Monday, January 3, 2011

Composting Workshop at Simple Living Institute

An account by Lars Paul Linden

I hacked at the rotting fruit. The tool was a sharp blade, curved like a crescent. Others in the workshop hacked along side me. We chopped up big leaves and the leave's woody stems. In this we added another layer; we were making a compost pile. With each layer that we added, we learned a little more about composting. I observed varying colors and textures, all quite beautiful. The hacking motions were rhythmic and satisfying, and somehow rambunctious.
The compost pile was rectangular, and grew
to over 18 inches in height. I easily imagined the pile several months later, in a flattened state, almost as if it was a balloon and the air was being
let out. I had already seen how compost piles shrink over a span of months. I speculated that each blade of grass would loose its ability to hold a shape, and th
at the decay is a kind of given up of the shape of life. I thought of the microorganisms that I am told are there in the comp
ost pile, and I imagined how the microorganism were aiding this collapse.

as I am eager for advanced knowledge of organic gardening, I am in no hurry. I relish in my recent and newly found simple ideas. The compost pile is filled with life. The compost pile is alive. For me, this idea requires knowledge, but also perhaps some imagination. My new friends, microorganisms, are in there. By habit I think of a metaphor that they have little microorganism homes and little microorganism communities. I desire to know their names and to see them under magnification; however, at the workshop I thought mostly about the the differing colors of each layer.
A group of us, under Tia Meer's instruction, layered the palm branches, busted fruits, leaves, and grass. The vegetation looked partly woody and partly moist. I knew that it would all yield to the processes of decomposition. Perhaps, it was already changing colors under the Florida sun as we added each layer.

I report now these colors: green-browns and brown-greens, yellow-oranges and orange-yellows. Each layer was different. Some of us took photos, and surely these could be cropped to be expressions of abstraction. A photo of a compost pile is a kind of abstract art.

Volcanic ash was sprinkled on top, to season the compost. While I am not sure, I think we collectively made a small prayer, each in our own way, to all compost piles. Together we had created a simple compost pile and it was a beautiful sight, the compost pile and us standing there admiring it. The next day it occurred to me that the compost pile is a kind of opposite of the garden itself.

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