Sitting at our roughly hewn kitchen table, I was savoring a noontime meal with my three children. It was a casual homeschool day, leaving plenty of time to prepare a healthy lunch of salmon, cherry tomatoes, apple slices, fresh broccoli and celery slathered with peanut butter, lined with raisins, A.K.A.: Ants on a Log. Two of the kids were finished eating and were jabbering away while my Pokey-Little-Puppy son and I were polishing off our food. I glanced down at my almost empty plate to pick up one last morsel and witnessed horror of all horrors, a worm dancing on my broccoli. Gross me out! Well, at least it wasn’t half a worm.
Now I know in some cultures eating worms may serve as the primary source of protein, but in the Land of the Brave, worms are only welcome on the end of a fishing line. This was not a partly dead worm stuck to my vegetable. It was a lively, tiny lime green guy who was investigating the enormous new world outside of the plastic bag that had been his home for the past who-knows-how-many-weeks. He was bobbing this way and that, I presume with his head up and not vice versa. My children were fascinated and stuck their noses within germ passing distance to my plate. I was overcome with a sense of fullness, not needing another bite… at all. Maybe not even for dinner. After their curiosity was satisfied, they insisted that I retell a favorite family story of my feeding worms to their dad. This worm was indeed from the same family as the worms 16 years previous. Please humor me while I share….
It was late in summer and I was caring for the vegetable garden of a friend who was on holidays. (Canadians go on holidays. Americans go on vacation.) We were living in High Level, Alberta, a booming northern town of 2,000 inhabitants where the sun barely slid behind the horizon in summer. So much sunshine produced mammoth vegetables worthy of ribbons at a county fair. My friend instructed me to harvest, freeze and eat as much as my husband and I could manage while they were gone. Every day I hauled bags of fresh peas, broccoli, beans, leafy lettuce and corn to our home. I was in salad bar heaven.
Rick was flying for a small aviation company where, with so much daylight, they could fly almost 20 hours a day. Daily I packed a lunch and dinner for my husband because there were no places to eat on the remote strips where he was landing. Being blessed with fresh veggies, I loaded him up with meals that would make Peter Rabbit’s heart palpitate. Rick left the house around 7:00 a.m. and I began blanching and freezing the vegetables. I was three hours into my task when I plopped two heads of chopped broccoli crowns into boiling water. This same broccoli was earlier loaded into a Ziploc baggie in Rick’s lunch. As soon as the hot water penetrated the broccoli flowers, worms floated to the surface. Lime green wriggling worms. Twelve, maybe fifteen alive, but dying-very-quickly worms. Eeewww.
Immediately I dialed the number for the airport, hoping to catch Rick between flights to warn him of the hidden protein in his sack lunch. Surprisingly, Rick answered the phone. Not wanting to cause alarm, I asked how he was doing. Fine. Then I pried, “Did you eat your lunch yet?” Hoping I had intercepted the ingestion of grubs since it was only 10:00 in the morning. Unfortunately, Rick replied, “Yes, I did. I just finished and it was great. Thanks.”
“Good. See you tonight. Bye,” and I swiftly hung up before he could ask questions.
A prayer was sent heavenward for my husband’s stomach of steel to ward off any ill effects. I remembered John the Baptist eating locusts in Mark 1:6 and asked God to keep Rick alive as He had John. Late that night in the cover of darkness in our bedroom, I confessed to feeding worms to Rick. We laughed and laughed while tears gushed from our eyes.
I’m not sure why the kids love that story so much? Broccoli, anyone?