Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hurray for a stinkin' mess

During the winter, I call a moratorium on composting. Too cold, too icy, and too snowy to hazard the trek around the corner of the house to the compost bin. Besides, by fall, the bin is so full to the brim that it's difficult to jam on the lid and, when you're successful, the seal freezes shut.

The last few days have been warm--in the low 50s. Anticipation of spring has me back turning the pile. The top foot has thawed but below is stiff with ice crystals.

My biggest challenge is always to find a source for the carboniferous browns with which to balance the abundance of nitrogen-rich green kitchen scraps. Unfortunately, fallen leaves are seasonal. So, I've tried shredded newspaper and seaweed. Both take years, it seems, to break down. I add a few cups of fireplace ashes for potassium.

I used to compost the hair that I'd cut as family barber. Is that weird? Probably. The thought of literally going back to nature was appealing but the unanticipated sight of blond locks among the banana peels and apple cores became too jarring.

Yes, it's difficult to make decay look pretty, but I'll close with a lovely excerpt from "Compost" by local poet, Sophie Wadsworth.

Forever becoming
something else,
yet you are yourself exactly:
raw, hot at the core,
black at the bottom.
Now a year of deadness
surges all green and sugar
into the teeth of the corn.

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