This winter has hardly been bleak here in the northeastern U.S. Temperatures fluctuate into spring weather every few days, and I spied some green shoots (crocuses? daffodils?) poking up by the side of the house a month and a half early. I heard the weather woman say we’ve had a mere 7.5 inches (19.05cm) of snow this winter — down from last year’s abundant 60+ inches (1.5+ m).
It’s not glum here, not really. It’s the dearth of growing things that makes the winter gray. And this teasing, unseasonable warmth! I can’t bear to think that planting season won’t start for another two months.
Then I remembered my compost last week, that glorious bin of kitchen waste that is turning into black gold over rotations of earth and sky. It is superb.
I had forgotten it because, with three of us in the house and occasional contributions from the neighbors, my bin became too wet. I added leaves and shredded brown paper when I could, but couldn’t keep up with the amount of kitchen scraps we add daily. The compost was rotting. I didn’t want to look at another lifeless object, especially one under my care that should have been growing and changing into beautiful dirt.
And then one golden day, a kind soul on Craigslist posted free sawdust from his furniture making shop, unadulterated and in large quantities. It was just what I needed. I emailed him immediately, and then tricked Mr. Savvy into driving out and carrying three enormous trash barrel sized bags of sawdust back to the car. Three! I couldn’t stop giggling. Moving each bag was like trying to carry a slippery, unruly chub of a dog.
We came home. My eyes may have been bigger than my stomach because one bag of sawdust filled the compost bin to the brim. Don’t tell Mr. Savvy.
Over the next month, the compost bin grew alive. It was no longer a pile of wet, stinking vegetables that froze every night as temperatures dipped. It became something warm and sweet smelling. The sawdust settled as we mixed in more banana peels and eggshells and coffee grounds and onion skins. The pile is doing what it promised: changing from garbage to earth before my eyes. It is beautiful.
My compost’s life cycle is slow. As I watch and wait for it with the patience of a tender young plant, I realize it satisfies my yearning for growth and life — yes, even in the dead of winter.
©2012 at Simple Savvy, the simple living blog where my neighbor caught just as I was photographing the compost bin, but luckily he knows me too well to think anything strange about it.