Earthworms’ Castings

by Jean Ponzi


Plants, stuck in the ground as they are, have adapted their colors, shapes and functions to attract more mobile life forms who help them get around.

Recovering from surgery on one leg, I praise the adaptive moves and devices that help me navigate while I am planted at home for healing.

There’s plenty of equipment you can rent or buy to prop you up, wheel you along or help you access mundane stuff when you can’t move normally. My favorite is The Reacher, a long handled claw with a trigger grabbing action. My household has three of these handy gizmos. One was a gift from a recycling business friend, who knew I like to dumpster-dive.

For snagging dropped towels to dust bunnies, pulling underwear onto one stiff leg, or fetching that extra cushion – The Reacher is a simple yet powerful tool. So far the only thing I can’t retrieve is my driver’s license from a hardwood floor, but I can’ t drive right now so it’s OK down there.
Carrying things from place to place presents a constant challenge when you need the support of a walker or cane. I’m accustomed to schlepping multiple bags of working materials, computer equipment, groceries, extra clothes, books and purse – while always keeping one hand free to hold a cup of coffee. But Sherpa mode ain’t sustainable or safe as I’m trying to keep from keeling over.
The alternative? Relays! Moving a thing from place to place through intermediate resting spots. This works especially well in the kitchen, where pots, bowls, food and compost are all in motion for every meal. I place each item as far as I can comfortably reach and set it down until I take my next steps. If I think clearly, where and what order, I can usually Relay everything I need over one or two stops with some healthy stretches.

An essential adaptation – and the hardest one for me to adopt – is Accepting Help From Others. I am a Type A, fiercely independent DIMyselfer with a deeply ingrained control streak. My ancestral voice of inner guidance dictates help yourself, don’t overstay your welcome, and don’t put others out.
When loved ones, co-workers, family and friends all step in to do what I’ve had to surrender, my feelings well up and overflow. Letting others care for me and shoulder my responsibilities is humbling. And feels most wonderful. But I have to remind myself that receiving with grace and gratitude is as important a daily practice as giving with a generous heart. Let go and be of service, this way. Exhale. Inhale. And don’t be a hog!

The most important adaptation of all is, simply, Time. Plants dance in perfect step with Time. Seeds sown in May, in soil rich and warm, can produce tomatoes by the 4th of July. Everything blooms again, every spring. Rooted in the heart of our physical planet, plants live free of the manic rush that snares and fetters humankind. Time-wise, plants are way more hip than we are.
I’ve had to downshift my sense of Time, several times, to find my current rhythm of well-being, which subtly changes every day. I’m living for a brief, charmed interval in purely Biological Time, with my big brain and its projects subordinate to the quiet hum of cells and tissues steadily knitting, re-connecting each healing part to its partners. My hope – and my intention – is to adapt what I am learning now into my daily routines, when they rev back up to “normal.”

Spring will be beginning then, with plenty of plants to remind me what it means to live wholly, as a human in a body in this amazingly adapted world.

Jean Ponzi fills an hour with Green, conversationally, Mondays 7-8 p.m. when her talk show Earthworms takes the air on FM-88 KDHX – or listen online anytime at www.kdhx.org.

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