The rain had been falling all day and all throughout the day and night before.

With dinner and my evening chores done, I settled in at the cabin’s table to contentedly sort through my marbles. I was separating the cat eyes by both color and the number of veins that ran through the clear glass.

Greg stepped outside to get the night’s supply of firewood, but it seemed that no sooner had he left, then he was back with a big grin spread across his face. He stood in the doorway.

“Get your boots on. You’ve got to check this out.”

I stood and grabbed a jacket and ball cap. I really do not like looking through rain-speckled glasses, and my ball cap’s bill seems to provide just the needed eyewear protection. I pulled on my rubber boots and followed Greg down the cabin’s front steps. It was amazingly dark. None of our outside solar lights were on. There had not been sufficient sun to recharge their batteries for the past several days. Greg turned on his high-powered flashlight when we reached the bottom step. He took a few paces forward and then stopped.

“Listen,” he said.

I listened to the rushing sound of the rain-swollen creek, and then I heard the oddest slurping noise. It seemed to be coming from all around us. We stepped cautiously forward as Greg shone the flashlight on the ground ahead of us, and then I saw what it was he had wanted to show me.

Everywhere, every two or three feet, were the longest, fattest worms I had ever seen. Whenever we would take a step, they would somehow sense our movement and suddenly slither back into their wormholes and make that slurping sound.

We stood still, and I watched in amazement as Greg shone the light across the muddy ground. Some of the worms were easily one-foot long.

There was a large ringed segment closer to one end, and that end was decidedly a darker red than the other, flatter end of the worm. I later learned that the darker end was actually the head of the worm. I found that I did not want to make a move, for fear of stepping on them. They were simply ubiquitous, but with every footstep we took, every worm within a few feet of us would quickly retreat back into the ground with that odd mud-slurping sound. We figured it was safe to walk.

The rain continued to fall. The worms continued to crawl, but in time Greg and his flashlight ushered me back up the cabin steps before Greg turned to resume his errand, retrieving the night’s supply of firewood.

We have called the creek our home for the past 15 years, but it still seems that every season of every year, I learn something new. I have certainly encountered nightcrawlers before, but it is usually when I turn over a rock or pick up a log from the bottom of the wood pile. On occasion, I have encountered a few on a rainy night, but never have I seen so many, and never have I heard the night filled with that odd slurping sound.

Greg and I figured that it was because weather and season had combined to make it the perfect nightcrawler night. It was too early for the spring grass to have started growing, so that the ground around the cabin was quite free of green.

And then, the past several days of continuous rain had turned that bare ground into a thick muddy porridge. I found myself cringing with every footstep whenever I left the cabin, and with each step, the mud would ooze out from under my boots. I stepped ever so carefully. The thought of slipping and falling into the copious brown soup was nothing short of terrifying.

But on this particular night, the worms had reigned glorious.

I knew that I would no longer think of our creek valley soil as simply soil, or even mud.

With each step, I now knew to be thankful for the plentiful creatures who live below.

Yes, indeed, I really do know that the valley is the very well populated home of some curious creatures who are content to help us till and fertilize our soil.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio. Visit them on the web at