It is a beautiful Monday morning and a good time to attempt gardening before the day gets away from me. Armed with my shovel and hand trowel I march out to what we refer to as "The South Forty". Really it is the back of our one acre lot where the vine garden resides; a raised bed housing vine plants of tangled greenery that can spread freely in its own corner. I have barely worked up a good sweat when I hear my son's voice bellowing from his perch on the back porch. "Moooom?" he calls. My instincts tell me the garden will not be finished this morning. "Out here," I call and wave. "What's up?"
"We have worms in the house."
My response to these kinds of statements rarely invokes any kind of panic. Yet this particular child does not exaggerate. Naturally I picture brown earth worms creeping all over my tile floor. No, scratch that. Not even remotely possible. "What color are they?" I yell back.
Three feet into the house I am confronted with my first intruder. Taking a closer look my suspicions are confirmed. From a distance my adult son watches. "They're maggots," I state with a coldness in my heart and my boot comes down on top of the creature. I apologize but must protect my tribe. No maggots in my house.
"What's a maggot?" he asks. Really? Have I sheltered him that much?
"A fly larvae," I respond, still following the trail. Bam! My shoe comes down again.
"From where?" he continues.
I stomp and another larvae meets his Maker. "Not sure," I reply, "but we have to find the source." I continue through the kitchen toward the bedroom and locate several brave souls trying to escape. I am annoyed at how fast these tiny creatures can move. I suppose this is why they have survived through all other catastrophes, but despite his best efforts, he cannot escape my wrath and the death count continues to rise.
Confident that my mission is mostly completed I head back to the kitchen and pull open the trash can bin. A single house fly takes flight and saunters past me. She (I assume it is a she) is unusually slow. I sense her life force is leaving and if I had given birth to all those worms I would also be near death. I do not judge.
Peering into the trash I note a few of her surviving maggots. Am I the only one in the house that throws the garbage? Apparently I am not on top of my job. They are quickly bagged with the trash and their home is removed from my home. I clean up the remaining body parts and my family is safe once again.
I have lost my enthusiasm for gardening and flop into the kitchen chair. But then I am overcome with sadness. I just destroyed her family! How silly, I think to myself, but then recognize that the reason there are maggots on Monday is that I was with my entire family on Saturday. One or more flies undoubtedly joined the party. Children and grandchildren running in and out the door; our lovable dogs begging to get in the house or out to the yard; ample plates of food prepared from my own garden, wine, laughter, community. My life is blessed and because I am such a sentimental old hippie/spiritualist, I thank the fly for reminding me of these gifts. Not to mention how grateful I am to be a human and not a bug.
Yes, the house fly has a purpose, and brings me great joy in my compost pile, but not in my kitchen. Yet, how awesome is it that even the smallest and lowest among us can share a life lesson? Within a few brief moments I have experienced determination on my part; the struggle to survive, on the maggots' part, the miracle of how perfect this planet works and gratitude. What a great way to start the week.