Tuesday, April 20, 2010

mound of earth

Pretty, huh? After a year and a half my compost can was full so I dumped it out into a hole my kids had dug in the yard. It didn't smell very bad, I think it's nearly done, I can't recognize anything besides the egg shells, some of which are now rubbery to the touch. It will continue to cook in its hole now, where it's easier for me to stir it up.

I'd been sick for about 3 weeks with a malicious cold when I decided to get out and turn this soil out of its can, though I still felt fairly sick. When I came in from heaving this around and aerating the can's contents I felt remarkably better. Perhaps it was the exercise. Perhaps it was the breath of the earth. As I later read here one old world minister, Methodist Divine John Wesley, counseled consumptives to breathe into a hole cut into the earth daily*. Later scientists would find the cure for tuberculosis in chemicals synthesized by Streptomyces microbes in soil along with the makings of many other varieties of antibiotics including penicillin. It seems Wesley intuitively knew the pharmaceutical promise held by (untainted) earth.

It's been such a pleasure to make this soil, to husband this mound of earth. I know I won't save the earth this way, but I feel it has blessed me, at least. How God must love dirt, the raw material of all this infinitely abundant earthly beauty. How odd it is that so many people take antibiotics every day, medicines that often save their lives, without ever knowing where they come from.

*William Bryant Logan, Dirt, The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth.p.152