My Hero, the Earthworm

Haruka Rokushima
Middle School Attached to Hirosaki University

Do you like earthworms? I'm not expecting you to answer "Yes" of course. Because, they are ugly, slimy, dirty, and they look so weak. How grotesque they are! I didn't like them either. But now I love them. That's right, I love earthworms.

Do you want to know what changed my mind ? Well, one day, my teacher asked us if we liked earthworms. Of course we all answered 'No!' But she said "Find out the facts about earthworms. I'm sure you'll find them a very interesting creature. " An interesting creature? No, way! But, I thought I would give it a try. First, I went to the Jsapanese website. Half of the pages were about fishing. Poor earthworms, they'll be fishing bait! And there were some commercial sites about composter using earthworms. Hmmm. Earthworms eat garbage. This didn't make them seem any more interesting. I also visited Yahoo U.S website. As many as 30,000 pages were about them! But some pages

were about a new Nintendo game called "Earthworm Jim". The English websites were difficult but I felt "There must be some interesting secrets about them, otherwise people wouldn't be so fascinated by them." Then I went to the library. Here are some of the facts I've found about my new hero, the Earthworm.

Earthworms bring all kinds of organic debris from the surface of the ground deep into their burrows. As they 'eat' the debris, earthworms excrete soil containing concentrated nitrate, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, and

calcium. These are vitamins and minerals that are all very essential for healthy plants to grow. Plus, the organic debris, even glass, will be crushed into really fine soil as it goes through the worms' bodies, their excrement becomes soft and fluffy soil. Awesome!

After a long time even stones and other objects on the surface of the ground will be buried by worms. This process has even buried and preserved ancient buildings. Each year earthworm castings cover each acre with as much as 18 tons of rich soil. Amazing!

What's more,when earthworms die, usually in the dry summer, the organic material making up their bodies is gradually released into the soil providing additional nutrients for plants. How heroic they are, even in death they help us! I was deeply moved. In many European countries and elsewhere, people buy worms at the DIY shops and release them in the field or in the garden to make soil healthier. How about in Japan? Do we all know how great they are? If you think they are yucky, please give the little worms another chance, because this small creature helps to make the world a better place!

Let me ask you this question once again. "Do you like EARTHWORMS?" If I am ever asked again, of course my answer will be "Yes" ! Mr. Earthworm, I thank you for all that you do and I love you so much! You work so hard day and night without asking for a reward. You are a little workaholic, I think. Do you want to know how much I love you? I want to kiss you when I meet you on the road or in the garden! The good lesson I learned through studying about you was, 'Don't judge a thing by its appearance'. You may be ugly, but I think you are wonderful. You showed me two things, first that even a little creature like you can change the world, and second that there are so many wonderful things I don't know about our amazing planet, yet.

Thank you very much.

(4-16 Speech in 53rd Contest, 2001)

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