And I've never been so humbled in my life.
For three to six hours a day - sometimes twice a day - this past-middle aged couple digs in the flats (the part of the ocean revealed when the tide recedes) for worms. They spread their legs a bit and bend over, using a long-tined fork to turn over the mud and find the worms. Sometimes they are working mid-day, other times at the crack of dawn. Sometimes they have to use the headlights of their car to illuminate the mud. It all depends on the time of the tides.
They get 24 cents for each worm, which are frozen and shipped by dealers to Europe as bait or food for shrimp farms.
This couple does this back breaking work 12 months a year = snow, sleet, rain, hot sun.
When they arrived at our meeting place in their car, there were three people, a dog and their weeks' laundry in the tiny sedan. The back window was shattered out when they tried to load a sofa they found on the side of the road onto the car. The left front blinker cover had been replaced with duct tape and a plastic milk jug. They laughed about it and called the battered car their "mud buggy."
They have so little, so incredibly little, and even what they have is worn and tattered and of a quality that you or I might toss away.
Yet they are so blissfully happy doing this hard, dirty work.
"I have freedom," the woman said.
"I am my own boss," the man said.
They get to see eagles, ospreys, deer, sea life and their view "at the office" is most days breathtaking. They laugh easily and speak to each other with kindness. Recently they took $150 that was meant to fix the car and exchanged it for a small dog that was being abused.
I spent several hours with them and walked away jealous.
Not of their possessions, but of their peaceful view of life, of the world, of their values. Of the way they put their own needs secondary to a little dog that was suffering. Jealous of the simplicity of their work, of their world. Of their ability to find the beauty, the joy and the laughter in their tiny corner of Maine.
We should all be so lucky.
And so I offer a toast to Anna and Dickey, who taught me a lot more this morning than how to dig worms.