"No. NO, Myra," Lucy shakes her head, "the worms canNOT bite you." She nods staccato.
Eyes fixated on Myra's cupped hands, they blink-blink at a soil mound in her palms. Myra hip-hops one tiptoe to the other, hands impossibly still. She grimaces, holds her breath, releases an involuntary scream.
"See Myra? SEE? They can't BITE you."
"They don't have teeth!" I call, from the strawberry bed.
Joey flaps at my elbow. He licks a rock. I capture it. He waves a long sheaf of grass, squawks.
Myra shudders, and the whole worm enterprise shakes free of her fingers. Lucy scrambles the worm pile from Myra's knees, and one broad stroke after another, buries it in a rickety garden flat.
Then they frown. Knee to knee there at the garden flat, they unbury the worm. They check on it. They bury it, unbury it, bury it again.
"The worms are TIRED," Myra chirps, she a partial promenade now half across the grass. "I KNOW the worms are tired." Her eyebrows a circus tent above perfect blue circles, her sashay fades into an exaggerated gate, knees practically to her chest.
"This is my FOURTH one," Lu interrupts, her standing, me recumbent in the balmy grass. She dangles a thick noodle of a worm, brown and supple, there at my forehead. "I know what I can call it," she announces, "FOURTH OF JULY because he's my FOURTH one."
"No, Myra. No," Craig jangles behind me. "Worms CAN'T swim," He arrests her at the upturned plastic slide, she, gently stroking a puddle on it's underbelly, worms blissfully submerged.
Lucy leaps across the yard. She scoops the worms, flops them on the gray retaining wall, pat-pat-pat them dry with sturdy strokes.
"I just really hope the big one is still ALIVE," she gushes. She ambles as she doles out words, the grass flattened in a radius at her toes. "I can't find the baby one," she whispers. "I think maybe Myra dropped it in the grass."
She nods. I nod. We nod and frown, share a moment of agreement. Then, by silent cue, she and Myra scamper off, skitter down the back stairwell.
Joey grabs at the plum-rock just barely in reach. I shimmy it around my foot, tuck it under my instep.
"We put them to SLEEP," Myra announces, and they trounce back.
"We put them in a car and then we put in as much dirt as we could fit, and then I put it in a can," Lucy explains.
Jack smacks a wiffle ball in my peripheral, a too-small piece of firewood fully extended. He retrieves the ball then wails on it like a golf ball. Joey spots the plum-rock again, tries again to encapsulate it in his mouth. Sleight of hand, and it's mine.
"We're gettin' the worms up." Myra trumpets. "We're just gettin' the worms UP." Risen to the summit of the stairs, She holds up a trophy, wiggling, squishy, awake.
"NO, Myra! GIVE him to me," Lucy bursts. She lopes over a flowerbed, her stride a wide pendulum, johny-jump-ups unscathed. "You are pinching him TOO hard." She makes a swing at the worm. Myra holds him high, higher, at the apex of her arms. "NO, Myra."
I watch the round-robin two-step, schoolyard rules. They negotiate, appeal, advance and retreat. One finally snaggles the lead, the other follows, and the worm, passive object of affection, settles back into the car-can setup. They nod in solidarity, problem resolved, hierarchy preserved - friendship and loyalty in tact.
4568. A friend enrolls me in a Danish baking class.
4569. We flub through construction traffic on the way to my mom's. "Jane, we're not doing anything illegal," Jack blusters, "Mom knows what she is doing. TRUST."
4570. Quinoa salad, strawberry shortcake, candid conversation, Tuesday at Mom's.
4571. Our small group Bible study gathers for the first of summer barbecues, children and adults, the ebb and flow of chatter all around.
4572. Wednesday it rains. "I'm gonna make a giant fort," Jack decides, "and I think that will keep me warm 'cause forts trap warm air."
4573. Dad and Mom bring burgers to barbecue. We wander the garden, look into each other's faces, watch the age of another week, trace the immeasurable value.
4574. "Momma, you're doing a great job," Jane says as I fill a mason jar with honey. "I know you need to hear that a lot to succeed," she says, "just like I do."
4575. I go shopping for flip-flops and Jane communicates in ASL.
4576. "This is grown-up potatoes," Myra comments on the red potatoes I serve for dinner. "I like Miss Lynne's potatoes. I like purple potatoes."
4577. Mom and I chat away a whole morning past lunch.
4578. Silver earrings.
4579. Jane gets a new rash guard for the swimming season, robin's egg blue.
4580. Craig chops wood down on the farm. His dad rigs a wood splitter to use next time.
4581. "Mom," Jack says, "I whistle one note kind of quiet because if I do it loud you won't approve. And then I can do it longer 'cause I'm sucking in so much air." Jack learns how to whistle.
4582. "MOMMA, say MOMMA," Jack coaches Joe. "DADDA," Joey says.
4583. We visit Craig's mom at the Rose Show.
4584. 'If I don't know where I'm going it just means you will see lots of stuff. I don't necessarily know where I am going," Lucy explains as we wander the magnificent gardens at the Rose Show.
4585. We play at the pool with cousins.
4586. I discover Lucy's baby worm happened when the first one got pinched in half.
4587. Craig takes me on a date. We hold hands and talk the whole time.
4588. We find ourselves in a new season of solidarity. The future looks bright.