August 15 2006
Three glorious days off. Add the weekend, and I get five! What have I been doing? Shifting the compost! I've taken the compost of the last 12 months, a potent half brewed mix of weeds, kitchen slops and unmentionables, and shifted it about 10 feet into the second year bin. Turning it over aids the breakdown; next season I will have barrow loads of rich soil to add to the veggie patch.
Shifting two or three cubic metres of muck, with added in layers of loam has been a back-breaking, and yet oddly enjoyable task. Along with the mould and the stink come old avocado stones, which sit untouched through twelve months and come out healthy and ready to germinate! (I also found the missing plug from the kitchen sink.) The striking thing is the slowness of the task. There is no front end loader. I don't have fancy green, almost antiseptic compost barrels to turn; it's a matter of raking out the sticks and weeds that won't fork up, and tossing them over by hand. And then forking up half caramelised silage that resists with a shoulder wrenching suck and finally, shovelling over dry and dusty pockets of the heap. Wet down the layers, add a bit of loam, and start the whole process over again.
While this has been happening the hose has been dribbling around the base of the trees in the back yard. Half an hour each, very slow, at the end of the driest winter since 1913. I've "rested" from the shovelling, by chipping out marshmallow weed from the vegetable patch, and adding it to the compost. Which is all a huge change from daily life, where sweat is forbidden, where we drive computers in Perth, Melbourne and Auckland, plus half a dozen Adelaide suburbs in the one day, where efficiency and speed is king. To return to the speed at which we first began, to be physically stretched, and dusty, and have a dehydration headache... it's all a welcome caress of the soul.
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