Thursday, March 15, 2012

Inscrutable necessities

This morning's bike ride started shortly before the sun came into view over the hills between here and Purcellville. The calm dry air hardly moved. The dry pavement hinted at no overnight rain. A wonderful time to be pedaling.

And apparently the earthworms agreed with me: a great time to be on the road.

Thousands of earthworms had left their homes in the early morning hours and crawled onto the roads I often ride. Most of them were already desiccated* and had taken the twisted forms of commas, question marks and apostrophes - perhaps to punctuate my morning exercise. Others were still their squishy selves, crusted with road grit and struggling to get somewhere. A lucky few were flung from my tire onto various parts of the bike (and one onto me) for a somewhat quicker ride.

Okay, maybe they weren't really lucky, since each of these hitchhikers ended up dead, but let's face it: they were all going to die anyway.

Which makes me wonder: if they were going to die anyway, what the heck were they doing on a dry road in such numbers? I can imagine why a worm would come out of soggy rain-soaked dirt and find that a wet road is pretty comfortable. But what could possibly have driven so many worms out of the ground onto totally dry pavement.

Of course they didn't go to waste, except for the several still stuck to my bike and the one took off my shirt during breakfast. Crows have done a remarkable job of cleaning up the road.

*The Merriam-Webster online dictionary lists definition number 2 for desiccate as "to preserve (a food) by drying." I am thinking of the less culinary specific definition number 1, "to dry up."