Saturday, January 29, 2011


The moon must still be in deep-feeling Scorpio.  JOTS is comfortably asleep on the slantboard, Pete is in the vardo in exactly that same place.  I've been asleep earlier in the cycle of things.  It's very early morning here in the forest.  The dark sky hiding the stars brought instead a fine mist of rain.  Tucked under the ease of the quonset I sat with a hot mug of water and felt the all.

We have received news from home that unsettled me.  Even though I'd already been alerted by the stars of the possibility, I am human with a gigantic capacity for feeling or feeding on feelings so you could say I'm composting.  Sitting outside, the rain gently caressed.  It's easy to be in prayer when the darkness is sweet and the quiet a soft companion. 

Distance becomes less physical when I am being with all of it, comfortable with the present the grief of vulnerability moves and that is good.  The thick soft cotton pancho kept me warm and dry, the
 air precious I felt thoughts rising or digesting and it was worms that came to mind.  Compost, worms, composting worms.

Back inside the quonset, the laptop took me here to string together these musings about Compost:

First,  a few WORM FACTS
Earth workers work at depths in the soil. They generally move and create burrows in a horizontal fashion but may come to the surface to gather food, hence distributing surface nutrients to various depths. Often quite large, their burrows channel water and air well below the topsoil. While earth workers have an important role in the soil, they are not suitable in your compost.

What you need are compost worms. These worms thrive in a rich environment and usually live near the surface creating burrows vertically between the surface litter and the safety zone of the soil under.

The conditions you need in your compost are simply the appropriate safety zone, breeding conditions, moisture and predator protection for worms that will thrive on the varied diet of domestic waste.

Worms are basically a very efficient digestive tube. Food (your waste) goes in one end and comes out the other as plant food (castings). They have no eyes, ears or nose but a rather large, toothless mouth which inverts itself over a piece of food, then retracts to push the food directly into the digestive system.
Worms have an in-built ability to sustain the optimum population according to the available food and space. While conditions are right, they will breed at full potential until the desired food and space ratio is reached. This is an excellent scenario in a compost situation as the more food you add, the more they populate.
A worm's circulatory system is controlled by several simple hearts pumping blood to a ventral vessel, a dorsal vessel and capillaries. They have a very sensitive nervous system of which the setae are major sensors and a tiny, insignificant brain.

Although their anatomy is very simple, worms are one of the strongest animals on Earth for their size and have been around for 600 million years!


Next, a bit of Synthesis (human compost)

All this thinking about worms came about after Pete returned from volunteering at our local food bank garden.  It's a beautifully abundant garden and part of a wonderfull example of community sustaining in practice.  Good Cheer, it does indeed provide that!  Talk of the early gardening chores turned to working with the worm bins.  Sorting through the compost, the worms have done their work on some of it (creating casting) and then there is more food yet to be digested.  Not all the food the worms digest is 'organic'.  No, it's not.

We personally have chosen to eat organic.  Philosophy and anatomically, we need to eat food that is not pesticide or genetically tinkered.  The question of the worms' food was raised, and the answer was something like, no worries ... they're (the worms) such efficient digesters they do the deed and there you go.  I'm not so sure they can transmute pesticides or do something with potentially genetically modified food, but then maybe they can.  Consider this:  "Although their anatomy is very simple, worms are one of the strongest animals on Earth for their size and have been around for 600 million years!"

Worms have been around to digest Earth and the multiple variations of food.  We human are infant in terms of their food providers, and yet how old are pesticides and genetic tinkerings?  I marvel at what happens when the stars, the darkness and a bit of grief can do to the anatomy of an elder with her walking stick primed for exploration.  I thrive on connecting seemingly unconnectable threads, and recall Lowly Worm, a character from Richard Scarry books read with my son when he was a tiny boy.  I can not be sure but I bet Lowly Worm had a "circulatory system controlled by several simple hearts pumping with a very sensitive nervous system..." He was a character memorable after all these years, who wouldn't be with several simple hearts pumping in one small body!

 Life from the quonset on this early morning Saturday in late January seems a perfect environment for compost.

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