North San Juan, California, 1980s.
Of all the vegetables in our garden, we were proudest of our tomatoes, which grew in columns seven feet tall made of construction wire, the heavy gauge stuff with the six inch squares. The Sweet One Hundreds seldom got to three feet, but sometimes the Early Girls and the Early Boys made it all the way to the top.
We loved our tomatoes, but so did the horn worms. We usually treated the annual horn worm infestation with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and, at need, hand picked them. I found hand picking difficult because the worms were so exactly the color of the plant they were devouring that I couldn't see one unless I got it stuck up my nose.
One fine day I found a horn worm right in front of me, practically begging, “Please pick me and feed me to your chickens.” He was the biggest horn worm I have ever seen, He would have been Mothzilla if I hadn't picked him.
I threw him into the chicken pen and a big red hen rushed up to eat him. But the worm reared up and clacked! I didn't know they could make a sound, but this guy did. He made himself as big and as loud as he could. The chicken slammed on her binders and retreated momentarily.
But she recovered her composure and ate the horn worm. The worm had no chance, but he gave it his very best shot. I learned something from that. Even when all is lost, when your cause is hopeless, when you have no chance in Heaven or Hell, you can still go out with style.
You can always show class. Even if you're only a worm.