Life and Death (and Compost)

Here is the compost part:

I have been listening to the NPR podcast “You Bet Your Garden” this year.  Mike McGrath is quite a character and is relentless in his promotion of using a leaf blower in reverse to shred and gather leaves.  The shredded leaves can then be turned into the best imaginable compost or used directly on the garden as mulch.

So, I investigated (nagged hubby) and found out that our blower does indeed do this.  I just spent 2 hours filling 2 gigantic trash bags–the REALLY big ones.  It was great to be working outside on this perfect fall day.  After filling the bag on the blower about 9 times, I felt like my shoulder was going to dislocate and I had to stop.  Hopefully I can put another couple hours in this week and have a decent amount to spread on the garden. 

I am sure that the neighbor who was also busy with leaves must have thought I was an idiot.  Who would try to suck up and bag 5 acres worth of leaves?!  If only he knew the method to my madness. 

Here is the Life and Death part:

I am constantly amazed by the calm and perspective I always gain by being engaged outside.  Today was a day to ponder life and death and what a better lesson could I have had then engaging in the cycle of life right here on the farm.  As I gathered leaves, I thought of the rich soil they would make in the garden and how useful their deaths would be.  Next spring, they would be followed by a whole new avalanche of beautiful leaves that would do their jobs on and off the tree and the cycle goes round and round. The ending is necessary for the beginning.  Or perhaps, there is no beginning or end–they flow into each other.

Today and tomorrow (Nov. 1 and 2)  is the Day of the Dead (more here: ). This celebration is a very dear one to this family.  On November 2, 1996 my husband and I lost our first daughter, Adele, who was stillborn at 22 weeks.  In a poignant twist, we have a holiday that perfectly commemorates the birth and death of our first girl.  As I collected leaves this afternoon I thought of life and death and the circumstances of my own family.  I do not pretend that what happened to us and Adele was meant to be or served some higher purpose.  But this I know, her life and death was enveloped into our lives and changed us forever.  I also know, the promise of her in the womb gave my own mother the strength she needed to survive her cancer.  It is also true that the loss of Adele brought us to the circumstances that brought our 2nd daughter, Lily, to us.  And I know, she was meant to be here and with us. 

So today, the land taught me yet another lesson.  Our lives are not a line that starts with birth and ends with death, but a river that flows from one body of water and into another.  Earth and sky are all the religion I need.