26 June 2011


As I walked out to Walden yesterday morn, I barely missed stepping on a significantly large blood-worm crossing on the walkway. I think it was no less that four-six inches in length and actually seemed to me quite animated for a worm. It twisted its rear end into some curlicue, and pushed its front end advancing, sometimes moving forward but at times only reconfiguring. I suspect that it is called a blood worm because the enlarged girth below its front end seems engorged with blood—or at least its upper section approaches the color of blood. I watched for some time as the worm writhed and wriggled its way to wherever it might have been moving. I cannot attribute causation to the worm, alas, and so I will not say “where it was headed,” though it is humanly difficult to accept movement without purpose or direction. I marveled at the contortions the worm made in its progress. First, its rear twisted into a squiggle, and then its front end straightened out the question mark its rear had formed. I could discern no motive for its motions. I stood on the path and observed the worm, and then entered the cabin to move on to my own wrigglings and writhings. Maybe in here I would have purpose. But for a moment I turned back and watched through the glass and waited expectantly for a bird to alight and pick the worm up in its beak and carry it off to feed its younglings. But none arrived.
Several hours later I remembered the worm and went again to the glass to check on its fate. I noted that its rear end (I think it was its rear, but what do I know?) had reached the end of the path and the entire front of the worm had fallen into the grass.  I wondered if it were safer here and out of obvious sight, but of course, I knew that its predators knew exactly how to see its prey despite the camouflage.
I did not see the worm today. Perhaps it was discovered.
And yesterday as I sat out here in Walden, a movement on the computer screen disclosed behind me and outside the window a doe crossing the backyard. Not ten feet behind it was its fawn. prancing behind its parent like many a child following close but sovereign. The spotted fawn was small and delicate, and I was cheered to watch it following its mother. But then something startled the pair—it might have been my presence—and the doe ran west into the brush and the fawn scurried east into the woods. I wondered if the two would find each other again. I was saddened at the even and despaired that I was responsible for the separation. Today as I sat out here in Walden a doe passed my cabin window but was not followed by a fawn. I had no way to know if it was the same doe searching for its lost fawn.
Emerson notwithstanding, Nature is a mystery to me and offers no lessons. And the mystery today doesn’t comfort me.


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