An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of December 4, 2011
Issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort adjoining Chichén Itzá Ruin in
YUCATÁN, MÉXICO

ELEGANCE IS A COMPOST HEAP

Deep in the still night I awoke to the odor of my compost heap, a bruised-purple smell wearing old lace; fermenting citrus. Usually the heap doesn't stink, but lately I've gorged on so many sweet oranges that the extra peelings and a few whole rotten fruits have thrown the system out of whack.

Beneath the mosquito net I lay thinking how elegant it was for a compost heap to tell me it was indisposed.

For, elegance, it seems to me, is something distilled from what's profound and permanent. Elegance doesn't compromise itself with fashion or impulse, but rather states its case simply and clearly in timeless and appropriate terms.

That's what my compost was doing, stating its case, making known in the middle of a cricketless night its yearning to return to that equilibrium -- to that Middle Path -- at which its community of mutually dependent and cooperating decomposers attain their greatest diversity and efficiency. And, in Nature, what urges are more timeless and appropriate than those? What is more elegant?

The very hue of the odor that night told me what was needed. It was the same required by all healthy compost heaps, as well as for all of Nature's living things, at least Nature as witnessed here on Earth: A properly balanced input of nutrients involving some kind of energy source, air and water. No formula for life is more timeless and appropriate than that. It's an elegant formula.

Early the next morning I dumped a wheelbarrow of brown leaves onto the imbalanced heap, mingling them with bright orange rinds and yellow banana peelings, and then I peed on the whole thing. In other words, I added energy (stored among the leaves' carbohydrates), carbon and nitrogen at a timelessly exact and appropriate ratio, and stirred in air and water.

How elegant I felt standing there peeing on my mound!

The next night the air pooling around the hut was sweet and musty. It was an earthy fragrance redolent of wellness, satisfaction and unspeakable elegance. Facebook Icon.