October 14, 2007
One fall day several years ago, I was coming back from a walk in the woods when I looked up at our roof and noticed that it was covered with bits of fruit: cantelope rinds, orange peels, apple cores, the kind of stuff that one might normally find in a compost pile. At first, I imagined that a large bird had flown straight out of a Dr. Seuss book to raid our compost pile and carry things up to the roof. Then I glanced at the footprints in the mud and realized that the culprits were probably the mammals that were asleep on the floor of my living room. When questioned, the gang of boys in the house said, yes, they'd invented a new game. They were using giant slingshot to fling items from the compost pile clear over our two-story house.
"Don't worry, " one of my sons assured me. "It's all biodegradable."
The episode came back to me today, when I was cleaning the front porch. One of the pumpkins I'd bought at a farmstand, a big pumpkin that seemed perfect for a jack-o-lantern, had succumbed to the unseasonably warm weather and collapsed into a soggy mess. Without giving it much thought, I tossed the whole thing into the compost pile and dumped water on the porch to get rid of all the pumpkin juice.
Boy in Black, who was home for the weekend, came in a few minutes later.
Boy in Black: Hey, where did the pumpkin go?
Me: The soggy one?
Boy in Black: Yeah.
Me: I tossed it in the compost pile.
Boy in Black: What? You threw it out?
Me: Were you going to use it for something?
Boy in Black: Uh, not exactly.
He looked like he was about to say something, and then stopped. I could sense his frustration: what do you do with a mother who did not see the fun possibilities in a large rotting pumpkin, who would just carelessly toss it aside? He looked at me kindly, the way you'd look at a small child who simply can't grasp a complex concept, shook the hair out of his face, and continued on his way.
Posted by jo(e)