by Dr. David Fialk, Editor / Publisher
The world can be divided into two types of people; those who divide the world into two types of people and those who don't. You may think that such types of categorizations are merely word games, but one of the most influential philosophers of the last century, Ludwig Wittgenstein, believed such sets and language studies revealed the nature of reality, of human reality, at least.
The two types of people I have in mind are on display here in San Miguel. There are those who are holding on to what they have, working their program, being whom they have become. And there are those who are still casting about, cobbling together, reinventing themselves, to put it nicely.
The older I get (65 in two weeks) the more time seems absurd, like a cruel illusion. Some ancient Assyrian wrote a poem, preserved on a clay tablet under the sand for millennia, that pictured time as a personal quantity growing smaller each month, each day, each hour, until in one moment, for us, it runs out.
I don't think my typology has much to do with time or stage of life. Being "older and wiser," I strongly suspect, has little to do with being older. I believe that the settled people were, more or less, always stable, and that the folks hungry for new experiences were always searching. Nor am I making a judgement. I think there is a bit of heaven and hell in each camp. Wandering about on my hungry adventures, I sometimes look with longing at my settled neighbors.
The other day perusing Civil List, I came upon a post from someone looking for earthworms to add to their garden. Someone had already replied that there was a vendor, a man in the Saturday Market who sold earthworm kits.
Now, I look askance at comfortably retired extranjeros, who come down to San Miguel and start businesses. When I heard recently of a woman who started a non-profit that taught English for free, I immediately thought of the local teachers who are charging for English classes.
I admit to knowing very little about the economy, local or otherwise. And maybe these people are contributing more than they are taking, creating jobs, etc. But me, I'm in the other camp, still working for a living. Still, even in my little sphere of culturally promoting San Miguel I just heard that there is now a third wealthy - this last, uber-wealthy - man who is starting an event calendar here in San Miguel; none of which event calendars are as good as mine. I think these people are looking for friends. It's that or that when you already have 180 million dollars, it seems you want 180 million and five dollars.
Whatever the case may be, after writing, stating my reluctance to interfere with the local economy (the worm man hasn't been in the Saturday Market in weeks) I offered to supply the gardener with some worms. In the last few days, I've heard from her and two or three other folks, who all want some red wrigglers. That's fine with me. I have a lot and, happy with their living conditions, that lot is always making more.
I write this as required reading to those who are adopting some of my herd, so that those little darling will continue to live happily in their new homes.
First of all, I don't put my worms in my garden. I keep them in a set of five-gallon pails, now four of them. I feed them on kitchen scraps, which whey render into soil. Eventually I separate them from this new, beautiful soil, and put this soil, sans worms, into my garden.
I guess you could put the worms themselves into the garden, but that would diminish the soil-making capacity of the system, and the happiness of the worms. That happiness being assured by the fact that every week or so I extract the top 15% of the proto-soil from each of my now four pails, put the kitchen scraps I've been saving for that last week or so where the now extracted 15% of proto-soil was and then top off those kitchen scraps, preventing flies, with a thick cap of the formerly extracted proto-soil.
There are a few more tips I will convey to those who come for my worms: drill holes in the bottom of the bucket to keep things aerated; don't try to compost meat of any kind, nor eggshells (grind those up and add them directly to the garden), nor citrus, nor oily left-overs from your plate; keep your pails out of the sun. Then there is my patented, lazy-man's way of separating the worms from the soil, which like the worms I will freely share.
The whole procedure really is a lazy-man's process. I am a gentleman worm-farmer. And, I suppose that you could also divide the world into those who are and those who aren't gentleman worm farmers. I further suppose that this worm-farmer division might closely follow the settled-searching dichotomy I posited at the start of this article.
Earthworms, to my way of reckoning, are not something for the stable and settled. Like snakes, they live underground. They appear like alien life-forms, something out of a work of science-fiction. (Dune, no?) Those red wrigglers are below the surface, are intensely subterranean, away from our daylight existences.
They may be essential for what is on our dinner table, but you cannot talk about them around the dinner table, not in polite society, anyway. Perhaps this stems from their association with death and decay, with time running out, as the Assyrian poet reminds us; quite the opposite of settled and stable. (See my friend Felix's recent article on Green Burials.)
Then, put more positively, the decomposition and recycling that earthworms accomplish is the perfect symbol for those of us, who are still casting about, cobbling together, reinventing ourselves. Out with the old; in with the new. Those "alien" red wrigglers transform that "good for nothing" "waste" into new, fertile soil, giving us healthier new growth and sweeter tomatoes.
As my father used to say: "What a boring world it would be if we all thought the same."
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