mud season

March 16th, 2009 | Uncategorized


I went on a lovely hike with Hol out in the woods yesterday. I was thinking about the idea of watersheds because I just read a poem by Gary Snyder called Watershed. He supposedly signs his emails with it because it’s his “address.”

North of the South Yuba River
Near the headwaters of Blind Shady Creek

In the trees at the high end of a bunchgrass meadow.

(I learned about this in the book I just reviewed for the New York Times Book Review. I can’t tell you yet what book it was, but my piece will be in the 3/29 issue.)

I’ve always been rather fond of Gary Snyder, ever since reading Kerouac’s Dharma Bums, in which Snyder is fictionalized as the wild mountain man zen poet Japhy Ryder who takes Jack and Allen Ginsburg hiking in the Sierras in the fifties, before people really did stuff like that, and Japhy was so free and alive, he took off his clothes and bounded up a mountain wearing nothing but a jockstrap.

I kept all my clothes on yesterday, and I did not bound up Camel’s Hump. But I got this pretty picture of it with its snowy white bald eagle head catching the afternoon sun.


I’ve been working on my own watershed address. So far all I’ve got is,

Two miles uphill from the Winooski River
Next to a seasonal stream
That feeds Duck Brook.

I just googled “watershed address” trying to find Snyder’s poem, and I got this actual EPA website which will locate your watershed. So you can find your watershed address too.

Here’s a little movie I shot yesterday of some of the snowmelt beginning its trip down to the Winooski–which lies between me and Camel’s Hump.

Holly’s a Snyder fan too, (hey, her Compost Maven blog has moved and gotten fancier) and coincidentally alluded to his work and watersheds on her Facebook page recently.


She was showing these new t-shirts she had made for her “compost local” campaign, and our friend Cathy Resmer commented “Wait, where else would you compost?” Holly explained,

Good question! Well, for starters you could send it away from your backyard or your garden. One could consider that non-local, even if you’re sending it to the Intervale which is in your watershed. You could even put it in your (gasp!) trash bag and send it to the landfill in Coventry. Or worse (shudder!).

For me, this message is about raising awareness (and look! it’s already working!) about the importance of composting as a local issue. Composting matters because it ties together all kinds of important natural cycles and connections between people and planet and brain synapses. Compost local is about putting myself in an ecosystem. It pinpoints me somewhere on the earth with a precise watershed address where I eat food that is grown in living topsoil underfoot that needs organic matter derived in part from my own table scraps.

I have pledged my allegiance to the soil and this is my clarion call, my love letter to dirt!

So there you go. Dirt, and water, which is perfect because it’s Mud Season here right now.

89 Responses to “mud season”

  1. Churchy says:

    I assume Holly has read “The Earth Moved” a wonderful book about earthworms? Can’t remember the author nor do I have it to hand. But I do have a three layer compost box whence I get wonderful compost for my backyard. Remember, worms are our FRIENDS.

  2. Holly has installed a worm bin in our kitchen. I’m kind of afraid to look inside. I’m not squeamish about worms, and I’m happy that they’re composting the eggshells, but I just haven’t quite gotten used to the idea of worms, like, in the kitchen.

  3. hairball_of_hope says:

    I have a stupid question. What are urban dwellers supposed to do with regard to compost? And in particular, to composting locally?

    The closest I’ve ever come to composting in my apartment is to go away on an extended trip and come home to a self-composting refrigerator full of science projects. Ewwww.

    But seriously, the opportunities to create and use compost locally in a place like Manhattan are really very limited. Yeah, I know about the handful of local community gardens (thank you Bette Midler for saving some of them from Giuliani’s land grabs!). But it’s often not feasible, because then we’re feeding the rats.

    And no, I don’t think we have enough tree pits to support the potential compost output of a typical city block, nor the space locally to compost that much stuff in the first place.

    So, what to do?

  4. Hey, Hairball! Good question, and Hol has lots of answers. She’s working on getting a compost FAQ up on her sites and, so if you ask there, you should receive.

  5. j.b.t. says:

    I had a worm bin once, around 10 years ago – but I kept it under the sink in my teeny tiny apartment kitchen and I think it was too close to the oven, because the worms died.

    We did get several months of composting out of them, though. My sister called them “the borg” because they all seemed to be part of one larger being….

    I’m afraid my 4 year old wouldn’t leave them alone if I tried to do it now.

    Go compost!

  6. Ted says:

    Alison, it appears that Snyder probably lived North of Nevada City Calif. (about 90 miles Northeast of Sacramento) Blind Shady creek is north of Nevada City and it appears that its headwaters are not very far to the east. I doubt that the population has changed much from the days of the Beats.

    When I was younger I spent lots of time backpacking in the Sierras. It’s truly a wonderful place. And at times I did take my clothes off to enjoy the solitude.

    Speaking of Mud when I lived near Detroit we had a “Mud Room” I’m sure they must be quite common in your neck of the woods.

  7. hairball_of_hope says:

    Thanks AB, I asked over at WFL, but I guess my question is in blog limbo/purgatory/whatever until it gets approved.

    I dunno about that worm bin in the kitchen… my cat would have easily gotten into it, and I’d likely have had a kitchen floor full of half-dead (and perhaps half-eaten) worms. Dr. Winnicott hasn’t tried to play with the worms?

  8. Taylor says:

    hey Gary Snyder just read some poems in a book room at the UC Berkeley campus here is a video of the wise mountaineer

  9. Ellen Orleans says:

    Three somewhat-related comments:

    The sound of running water is especially wonderful as we are having another winter drought here in the Colorado Front Range.

    A few years ago I was hiking a nearby trail that crossed a partially frozen creek. The deep baritone of the flowing water beneath the ice stopped me in my tracks (literally). So many different pitches and rhythms.

    I watched the film Frozen River tonight. One of those spare works that are hugely powerful in their understatement.

  10. Maggie Jochild says:

    When I read the title for this new post, I immediately thought of Frost’s poem, “Two Tramps in Mud Time”, with the closing lines which have become a life mantra for me:

    My object in living is to unite
    My avocation and my vocation
    As my two eyes make one in sight.
    Only where love and need are one,
    And the work is play for mortal stakes,
    Is the deed ever really done
    For Heaven and the future’s sakes.

  11. nyced says:

    I hope that this is the right place to ask. I went to a talk by Allison when Essential Dykes To Watch Out For was published. At the talk she said that a tabloid newspaper had been printed with news stories about the characters in the book. I think she said that it was available here on this website. Is this tabloid still available? Can I get it here? TIA

  12. acilius says:

    Lovely video! That ending makes the two of you look like magical apparitions.

    You have a remarkable eye for depth. When I first saw the photo on the post about your new iPhone, I thought it showed you looking into a ViewMaster. I hoped that the post would announce that you had made a series of stereo photographs.

  13. desmene says:

    Thanks for the words about Gary Snyder this morning. Looked up my watershed, and also found a great interview with him in the archives at Shambhala Sun–

    Also, a poem for Holly:

    On Top

    All this new stuff goes on top
    turn it over, turn it over
    wait and water down
    from the dark bottom
    turn it inside out
    let it spread through
    Sift down even.
    Watch it sprout.

    A mind like compost.

  14. bean says:

    i’ve often wondered why we don’t have municipal compost pickup and management along with our trash removal and recycling. it seems sorta obvious.

    imagine fragrant compost centers, instead of smelly landfills in our towns.

    of course, if you HAVE a backyard, no reason to make another truck come to your house…

    right now, i have a backyard, and i’ve been throwing my kitchen waste in it. the local dogs think i’m cool, but they’ve left a circle of dogshit around my “compost pile.” i guess i haven’t been very organized about the whole project, i just hate sending the stuff to the landfill (where, in case anyone doesn’t know, it DOESN’T break down)

    so, i’ve been considering a worm box in my kitchen (yick), to make the stuff usable and keep the dogs out of my yard.

    desmene, i like the poem.

  15. Hazel says:

    I love the brook video. When I was a kid, I whittled a little boat and painted it Chinese red so it was visible. Then I would launch it in a spring brook that ran through our field.

  16. slamson says:

    My watershed is a bit of a mouthfull:


    I love this blog for the awesome and diverse bits of eco-geekery often listed. Can’t remember the last time I didn’t learn something either from the main post or the comments. Thanks!

  17. sashanator says:

    2.6 Miles from Almaden Lake
    Fed by Coyote Creek

    Diazinon level 10, Toxicity 7

  18. jen in California says:

    Hopefully I’m not reposting info already discussed, but I don’t always catch all the comments 🙂

    My new Bitch magazine came in the mail, and it’s got a nice review of EDTWOF in the Book section. Does anyone else subscribe to Bitch? I f-ing love that mag!

    (thus ends my complex analysis of Bitch magazine)

  19. jen in California says:

    Oh, and my real headwaters address is likely more poetic, but the address of my “working headwaters” (ie, the place now producing the wet swampy effects of my area) are:

    Beneath the pierced gutterspout
    directly above my front door,
    slightly downhill from the backed up
    street drain, gently flooding my suburban street.

  20. hairball_of_hope says:


    Thanks for that wonderful bit of Frost. I found the entire thing on (!!):

  21. Ian says:

    Worms in the kitchen? It could be worse. My uncle is a keen angler and used to keep the maggots he used as bait in an old margarine tub in the fridge! Ugh!

  22. Ian says:

    PS The BBC reports an interesting theory that The Wizard of Oz is actually an economic allegory of the times when the book was published?

    Ok this is the book but don’t they KNOW the film is all about the gays? 😉

  23. jaydee says:

    Ian, I recall hearing about that in a history class in college. I guess at the time it was written there was a great debate about the gold standard vs. silver as I recall. The yellow brick road representing those who favored the gold – OZ being the abbreviation for ounces.

  24. hairball_of_hope says:


    re: Municipal compost pickup/management

    I seem to recall a former Philadelphian telling me they had different kinds of garbage collection when she was a kid (long before there were recycling laws). I think she said they had to separate stuff (non-biodegradable solids from organic matter). But maybe I’m wrong. Aunt Soozie, you have Philly connections, yes? What say you?

  25. Andrew B says:

    I am presently too lazy to surf over to Wikipedia and check this, so take it with even more grains of salt than usual…

    Ian, I think Baum was a Prairie Populist and Wizard of Oz was intended as a populist allegory — the wizards being the bad gold bugs who kept the farmers (scarecrow), mechanics (tin man), and police/soldiers (lion) in their thrall with smoke and mirrors magic tricks. “Gold bug” = supporter of the gold standard for money. The gold standard held down the supply of money, so that as economic activity increased through the late 19th C, prices had to fall. That benefited those who owned money, as their money could buy more and more, but hurt borrowers, including farmers, who had to pay their loans back in constant dollars even though the prices for their products were steadily declining. This lasted from something like 1873-1898. Thus populism spread in the American grain belt.

    The populists wanted silver to become an acceptable backing for bank notes because there was a lot more silver than gold. This would allow the money supply to grow and end the deflation. Silver was also backed by silver mining interests in the Rocky Mountains, who wanted the gov’t to buy their silver.

    It’s tempting to see the Populists as pure heroes, but that would be wrong. They often had negative sides as well — anti-urban, anti-immigrant, anti-industrial and in that sense anti-labor, often specifically antisemitic… Not to say that every populist shared these qualities, but that they were present in the movement. It wasn’t just noble family farmers protecting themselves against predatory lenders and railroads, as it’s sometimes sentimentally portrayed.

    Ok, that went on longer than I intended.

  26. debs says:

    In the original book, Dorothy wears silver slippers.

  27. Andrew B says:

    @Ellen Orleans: I have had a similar experience when hiking near a stream. Running water sometimes does sound like distant voices. There’s a reason why the phrase “babbling brook” came to be a cliche. It can be spooky when you’re out by yourself.

  28. ladiesbane says:

    @sashanator: your post cracked me up. I then felt abashed because toxicity is awful. But your form was classic humor: mundane opener, casual tone, twist at the end (and it sounds like a sports score as a bonus.) I don’t know what was intended. I’m sorry. (But I’m still laughing.)

  29. Anna says:

    In northern Europe sorting your garbage in to different bins is mandatory and there are municipal composting fields in every city. Which is a blessing since having worms in the kitchen gives me creeps. entomophobic as I am

    When I was a little girl, my mum was part of a group called “wormcircle”, basic idea was to raise worms and teach people how to take care of their indoor composts

  30. Alex says:

    Hmmm. Watershed. Makes me think of k.d. lang’s newest album called Watershed. Damn fine CD. I’ve been obsessing over that CD for two weeks now, so that’s what I think of when I think of watershed.

  31. Barbara says:

    Here in San Francisco each home has a little green compost bin in our kitchen which we transfer to a larger one outside and the city picks it up every week. Pretty cool.

    Emily Saliers (indigo girls) sings an amazing song called Watershed…..

  32. Therry says:

    Listening to your video made me cry and open my window so I could hear the same sound behind my house. God, I love this blog.

  33. Alex says:

    Hoping that I might hear something cool outside, I stepped outside my front door only to hear squawking grackles in the one tree (pecan) nearby, screaming kids from the daycare across the street, traffic from two nearby busy streets, a firetruck speeding by, a dumpster being emptied, and the annoying drive-thru speaker from the McDonald’s I live behind. Oh yes, and I also saw a crack deal go down. I live in Austin, TX. Sigh.

  34. acilius says:

    @alex: “that’s what I think of when I think of watershed.” And of course there’s Maggie Jochild’s wonderful blog, Meta Watershed.

  35. Kate L says:

    Everyone posting on this particular blog seems either to be squirming with wormophobia, or breaking into song. I propose to do both!

    There’s a new sound
    The newest sound around
    The strangest sound that you have ever heard
    Not like a wild boar
    Or a jungle lion’s roar
    It isn’t like the cry of any bird
    But there’s a new sound
    It’s deep down in the ground
    And everyone who listens to it squirms
    Because this new new sound
    So deep down in the ground
    Is the sound that’s made by worms
    – Burrello and Murray (1952)
    Listen to the song of the worms:

  36. Riotllama says:

    @hairball_of_hope – Since Soozie is uncharacteristically quiet, I will represent for Philly as well as I can. Until this past new years, we’ve had to separate our recycling, but I can’t ever remember having to separate regular trash. I’ll ask my dad, he was born in the late 40’s and might remember something.

    The nearest body of running water to me would be Mill creek, but it was covered over (finished in 1895) and is now mostly 43rd st.
    I lived in a house once where we had a work bin, but one of my housemates (perversely perhaps?)kept dumping coffee grounds in there and they died. sad. had backyard compost piles for the past 10 years though.

  37. hairball_of_hope says:

    A dear friend of mine made up a song about eating worms when she was a kid. She would sing it whenever she was sad or upset, and it made her feel better.

    Fast forward 50 years, and this same woman, a mid-50s über-professional polished managerial type in full corporate drag, will spontaneously burst out into this song (sung in a falsetto Muppet voice) at odd moments at work. We have to actively try not to piddle on the floor because we are laughing so hard, and it always makes us feel better.

    Nobody likes me
    Everybody hates me
    I’m going out to eat worms
    Big ones
    Small ones
    Fat ones
    Skinny ones
    I’m going out to eat worms.

  38. jaydee says:

    Oy, here’s another version…

    Nobody likes me
    Everybody hates me
    Think I’ll go eat worms.

    Big fat juicy worms
    Slip slop slimy worms
    Fuzzy wuzzy worms

    The first one was easy
    the second one was greasy
    The third one got caught in my throat (cough, cough)

    Big fat juicy worms
    Slip slop slimy worms
    Fuzzy wuzzy worms


  39. cybercita says:

    nobody likes me
    everybody hates me
    i’m going to eat some worms today
    big ones
    little ones
    ishy gushy gooey ones
    i’m going to eat some worms.

    first you take the skin off
    then you suck the juice out
    then you throw the rest away
    big ones
    little ones
    ishy gushy gooey ones
    i’m going to eat some worms today.

  40. Cheryl says:

    love the worm songs; I am going to combine them as three verses and sing them at work

  41. ksbel6 says:

    I love the indigo girls. Saw them live last summer in Albuquerque, NM. Still pumped after Joan last night.

    Robert Frost poetry is so moving.

    Composting in my little country town is very common. We all have large yards with piles in the back corners. Lots of the folks who have ducks or chickens will happily take kitchen waste off one’s hands.

  42. DeLand DeLakes says:

    @ Andrew B-
    ….So L. Frank Baum was rallying against Paultards and their flatulent “gold standard?” As if I could possibly like him even more!

  43. Leshka says:

    @ hairball – I just left a comment about composting as well. Us New Yawkers need to stick together!

  44. acilius says:

    @DeLand DeLakes: I like L. Frank Baum too, but don’t look at what he said about Native Americans. Years ago Ward Churchill turned up an editorial Baum wrote for the Aberdeen, Kansas “Saturday Pioneer” on 20 December 1890 calling for- well, as I say, don’t look at it if you want to keep your warm feelings for Baum. I’ll just tell you that the editorial makes the crass remarks about 9/11 that brought celebrity to Churchill in 2005 sound like the voice of sweet charity by contrast.

  45. sashanator says:


    Yay, it was too good to pass up despite the appalling nature of the situation.

    I used to play in the adjoining Guadalupe river which was/is full of mercury. Oh boy! I remember my brother bringing home a string of trout that he caught in that water. We fried them up and had them for dinner.

    This explains a lot about my people.

  46. Suz (half a mile from the Gowanus Canal, slightly resentful that her watershed is called "southern Long Island") says:

    More background on what Andrew was talking about re Baum’s financial setting– there were a series of major and semi-major financial crises in the US in the late 19th century. The largest was 1893, which set the domestic standard for what a depression is until the 1929 crash happened.

    I think a decent argument can be made that that period looked a lot like where we are now. Many of the very rich and sort of rich did well, and the far greater numbers of not-rich were not helped by the ups on the high end and kind of got forgotten about and ignored.

  47. Mary E says:

    New to this blog but I’m in love with it already 🙂

    @Anna – I know you wrote wormcircle, but I missed the R and my first thought was of a wormsicle… like a popsicle made of of worms (ick)!

    @Kate L – nice song 😛

    @everyone… hello!

  48. Dale says:

    Wow, Ian…I’m going to have to reread that. I forgot that her shoes were silver in the book. But I don’t remember connecting any of it with economics of any sort. Course, I was just reading it for fun. The only book I’ve really read into was The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. After reading through a few times I realised Ende had several allegories hidden all through it.
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must seek out our local watershed.

  49. Ian says:

    Thanks for the extra info Andrew B and debs! I didn’t know the shoes were silver originally. I guess ruby shows up better in technicolour!

    I love the worm songs – I even have a bluesy tune in my head that it runs to. I can see where your boss is coming from as when I’m upset I find belting out torch songs (yes, I know) very therapeutic. Sadly, I couldn’t carry a tune in a ten ton truck never mind a bucket so I normally try to spare people’s ears the horror. But at odd moments at work occasionally a few bars would slip through and it’s very embarrassing getting caught by the boss! Be kind to your boss, please!

    @Alex: Have you thought about moving by any chance?

  50. Ian says:

    PS I love the video of the stream. I’m a Piscean and love the water. Streams like that bring out the Christopher Robin in me.

    My watershed address would be quite similar:

    Three miles uphill from the Mersey river
    On the old lake bed
    Next to Sarah Pooley’s clock

  51. Ginjoint says:

    ‘Allo, Mary E. Glad you’re here.

    I liked the video of the babbling brook. Here in Chicago, we have our own version of that! It’s a branch of the Chicago River known as Bubbly Creek. Because…it’s so polluted, it…um…bubbles. Back in the day, it would actually catch fire.

    Well, it’s still pretty polluted, but not as bad as it once was. O.K., please pardon me while I hide my face in mortification.

  52. Alex says:

    @ Ian: Yes, I’ve contemplated moving; however, lack of financial resources leaves me stuck here in a somewhat upscale ghetto. After I typed my earlier post, I realized one very cool site visible from my front door: Book Woman, Texas’ oldest feminist bookstore. Woo hoo! And it’s a mere 50 feet from my front door! I’m grateful to live so close to such an awesome retail establishment as Book Woman. In fact, I purchased my Essential DTWOF there back in November!

  53. Aunt Soozie says:

    Thanks Riotllama… you were here to represent… : )
    I don’t remember that either… but i do remember that there was a time at our girl scout camp, way back when, when we would separate our food scraps and a farmer would come pick them up to feed the pigs.
    Bean, you might wanna check out Holly’s site too… simply tossing food into your backyard isn’t the best of ideas…. you could get more than local doggies chowing at that buffet! You gotta have the right ingredients to make it compost, otherwise, it’s just rotting garbage… you know what I’m saying? A compost pile, properly tended, smells sweet… rotting garbage? smells like… uhm… rotting garbage and… again, can attract varmints. we had a neighbor who was “feeding the deer” by throwing food scraps into his yard. we got ground hogs. I happen to think ground hogs are adorable but I wasn’t too keen on attracting as many as possible into our yard…

  54. Aunt Soozie says:

    Lower Delaware Watershed! Fun website… I’m inspired. I love my watershed.

  55. Sam says:

    Alex – thanks for the kd lang mention. I bought the box version of watershed the day it came out! It’s not unrelated, really. It is a turning point – as all of this is a turning point in contemporary culture.

    We don’t live in a heavy composting area. May be the only ones in our little tucked away Pacific Ocean beach retreat who have a compost pit. Love it, though.

    And we are now eating first harvest of our neighbors bananas!

  56. Alex K says:

    @hairball / Aunt Soozie: Philadelphia’s garbage, as distinct from its rubbish, used to be separately collected and carted into South Jersey, where it was used as hogslop. That ended in the early 1960s.

  57. nyced says:

    I’ll take that as a no, the tabloid is not still available. 😉

    Thanks anyway.

  58. hairball_of_hope says:


    Stick around here, you’ll have a blast. Somewhere on this site are links to the entries that AB solicited for the “Daily Distress” tabloid you’re looking for (it was a contest for articles and ads which got the most incredibly creative responses). I happen to think some of the outtakes not used for the DD are even funnier than what made it in.

    @Alex K

    Thanks! That’s exactly what I was told about the separation of Philly garbage/rubbish, but not the reason behind it. Poor South Jersey, didn’t they have enough problems without importing hogslop? Swamp people and the devils that inhabit the Pine Barrens…

    Extra points to anyone who knows what “rubbing mud” is used for (it comes from South Jersey).

  59. hairball_of_hope says:


    Here are the links to the Daily Distress contest announcement, and the submissions/winners for ads and articles:

    Contest announcement:

    Contest winners (links to the submissions are at the top of the page):

    Have fun reading!

  60. hairball_of_hope says:

    Hey nyced, bear with me, I’m trying to get that info posted for you.

    Hmmm… wonder why my post with the links to the Daily Distress haven’t show up, it is still in blog limbo/purgatory.

    I think I understand how this works… posts that contain more than one hyperlink get blocked until personally blessed by Katie or AB. That would explain my my post with the links to the illegal DOJ Bush memoranda took days to show up, long after the message thread moved on to another round of bacon-inspired delirium.

    So, I’m going to try this again, one link at a time.

  61. hairball_of_hope says:

    @nyced, here’s the Daily Distress tabloid contest announcement:

  62. hairball_of_hope says:

    And here are the Daily Distress contest winners, the links to the submitted ads and articles are at the top of the page:

  63. hairball_of_hope says:

    Yaaay! That worked. And my fingers/brain are still disconnected. That’s supposed to be “why my”, not “my my”.

  64. nyced says:

    Yes I think this is probably the tabloid that was described (thank you)

    But this does not tell me how to get a copy (which I understood to be available on this website)

  65. Janet says:

    Try “by” instead of “next to” in your address — smoother on the tongue and metrically cleaner. (In fact, I’d go for “by the” rather than “by a,” but that changes the meaning slightly.)

  66. acilius says:

    @h_o_h 10:39am: Bacon? Did you say bacon? Mmmm…

  67. hairball_of_hope says:


    While AB and the gang yakked about the possibility of posting the DD as a downloadable .PDF file (see ), it appears that never happened. AB asked for help in converting it to .PDF (I’m volunteering now in case she doesn’t know how), but then she wrote, “…it’s kind of all about the newsprint…”

    Maybe that means she doesn’t want it in non-deadtree form?

    On another note, in researching the links for the DD, I reread all the posts about self-moderating one’s output on the blog. Oy, I’ve gone from a multi-year quiet lurker to a bigtime yenta in the past few weeks. I think I’ll have to shut up soon, before I suck all the oxygen out of the room.

  68. little gator says:

    As I learned it:

    Nobody loves me, everybody hates me,
    Guess I’ll go eat worms.
    Big fat juicy ones, little skinny slimy ones,
    Gosh how they wiggle and squirm.

    Bite their heads off, suck their juice out,
    Throw their skins away.

    Nobody knows how men can thrive on worms three times a day!

    And in an old Betty Boop cartoon she sings the song “They Always Pick on Me: which ends with:

    I know what I’ll do, by and by.
    I’ll eat some worms and then I’ll die.
    And they’ll all be sorry just you wait and see.
    They’ll all be sorry that they picked on me.

    mmmmm, now I’m hungry.

    Shall we have a scholarly discussion on the lyric variations of Great Green Gobs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts?

    Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts,
    Mutilated monkey meat,
    Dessicated birdie feet,
    All wrapped up in all-purpose porpoise pus,
    And i forgot my spoon!

    And I forgot my spoon, And I forgot my spoon,
    Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts,
    and I forgot my spoon.

    …But I got a fork!
    (slurpy noises.)

    Variant ending after porpoise pus
    “and wrapped up in pink lemonade!”

    Dont ask me how you wrap somethign in lemonade.

  69. --MC says:

    The Worm song .. there are as many variants on it as there are of “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” .. my own variant turned up as the text of a Gilbert Shelton cartoon, and ends:
    ..bite the heads off
    suck the juice out
    throw the skin away
    nobody knows how good we can live on
    worms three times a day.

    As regards Gary Snyder, K tells me her mom lived in a house full of poets in Portland, Oregon, in the late 50s, and Snyder was also a resident. He pissed her off mightily by climbing in a vent and sticking his head out of the bathroom heating grate while she was taking a bath.

  70. little gator says:

    and then there’s Jingle Bells, Santa smells, Rudolph ran away.”

    I dont remember the rest of it but my mother forbade us to sing it, beleiveing it would upset my younger siblings.

    So, does anyone remember the playground game/song called Rattlesnake?

    R, A, T,
    T, L, E,
    S-N-A-K-E spells rattlesnake!

  71. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L, see what you started here? A worm chorus!

    (Goes back to her feeble attempt at self-moderation)

  72. --MC says:

    “On the screen was a musical worm ..”

  73. Riotllama says:

    The version I learned was:
    Nobody likes me
    Ev’rybody hates me
    Guess I’ll go eat worms

    Long thin slimey ones
    Short fat Juicy ones
    Itsy-bitsy fuzzy-wuzzy worms

    Down goes the first one
    Down goes the second one
    Oh, how they wiggle and squirm

    Long thin slimey ones
    Short fat Juicy ones
    Itsy-bitsy fuzzy-wuzzy worms

    Up comes the first one
    Up comes the second one
    Oh how they wiggle and squirm!

    Long thin slimey ones
    Short fat Juicy ones
    Itsy-bitsy fuzzy-wuzzy worms.

    I was obsessed with local variants of hand clapping rhymes and that sort of thing in my younger days. If I’d stayed in school I might have done some Alan Lomax style thesis on it.

    RUBBING MUD- like for baseballs? from the river?

  74. Alex K says:


    To the tune of “I’m Getting Married in the Morning”, this German bit of nonsense —

    Hoerst Du die Regenwuermer hu-u-sten **koff koff**
    Als sie durchs dunkle Erdreich ziehn?

    Do you hear the earthworms coughing
    on their travels through the earth’s dark kingdom?

    It goes on, but we’re all best spared the remainder…

  75. hairball_of_hope says:

    Riotllama wins the prize! Yup, for baseballs. The only approved rubbing mud for baseballs comes from the muck of the Delaware River in South Jersey. It’s called “Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud”

    How it gets used it a bit gross, you have to spit in your palm, mix some of this mud in it, and rub the baseballs evenly until the slippery surface of the baseball cowhide cover is buffed away.

    The thankless job of rubbing up the baseballs falls to umpires, who do dozens of them at a time.

    In the words of the late, great Anna Russell, “I’m not making this up, you know!”

    De-clique-ification note to non-baseball aficionados/aficionadas (hate these gender-based terms, the world isn’t a binary either/or): Baseball is a game played with a thrown ball and hit with a wooden bat (amateur and college leagues play with the way more dangerous aluminum bat, but I digress). The game is derived from two English games that Commonwealth folks still play, cricket and rounders. The ball has a rubber-coated cork core, is wrapped with lots of yarn, and finished with a cowhide cover (it used to be horsehide) that is stitched by hand, often in sweatshops. North American Major League baseballs are all made in Costa Rica, but China makes the vast majority of baseballs in the world.

  76. judybusy says:

    @ Mary E and nyced: Welcome to our witty, smart, we’ve-always-got-something-to-say community!

    And to Churchy, way back in the first post in this comment section: the author of _The Earth Moved_ is Amy Stewart. If anyone’s interested in learning more about worms and composting with them, this is a readable, entertaining book.

    She has written three other books, one about the cut flower industry (_Flower Confidential_) and one about creating her garden (_From the Ground Up_.) Her fourth is due out in May and is about poisonous plants (_Wicked Plants_) She also blogs on Garden Rant( and her own gardening blog, and is a painter. By happy coincidence, I just sent a check to her today for a lovely little painting of eggplants. Her work is quite affordable and charming. As you can see, my admiration for her is vast!

    Here is her site:

  77. Feminista says:


    I feel witty,oh so witty
    That the city should give me its key
    And so witty,that I hardly can believe
    I’m real (la la la la la la la-la-la-la)

    (My variation of “I feel pretty” sung by Maria in West Side Story)

    Indeed,we are an erudite,articulate,thought-provoking,funny and supportive community.

  78. hairball_of_hope says:

    It must be Spring after all… we’re all singing. We survived Winter.

  79. judybusy says:

    Oh, I forgot to say that back in 1990, when I lived in Madison, WI, my upstairs neighbor had a cat named Winooski. Yep, I remember the cat’s name, but not the neighbor’s–she was from VT. He was a big orangey tom, which may have inspired my adoption some years later of a big, orange cat with the best tail in the world. He says hai.

    HOH: I can’t believe how different I feel since DLS time and warm temps here. Last Wednesday morning: –22 below windchill. Sunday night: sleeping with windows open. Crazy!

  80. Andrew B says:

    I’ve been holding off on this because I was feeling guilty about my shameless amplification of Ian’s shameless hijack of a post that had nothing to do with The Wizard of Oz or American prairie populism. But the many interesting versions of the worm song have given me courage.

    People who are interested in populist politics and/or racism really should take a look at Baum’s infamous editorials. They’re very short. They are available here in pdf format. If your browser can’t handle pdf, google “Baum Sioux editorial”. The above page should be at the top of Google’s list. Click on “View as HTML” to have Google show you the page as a regular web page.

    Acilius, thanks for telling us about this. I hadn’t known it before.

  81. Andrew B says:

    Nuts, I screwed up that link. I’ll fix it in just a moment…

  82. Anonymous says:

    @ Andrew B: These are truly horrific. Is there any chance that they were meant sarcastically, ala Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal”?

  83. Andrew B says:

    I am sorry. Baum editorials.

  84. Andrew B says:

    you must all be getting sick of this

    Alison, feel free to delete my screw ups if you wish. Is there any way the blog software could be configured to stop assuming URLs are local if no protocol is specified but a server is specified? Also, could it be configured to allow us to preview posts? That way we’d have a chance of catching our mistakes before we waste everybody’s time.

    If I screw this up again I won’t try to correct it — I think most of you can figure out where I was trying to point you.

  85. Heidi says:

    Alex, I’m a little disturbed to hear that you saw a crack deal go down right outside your door, since I live a mere two miles north of you. Actually, I used to live right there, too, in the apartments behind Dan’s Hamburgers. Still, I love this neighborhood, and it’s an easy bike ride to Bookwoman.

    There was a great debate in one of my history classes as to whether Wizard of Oz was really meant to be an allegory about the gold standard, or if was just a simple children’s story that others reinterpreted to mean something more. From what I have read, Baum himself claimed that it was purely meant as fantasy and had no political meaning. I read the whole series of books when I was a kid, but now I don’t remember any of it.

    I do enjoy Gregory Maguire’s Oz-related books, though.

  86. Blushing Girl says:

    In the Bodega Bay watershed,
    peering into the San Andreas Fault,
    surrounded by owls.

  87. Maggie Jochild says:

    Hey Bodega Bay watershed, I used to go to the Audubon Canyon Ranch and hike up to look down into the great blue heron nesting sites atop trees next to the cliff, right there near where you are. I bet those owls cause headaches for great blue heron parents of fuzzy chicks.

  88. Kat says:

    I bet you hiked right past my grandma on one of those walks. She loves the Audubon Canyon Ranch, and spent a lot of time there in her walking/hiking days. She I used to love looking through her Audubon book of all the birds…..

    My watershed sounds so boring compared to the rest of y’all’s….San Pablo Bay