A story written for our October 2015
White Eagle Family Service on the theme of ‘Earth Blessing’ by Kathryn Bingham

It was soon after the autumn equinox and already the days were getting shorter and the nights longer. At the end of a busy day, mum was in the kitchen making the evening meal.

‘Oh I meant to make an apple crumble this evening’ she said to Isabel ‘Be a love and go and fetch me some of the windfall apples from the bottom of the garden. You may have to take the torch to search for some under the shrubs as its already going a bit dark’....

Isabel liked a challenge and so she rushed to get the torch and ran outside without even remembering to put her shoes on. The grass was wet with the evening dew and rather cold under foot and she soon realised that she had to watch VERY carefully where she was putting her feet as there were lots of slugs making their slimy way across the lawn.

‘Eeeogh!’ she thought as she began to go a little more slowly dreading the thought of stepping on one. She shone the beam of torch light to examine the grass more clearly and was more than a little surprised to see a sudden fast movement on the grass, then another and another. She stopped to take a closer look and was amazed to see that it was the movement of long wriggly worms shooting their way back into the safety of the soil.

‘Yucky Worms!’ she cried, I never knew they could move that fast!

‘Yucky Worms!’ ‘Yucky Worms?’ Isabel heard a tiny voice echoing her words.

‘Not Yucky WORMS – MAGNIFICENT Worms!’

Isabel looked around to see where the little voice was coming from. And there in front of her on the grass, just near a circle of toadstools, she saw a tiny glow of light that seemed to get brighter and brighter as she looked at it. Suddenly she could just about make out the shape of a tiny little being.

Before Isabel knew what was happening she was taken by the hand of this tiny creature and found herself instantly shrunk to the same size,. All around her were the huge blades of dewy grass and monstrously big green boulders that she realised were the windfall apples!

The fairy, for that indeed was what the glowing little being was, smiled and said –
‘Come on, I know you like adventures. Let’s go on down!’

And before you could say apple pips Isabel found herself shooting down the worm hole as if it were a giant helter-skelter.

Isabel was so glad to have the light and protection of the fairy with her for she felt that she was entering into a totally alien world , almost as if she had landed on another planet and wasn’t just at the bottom of her garden.

The soil was teeming with life – so many tiny weeney creatures moving about amongst a forest of mixed seeds and roots. ‘Hee hee’ giggled the fairy, ‘you didn’t expect that did you! Do you know that there is more life in this little bit of soil that we can see than there are people living in your country! Hee hee! All so busy, breaking up the dead leaves and plants to slowly make it into soil. It takes ever such a lot of time and effort you know - It takes more than 500 of your earth years to form two centimetres of soil! How busy everyone is down here making it happen.’

Suddenly the soil began to move and shake as if an earthquake was happening. Isabel clung onto the fairy’s hand and looked frantically around.

‘Ah here comes one of our valiant heroes’ she said, as the end of a gigantic earth worm came into view. Look how strong and muscley he is – do you know he is about 1000 times stronger than you are – relatively speaking of course!’
This didn’t give Isabel any reassurance at all as the long creature drew closer and closer. ‘ He’s rather hungry, you know, he actually eats his own weight in food everyday...but don’t worry he and his friends only eat dead leaves, and roots and petals and things like that, and when it comes out the other end it makes the soil rich and lovely, feeding all the seeds and plants in your garden. Without him and his friends there wouldn’t be anything growing here at all!’

The worm slithered very noisily right passed Isabel and she watched in amazement the rippling of his slightly hairy (yes hairy!) body as he pushed his way past and back up to the surface of the grass to find his supper. Isabel was suddenly aware of the whole soil around her moving and alive as more and more worms came into view. ‘My goodness’ she exclaimed ‘How many are there?’

‘Oh maybe about half a million in your garden’, she laughed, ‘and you never knew! Without all those magnificent worms, you certainly wouldn’t be enjoying apple crumble tonight!’

In the blink of an eye, Isabel suddenly found herself her normal size again standing on the grass looking down at the worms creeping their way up to the surface. She heard a merry little tinkling laugh again and a glow of light slowly fading around the toadstools. Before the light disappeared completely, she heard the fairy say:

‘The earth is amazing you know; the soil is wonderful; don’t forget that there’s so much more to life than you can see with your eyes.....And remember not yucky worms but magnificent worms!’ And with that she was gone!

Well, it was in somewhat of a daze that Isabel carefully collected enough apples to make into a crumble, making absolutely sure that she wasn’t disturbing all those amazing creatures that were helping to create the rich, fertile soil.

She tiptoed her way back across the lawn carrying the apples to the kitchen. When she opened the door her mother looked at her in great surprise. ‘
‘Why whatever have you been doing – you’re covered in soil from head to foot!’

‘Well mum, if I told you I don’t think you would believe me!’ Isabel smiled.

‘But I’ll tell you one thing, I’m NEVER going to think the same way about worms, or our garden, ever again!