Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Last month I wrote about my project to clear out our backyard. You've probably lost a lot of sleep since then, wondering how it's going. Get ready for some good snoozing, because here's your BACKYARD UPDATE, EXTREME STYLE!*

Here's the "before" picture that I posted last month:

Here's the... well, it's not an "after" picture. It's more like a "during" picture.

You see what's missing from the bottom picture? Correct! Most of the plants! I've spent many hours over the last month chopping, cutting, snipping, snapping, sawing, and most importantly, chipping.

As you may recall, the only way to my backyard is through my house (through my new family room, up the stairs, through the living room, through the dining area, down the hallway, and out the front door) So, if I were to try and get rid of all these chopped down plants, I'd have to bag them up, and then drag all those bags through most of my house. That sounded unwieldy, so I bought me a chipper.

You can see my chipper in the bottom picture, at the far end of the backyard on the right-hand side. It's lovingly covered by a weber grill cover. That blue tarp behind it covers my compost pile. Under the tarp is about 90% of the plants that you don't see in the bottom picture. They chipped down to a small fraction of their original size.

I LOVE chipping up my garden. I'm gardening AND destroying things at the same time. I never knew gardening could be so satisfying. It's loud and destructive and makes me feel like a man almost as much as those naughty pictures that I've heard about on the Internet.

Every time I see a branch lying on the side of the road, I assess it for it's chippability. When we saw lush tropical patches of foliage in Kauai, I drooled at all the chipping potential.

"Goddamn," I'd whisper under my breath, "I could so chip that. I'd chip the hell out of that wetland."

(Note to self, in addition to rooster killing tools, and Google, also bring chipper on next trip to Kauai. (Oh, and by the way, because I am an idiot, my post about the Kauai chickens never made it to the top of the blog. If you missed it, please make with the clicky clicky.))

Anyway, now I've got an ever growing compost pile under that tarp. At first I was happy to shovel my wood chips and shredded leaves in there, but then, after it failed to turn into rich dark soil within days, I became impatient. I googled about compost piles and learned that I needed more "green" stuff (like fruit and vegetable scraps) to balance out all the dry leaves and wood. I needed to keep it moist and tend to it. It needed tender loving care, and who better than me to apply that?

Now, I'm obsessed with my compost pile. I squeal with glee each time a vegetable goes bad in our refrigerator and we need to dump it. I wriggle with excitement each evening when I get to dump my coffee grounds into the compost bucket I keep under the kitchen sink. And I've been eating way more oranges and bananas than usual, just for the joy of tossing their peels into my bucket.

You may be asking yourself at this point, "Why does he need all this goddamn compost?"

Good question. I've been asking myself that very thing for weeks now. What am I going to do with all this stuff? I don't like gardening. I'm not particularly interested in growing anything in particular.

Is it just the joy of making something useful from nothing? Is the satisfaction of knowing that I'm taking scraps and garbage and making something ecologically sound with it in my own backyard? A small bit of environmentalism in the big city?

I think that's not it.

I think I just can't wait to grow something new, and then kill it and chip it.

The circle of life is a joyous thing.

* Extremism not included


Will said...

I guess it's a good thing that big things don't fit in the chipper?

Mike said...

Mention a chipper and everyone thinks of Fargo. I wonder if that movie improved or reduced sales of chippers.

Avery Gray said...

I just got a glimpse of your special alone time with your chipper, and I'm feeling a little dirty. You take your composting very seriously, don't you?

You know what you could grow with that? Potatoes. Then you could cut them in pieces, boil them, add a little cream and butter, season with some salt and white pepper, and viola! A delicious taste treat!

Mike said...

I could do that, but then I wouldn't be very ready for next year's Thanksgiving, would I? THE ORIGINAL PILGRIMS DIDN'T HAVE POTATOES!

Know what they did have though? Corn.

Avery Gray said...

Maize. And you're stuck on the same note, my friend. I thought we'd already established that I was right.

Mike said...

Only in your fantasy world, Avery. I'm sure with your excellent imagination you've constructed a lovely one.

Avery Gray said...

Yep. You should see it. The clouds are fluffy mashed potatoes and the rivers flow with gravy. It's a delicious place to live.