“Misty Night Worm Hunt”
25 September 1995
As I sat last night on my front porch watching, listening and feeling a light misty rain, I realized that my now dead father was really a reincarnated American Indian or if he was not a reincarnated Indian, he sure would have liked to have been one, for only when he was hunting or fishing or in the deep woods was he truly happy. And the misty night reminded me of all he tried to teach me about hunting and fishing and although I may be part reincarnated Indian, which would help explain why I wear only moccasins for shoes and no socks, I am also fragments of other souls and time and spaces and so I never took the pleasure my father did in hunting or fishing but some of what he taught, like reading a trail in the leaves or being able to walk in a forest and not make a sound and "to leave no tracks and nothing behind you", stuck with me and I have adopted his lessons to the life I live. And as I listened and felt the misty rain fall I was reminded of when I was 10 or so years of age and my father first taught me to hunt night crawler worms and although I will never teach this to my son, somehow I feel I must write it down, as perhaps one day, no one will hunt night crawlers or ever even know that once, people, Indians, did.
When I was 10 or so, on a misty night, my father first took my brother and I out into our yard all dressed in rain gear, a flashlight and lidded coffee can to learn how to hunt and capture night crawlers for it was important for him to not only catch, prepare and eat the fish he and we would catch in subsequent fishing trips but that he even catch the bait he would eventually use and so we began to move about the yard very slowly, so as not to make the earth tremble with our foot steps and scare the worms back down into their holes and as we moved slowly, we would scan the flashlight back and forth slowly until we caught a glimpse of a worm and them move the light away quickly so as to not scare the worm back into his hole although thinking about it now, I do not understand how worms with no eyes to see could sense our flashlights, but they could and often did on the first pass.
But if the flashlight did not make the worm move, we would off-center the flashlight enough so we could still see the worm and slowly lower our hand to suddenly grab the worm and if the worm was completely out of his hole, it was an easy pickup and into the coffee can he would go, but most worms were not completely out of their holes and once you had a piece of the worm, the trick was to slowly but gently pull the worm out of the hole without breaking it, which took some practice.
Often, at first, neither my brother or I were slow enough in our movements to not tremble the earth and scare back down the worms or if we did see a worm, quick enough to catch him, but eventually we got so we could catch 20 or 30 worms in about an hour and as we hunted, the light rain would fall on us in the otherwise quiet night and we would whisper among ourselves if we managed to catch a particularly big one or found a patch of ground loaded with worms.
And I wonder now what the neighbors thought as they saw three small lights move slowly around our yard. Aliens from another world? Ghosts? And to some extent we were aliens and Indian ghosts come to life and living on a city street.