In December, I took a couple of classes through the Extension Agent’s office. If you live in Duval County, Florida, you’ll find a list of these classes in their New Leaf Newsletter at http://duval.ifas.ufl.edu/lg_new_leaf_news.shtml and you can sign up for an email reminder for the Newsletter at http://duval.ifas.ufl.edu/.
The first class was on canning jam and jelly. We formed four groups, each with a different jam or jelly recipe. At the end of the class, the groups swapped jars so that we each went home with 4 little jars of jam.
I debated long and hard about the Winter Gardening & Vermicomposting class because I have no desire to be on a first name basis with worms. An email poll among my friends strongly encouraged taking the class so I plunked down my $5 for the Winter Gardening class but not the $10 for a worm bin. The Winter Gardening portion went well and then the worm lady took the floor.
She started off telling us about worm species — epigeic, endogeic and anecic — like I really wanted to know that much about worms. Vermicomposter folks don’t mess around with just any old worms. Only a special kind of red wiggler known as Eisenia foetida will do. Three minutes into her spiel, she admitted having a number of worm bins in her office. My imagination went berserk. I visualized all these bins stacked to the ceiling in her office, possibly in the same building as our classroom, and I almost bolted for the door. Rather than make a spectacle of myself, I hunkered a little lower in my chair and clamped a hand over my quivering lips to prevent the heebie jeebies from escaping my lips as a primal scream.
I started to shake when she pointed to a medium sized plastic box apparently containing enough worms to give the $10 worm bin students a cup of worms. Looking around the room, I estimated that 50 to 75 people were in attendance. Realizing I was in the same room with 50 to 75 cups of worms started a fresh round of jittering in my chair. Slowly, my head swiveled around the room looking for the exits in case we had an Alfred Hitchcock moment involving worms.
I’ll admit that a sick curiosity caused me to hang around to see what kind of people lined up for a worm bin. Remarkably, they were very ordinary-looking people and I was flooded with a fresh revelation – my very own neighbors could be secretly harboring worm bins under the kitchen sink. This caused the muscles around my lips to start twitching and, fearful that the scream was finally going to cut loose, I edged towards the exit. Before I could get there, the worm lady popped the lid on her giant plastic box of worms and my terror was complete. I turned and fled as though my shoelaces were on fire. I don’t see myself vermicomposting any time soon but I refuse to punish myself for being a gutless wonder when I have friends who won’t even do dirt.