There were no earthworms on the sidewalks this morning.
A few weeks ago, when spring’s showers began, I could have been forgiven for thinking that it was earthworms, not raindrops, that fell from the skies. The sidewalks, the two blocks from the light rail station to the blue skyscraper where I work, were as drowned in worms as they were in rain. The worms numbered in the hundreds, in length they ranged from one inch to five. They were stretched out, soaking in the early April rainfall, as though pulled taut by unseen strings. Other commuters may not have watched where they stepped. I tried to gingerly avoid them, no matter how soaked in rain my leather deck shoes became.
I saw the earthworms again on Monday, walking the sidewalk and climbing the hill to the office.
There had been no rain, not for days. The weekend had been hot, summery. There was no water, no moisture to draw out the earthworms from the ground and onto the concrete sidewalk.
Yet something did.
The worms had shriveled and died on the sidewalk, their bodies dessicated by the sun. By the hundreds, there were earthworm corpses, dried and baked between the hot concrete sidewalk and the sun’s killer rays. Some had curled in the sun, some had stretched out, perhaps to try and avoid the cruel fate.
I wondered what had drawn them out to their deaths.
I’ll never know.
It rained last night and this morning. The residue of dead earthworms was washed away.
Had anyone else had noticed? Not just that the earthworms were gone and dead, but that they had ever been there to begin with.
I suppose I will never know.