April 20, 2011

Compost magic and happiness

April 20, 2011 - Categories: gardening, life

The compost heap steamed in the afternoon sun. “I’d never seen it do that before,” said W-. Neither had I. The compost heap was merrily breaking down organic matter. We knew the theory, but it was incredibly satisfying to see it in practice.

I’d turned the compost last week, layering carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich material and liberally sprinkling the compost accelerator W- had wanted to try out. The compost had been unremarkable last week, but now there were earthworms squirming through it – good-sized ones too, not just the baby earthworms I’d seen the other day. The compost pile smelled earthy but clean, even citrus-y, thanks to the grapefruit peels from our kitchen. It was a good pile, and it would be a great amendment to the sandy soil of our back yard.

I probably don’t need to turn the compost heaps weekly, but I enjoy doing it when the weather is mild. It’s exercise, it gets me out in the garden, and it’s part of the cycle of life. It’s good to see our kitchen scraps return to the soil, and to know that the compost will support this season’s plants. But there’s more to it than that – there’s more value to it than simply the physical or horticultural benefits.

It feels like such an improbable joy. It’s this awareness, I think, that makes it easy to be happy. Everyday activities become special because of the stories along the way. This compost heap has memories from kitchen, garden, and love, and it will take all of that and make something new.