Years ago I lived out away from nearly everything and everybody, on a small, wooded acreage in rural Oklahoma. On any clear night, I could step outside my door and look straight up to see the Milky Way sprawl across the sky, like white smoke from a nearby campfire wafting over my house.
I had to give up a few modern conveniences to enjoy this experience, but even the sacrifices of living almost-off-the-grid brought their own rewards. For one thing, I acquired some handy skills: Because winter storms would sometimes lead to power outages, I learned to cut and split my own firewood so I could warm the entire home with more comfortable radiant heat. And because there’s no garbage man in the sticks, I discovered the joys of composting.
Fruit and vegetable trimmings, coffee grounds and egg shells, in fact anything that was once alive, can go into a compost heap. In a matter of weeks this once smelly, kitchen garbage magically transforms into dark, earthlike organic matter to enrich the soil of a garden or even potted plants.
Today I live in a suburb of Dallas, with regular pick-up of not only trash but also recyclables, and yet I still love to keep a compost heap. And I have to confess I’ll probably continue to do so whether or not I have a garden or potted plants. There’s something I find fascinating about witnessing the alchemy of organic decay, when something as useless and gross as a banana peel can become life-sustaining.