelhof's enthusiasm, meticulous experimenting, and semi-evangelical work promoting worm composting is a testament to the power of teaching.

In my beginning Tai Chi classes we begin the session with a bow to honor our teachers. I have many teachers for whom I am grateful. I think of some of them when I bow. Mary Appelhof died in 2005, but her legacy lives on in the literature she published and the people she taught. This is a good reminder for me as a struggle with my own trajectory and orientation in the day-to-day: what will you leave behind? When worms and associated microorganisms are breaking down my body, what essence or spirit of mine will carry on? Is it important to me that it carry my name? I do not often take this long view in my daily labor (making breakfast, writing proposals, drilling holes in worm bins), but it is comforting to me now.