Thank goodness we’re at the end of May; it’s been a trying month for lots of residents and other creatures in this area and beyond.

Tuttle Creek Reservoir is filling at a rate that evokes unpleasant memories of 1993, and anyone who’s paid attention knows about basements flooding and the hassles of invasive rainwater. A foot of rain this month has created problems for residents all over town, even in areas not threatened by the potential of major releases of water from the dam. When it rains, it really does pour.

Occupants and landlords have been put out to varying degree. Some need only mop up and turn on fans or a dehumidifier. Others will borrow or dip into savings to make things right and perhaps invest in measures to prevent a recurrence.

This might involve a lot of money, but, the saying goes, it’s only money. One needn’t be wealthy to say that. One lottery ticket can fix everything.

OK, so the lottery will fix everything for someone else. Maybe your next fortune cookie will bring you a smile. Despite the aches and the water worries, there is a bright side. There’s always a bright side, even if exists mostly in the fact that it could be worse.

Consider, for a moment, the humble earthworm. Earthworms ask little of their existence. Something to compost and protection from voles are (probably) all it takes to make them smile in their own unique way. When earthworms are happy, it increases the likelihood that our flowers and vegetables and crops are happy. And that, in turn, makes just about everybody smile.

But earthworms, at least those I’ve encountered on neighborhood walks when a heavy rain lets up, haven’t seemed happy. Many are dead or dying (it’s hard to tell without close inspection). They just seem to lie there strung out in those rivulets of rainwater flowing along the curb to the nearest gutter. When the flows slow and the pavement dries, those earthworms that aren’t already dead or eaten by birds wither in place.

To be fair, my knowledge about earthworms is limited to personal experience, which itself is limited, and to Google, an imperfect but useful resource. Did you know that there are about 2,700 kinds of earthworms? Do you care? Or that in the most favorable conditions, an acre of land might be home to as many as 1 million of the curious creatures composting away right under our feet.

Although many people who fish find them useful enough as bait to pay for them, I’ve never had the patience for fishing (no matter how much beer was on hand). In fact, about the only times I encounter earthworms are when I’m walking my dog between rains or when I’m planting something.

But I feel an affinity for the little creatures that extends back more than 25 years. It stems from when Preston, now 30 and tall, was much younger and, well, wide for his height. He liked to play with earthworms.

When he came upon them in any number, such as when heavy rains force them out of the ground and strand them in puddles, he’d involve them in whatever games struck his fancy.

I remember him sitting cross-legged at the edge of a puddle in a low spot in our driveway or at the side of the road on some wet summer afternoons. Sometimes he’d have a toy truck or boat or some little people with him, but other times he be talking to the worms in the shallow water.

This, of course, was after he introduced himself. And if the worms wouldn’t identify themselves, he’d give them names. One almost always became Captain Planet, and if the supply of worms was adequate, the Ninja turtles were represented. Usually the biggest worm was dubbed He-Man, Master of the Universe.

Preston is all grown up now and the worms he played with as a kid have also moved on. I won’t speculate that their time together was as much fun for the worms as it was for Preston, but they indulged or tolerated his youthful fantasies. And now I can’t look at or hold a worm without that wonderful memory coming back.

• Some business: It seems I performed a mild disservice to a certain feline a few weeks ago when I repeatedly referred to Preston and Becca’s cat as Obi. Preston has informed me that the 2-year-old Bengal’s full name is Obi Cat Kenobi. However, Obi is OK on second reference.

Braun retired in 2017 as the Mercury’s editorial page editor.

Recommended for you