One of the best, most desired gifts I received this year during the holidays was a box to hold garbage.
I know, you’re all wondering if I’ve accidentally held my head in the oven too long whilst last cleaning it or, if finally, all those heavily scented, potentially carcinogenic candles from Bath and Body Works that I sniff on an hourly basis to keep me meditatively peaceful have created some cognitive disorder, but I assure, neither have occurred.
That said, my new container truly has me skipping about with a euphoric outlook because Rumpelstiltskin—my big new bucket—turns garbage into gold.
That’s right you clever clogs, I finally got a compost bin.
For the last two months I have been studying everything for its C/N ratio. It’s a beautiful formula for anyone growing closer to ditching their tax ID and social security number to live off the grid, or serial killers studying John Wayne Gacy and making mental notes as to how to improve on his form.
Decomposition can be deadly, but also beautiful. Therefore, for true success, one must know any material’s carbon to nitrogen proportions.
I promise this is not a lesson in organic chemistry, but who doesn’t love the idea of your old food making your new food?
Apparently, most people coming to my house.
Yes, I know, a good chunk of folks visiting my little log lodge leave less than stellar reviews when they begin to realize that a stay with me means you’ll likely be too cold or too hot, there’s a fair to middling chance you may get a teeny touch of dysentery because comestible manufacturer’s expiration dates on packages in the fridge are bogus, and you’ll need to memorize a list of things that go into a) the recycling bin, b) the compost bin, and c) the landfill bin.
The latter is highly discouraged and comes with a free set of annoying questions wondering if we might find another use for that object and an array of facial expressions that clearly cast doubt on whether you’ve truly watched any documentary of Greta Thunberg like you promised you did.
No judgement. She’s not for everyone.
But it’s plain to see I’ve now upped my game in the kitchen. A massive stock pot sits on the counter and is the receptacle to all things that will fortify my soil, enrich my diet, and likely cure cancer. The timeline is somewhat futuristic with each addition, but I’m in it for the long haul.
Basically, I have a new job. I now tell people that I am a terra firma farmer. A sod shaman. A ground grower. An anthrosol alchemist. Maybe the last one goes a bit over the edge, but you get my point. I’m harvesting dirt.
Into the stock pot go greens and browns. Everything from vegetable peels to coffee grounds are tossed in with delight. Egg shells, fruit, tea bags and olive pits. Pumpkins, tofu, peanut shells, and potato eyes. Old paper napkins? In they go. Q-tips and chopsticks? Join your friends. Pencil shavings and Ugg boot fluffage? Step right up and dive right in. Once that pot is chock-a-block full, they’re dumped into that beautiful new spinnable bin outside.
These are just your Joe-Average bits and bobs that fall under the category of acceptable, but Google appears to understand that nearly every day I start a fresh search with my standard question of “Can I put (insert questionable item) into my compost bin?”
So along with the above, I’m tossing in lint and dust bunnies, old match sticks and house plants (RIP, I swear I tried), holey wool socks and burlap sacks. I’m drawing the line at nail clippings. Just can’t do it.
Of course, there’s all the outdoor additions—the leaves, the grass, the weeds, and twigs. Pine cones, and bird’s nests (once they’re done with them), sawdust, and straw. I am finding it all. Picking it up, shoving it in, and swirling it about.
I’m sure my family thinks I’m losing a few more marbles because it then appears that I’m having a conversation with my compost pile, but obviously, they have no idea that I’ve popped in a handful of hardworking worms and are simply offering a few words of encouragement. It’s not like I’m talking to the bacteria or fungi, as that would be ridiculous.
We all know that fungal intelligence is geared more toward spatial recognition and memory, so I just leave them Post-it notes as reminders of where they are and what to do. Duh.
And now I churn, I peek, I poke, and wait.
I check temperatures, humidities, pH balances, and take weekly requests for movie night.
If I find a worm on the ground, I give him a noble Roman name and introduce him to the giant Saturnalia party where all his soon to be friends are closely gathered in the vomitorium.
This huge metropolis is teeming with life and death and decay–microbes, mites, nematodes, and invertebrates.
I encourage gluttony, as they are only doing their job.
I nurture meaningless affairs because reproduction is critical.
I tell heroic stories of their ancestors—those who have cleaned up polluted spill sites and made communities safe to live in again, or of those who went into medicine and actually became medicine.
I inspire futuristic dreams of outrageous proportions. Fungi? You are capable of becoming buildings and replacing concrete. Bacteria? You can become biofuels or gobble up greenhouse gases. Worms? A growing number of people find that it is equally as important to save one of you as it is to save a panda.
I tell my new friends who are feasting on these precious scraps the same thing: You is kind, you is smart, you is important.
I’m hoping they will remain as down to earth as I know them all to be. I am rooting for them because I know them all now. I be-leaf in them, and I feel like we are soil-mates.
Okay, maybe, just maybe, I have held my head in the oven too long.
But even if everyone around is begging me to stop with the wordplay and move away from the compost, I will only agree to drop the puns because I’m keeping my ground.
Happy dirt season!
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Don’t forget to check out what’s cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all gossiped about down in the pub. Or check out last month’s post and catch up.