worms welcome in watson lake

Dear Uma: Busy place these days, this Watson Lake. It seems one could occupy oneself almost every night of the week and every weekend, were one so…

Dear Uma:

Busy place these days, this Watson Lake. It seems one could occupy oneself almost every night of the week and every weekend, were one so inclined.

There was the premier’s dinner where people asked questions of our leader and he responded with a great deal of nouns and verbs but no actual answers — much like our prime minister.

Is there a workshop politicians take in order to learn to do this? It wouldn’t take more than an hour to learn, as it is not in the least clever, just blatantly disrespectful.

The sum up of this gathering, like most of its ilk, could be: “Much work remains to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any tangible progress on anything.”

Then there was the Halloween bonfire and fireworks. This was my first time at this event; finally, at last, I have seen more than 40 Lakers all at once. Many times I have wondered at the population figure accredited to Watson Lake and surrounding area but on the eve of goblins and ghosts I think I saw all 800 people.

It was an enormous gathering, harmonious and fun, with the Signpost Seniors handing out hot chocolate and hot dogs while the oohing and aahing over the fireworks was heard in the land.

There was live music for the Halloween dance at the recplex, a feature which, it is said, contributed hugely to the success of this endeavour. I did not attend, but I have heard nothing but good news about this event — lots of great costumes and a genial atmosphere. Nice mood to have around as we head into another Yukon winter.

For a place with four churches that I know of, Watson Lake seems inordinately fond of Halloween.

The band, Steel Wheels, came from Iskut, a place in BC maybe a quarter the size, or less, of Watson Lake. How come Iskut can produce a band and Watson Lake has only a lone fiddler? It is one of the many conundrums of the North.

Thank you for your applause on my efforts to green the Earth. I can’t believe I am going to do something in this direction you have not already done. Rarely do I get to assume the role of trailblazer with you, my ultra-hip friend; it has strengthened my resolve to go ahead with the project and believe me, it needed strengthening.

The ick factor is incredibly high for me on this one. Now, your fulsome praise has committed me to a path, though fraught with anxiety and apprehension, mixed with loathing and disgust, is clearly the one of righteousness.

It all began with one of those late-night, catching-up-with-everyone-we-know telephone talks with an old friend. At some point, we began exchanging stories of our personal growth, especially those involving lifestyle changes in recognition of the need to get environmentally conscious. He told me his friend, Mary Appelhof, had won an award from the National Recycling Coalition — she was Composter of the Year. Other topics intervened before he could tell me exactly what she’d done to earn her prize, or what form it took, but a few days later I Googled her.

My composting days have ended with winter, leaving me to deal with what seems like a shameful amount of garbage for the weekly collection, even with fervent and assiduous use of the recycle centre.

I was curious to see if there was another way of dealing with all this veggie matter. Here garbage is still being burned (can you believe that!?) and it seemed wrong to consign compostable stuff to this disgraceful bonfire.

It seems Mary won her coveted award for her definitive book on the how-to of vermiculture.

I have a horror of legless things that writhe; I don’t even like the word “writhe,” or “squirm,” or “wriggle.” Typing them causes my stomach to behave in a manner those very words describe.

Years ago, coming across Aristotle’s description of worms as “the intestines of the earth” created the same queasy-making sensations and led to the suspension of any interest in philosophy. Such is the power of words.

Now I am an adult, with an earnest desire to do my share as a good citizen of the planet, so I soldiered on, learning the “red wrigglers” eat their weight in a single day, and breed prolifically, at which point the imagery overcame me and I shut down the computer for the evening, thinking of drinking my weight in tequila before attempting to read more.

In the following days I scoured the web for another way to be green that would be great enough to excuse me from living with worms.

The expense was going to be a good excuse (more than $200 to do it the ready-made way) but then came a detailed e-mail from another farmer on how to do it for less, using hardware store stuff. Sadly, the local hardware store has everything I need to create an appropriate and welcoming place for the little beasts.

It’s incredible — there are countless everyday items not available in Watson Lake, but there is all one could wish for to start a worm farm.

No live music, but should one want to live with the tiny slurping sound of Eisenia foetida eating one’s food waste and by some earthy process I don’t want to know turning it into compost, Home Hardware in Watson Lake is your one-stop shop.

Having cleared a place under the kitchen sink, and purchased a plastic bin to house my new roomies, I am busy with the furnishing of their accommodations.

In order for the aforementioned prolific breeding to occur they require bedding; otherwise their needs are modest and their output in the way of making compost exceptional.

Pete and I intend to till the soil next summer, hence the acquisition of the large green object beside the door into which we have been dumping our fruit and vegetable waste in expectation of great dirt for the garden. With the advent of a worm farm, we are promised truly superior dirt with no down time due to the deep freeze of winter.

The vermi in my culture will be arriving from Whitehorse by car next week, at which time I hope to be fully prepared to welcome them with suitable surroundings and, figuratively speaking, open arms.

Last night I had a nightmare featuring small red worms so thick on the floor they formed a living carpet. They were slithering (another horrible word) up the legs of the bed, when I woke, whimpering and curled up so tightly my whole body fit on the pillows. I had the phone in my hand to call the purveyor of worms and cancel my order when I realized it was four in the morning and not a good time to call anyone about anything.

By morning I was calmer, having sat up in bed with the lights on for the rest of the night staring at the inch-high space under the bedroom door until my eyes ached.

I am undaunted; I will share my home with worms and we will co-exist in mutual benefit and harmony. Who knows, I may even become attached to certain individuals among them, giving them names, or titles.

If the experiment fails, they are reputed to be delicious when fried.



Heather Bennett is a writer

who lives in Watson Lake.

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