Article ID: 13232
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,695
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Author: Gaia Ivorywitch [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: April 19th. 2009
Times Viewed: 1,779
The stench of rot assails my nostrils as I heave and push the cart towards my destination. Flies, deprived of their meal, circle me but eventually lose interest. As I trundle out to the edge of the woods, I look up, my eyes searching. The Owl usually appears in the time just before the light fades completely. I hear the call, and hoot softly back, mimicking, still unsure of the reception. Again the call comes, closer this time.
I wait, silently, hoping for the windy sweep of huge silent wings to grace my field of vision. Not tonight though. Owl was out there, somewhere, but something else had proven more interesting than the crazy human lady who tried to talk to him. I say him, but I have no idea the sex of the Owl, just that it comes, and goes, silently, majestically, leaving me awed in its wake. Apparently knowing the flight patterns and timing and a fair turn at mimickery isn’t enough.
Owl does not appear.
I set about my work. Shoving and lifting and transferring the oozing mass of rotting kitchen offal into the waiting bed of seething organisms of decay. I see that the recent dry spell has given the ants an opportunity. They heave and slide in exorbitantly precise mounds of legs carrying the pupae of their nursery to safety. Ants are necessary, as necessary as flies in the grand scheme of decay and breaking down of matter into the gold that will tease the green things from the soil of my garden.
My hands are sweating inside my gloves and my hair streams into my eyes with the sweat of my exertion. It isn’t that hot really. Not that humid either. But I can feel the straining muscle behind my ribs and the burning in my upper chest that say it is still too much for them. I pause to rest again. Gasping now, cursing the childhood of second hand cigarette smoke that left me with permanently scarred lungs and full blown COPD by age 28.
I resume my work. The quicker I get it over with the quicker I can get back inside to rest.
There is rain in the western part of the state tonight, pushing the low-pressure system hovering over our area. Somewhere up in the Dakotas a river has burst its banks, defying man’s control with his dams. But the winds and storm fronts will eventually wind their way downwards, south, and east to meet the burgeoning storm fronts ahead of the Gulf Stream, the storm to the west poised to lash the valley here in east Tennessee.
I briefly wondered about my friends scattered about the country. And of still others I’ve never met but know live close to the wall of water or the areas where floodwaters threaten. All that water will evaporate and combine to bring much needed rain again, this time to me and my garden. The sacrifice of others’ possessions to the storms and flood waters will yield precious moisture that will allow my spring garden to sprout, and we would have carrots, potatoes, onions, and lettuces into the early winter if I were vigilant and didn’t’ give up. Remembering what goes into the storms that water my garden serves to remind me to be grateful and work harder for the bounty they bring me and mine.
I chuckle to myself. It is painfully obvious how little it takes to make me give up. A failing body that cannot keep up with the mind that never stops. Yeah, I am the picture of the conscientious gardener. But still, my efforts now, all the wheezing and gasping for air, are MY sacrifice for the bounty that will hopefully grace my table later. A fair trade I suppose, then again, measured against the cost of the water, perhaps not.
I cannot yet see the New Moon. But I can already feel the shift in the tide, the pull of electric energy that the lunar body pulls from the Earth and Her humans. Soon the soil will fill with fluids drawn up and outward by the movements of the Moon. A marvelous symphony of movement, that. We are ever at the beck of the Moon, always dancing to Her rhythms, consciously or not.
My task complete, I find there is not enough of the previously rotted material to cover the new mound of fresh decaying material. I pull the cart behind me over to the drive where a decaying pile of dried mulberry and maple catkins and small twigs waits its turn to become compost. Bit by bit, I shovel it into the cart, careful to get every last scoop available. Then back over to the pile, spreading the drying material over the wet, oozing mass of glabrous decay, covering the odor with its dryness, yet feeding the ever - revolving cycle as well.
We are compost, I think. Or we should be.
I briefly marvel at the brilliant red of the rotted tomatoes against the duns and browns and blacks of other materials – such a vibrant, living red. The green of cornhusks are yellowed and mushy, already they are breaking down; taking their place in the chemical process that is decay. When we die, our body should do this too. But we are so obsessed with living forever that we drain the fluids that would feed that process and replace them with toxins that, while preserving the body, will eventually pollute the soil around it, regardless of the lead vaults that might contain it.
I see the hair from the last vacuum cleaner bag, protein, slower to break down, food for the tenuous stalks of the green things it will later give birth to. Eggshells, cracked but still discernible, like our bones, that linger after the flesh has gone, but eventually they too will dry and burn in the sun until they are ash. Again, feeding the never - ending cycle of decay and rebirth. Death is easily welcomed and encouraged here in the compost pile. It is part of the life of the green things. It is part of the Circle of Life.
We humans keep trying to separate ourselves from that cycle. This is a mistake, I think. We tend to forget, in our search for ‘ethical’ diets, that the green things are living beings too, just as much as the animals with faces and legs. To ignore any part of the bounty available to us, to me, seems ungrateful, sacrilegious - almost.
Amid the wars and political games, the devastation of natural disasters and the everyday activity of the workaday world, compost continues, just like the Moon in Her phases. Ever evolving, changing, growing full and green and dying back and drying out to become fodder for the next cycle of green. Sometimes I wish I could fast forward to the new, nubile body awaiting me in the next life, with strength enough to care for this land that I am charged with caring and nurturing.
The bullfrogs are deafening. The cart empty once again, I wheel it back to where it lives, with the tools replaced in their slots, removing my gloves at last and pushing the hair and sweat from my eyes. I take a deep breath, somewhat ragged breath and let it out.
As I turn to go inside, done for the night, I hear the call of the Owl, and shiver.
Copyright: Gaia Ivorywitch, 2008, 2009
Location: Danvers, Massachusetts
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