I got to know my compost pile. I collected the paper, vegetable refuse, grass cuttings, and piled them up in a chicken wire silo in the back yard. It smelled sweet as it decomposed, and I watched the little bugs and the lizards that scampered across it. I watched the millipedes churning away in the compost’s belly excreting black gold.
Occasionally, a hearty squash seed would start to sprout and I would hesitate as I turned it under with my pitchfork. He was trying so hard, I would muse. As the soil became fertile, the neighboring tree’s roots reached up and suckled at its base. The yellow flowers were bigger, brighter, more numerous this year.
I planted some tomatoes, too. I placed the seeds in egg cartons and when they were “estrong enough” (Princess Bride, anyone?), moved them to beds mixed with compost soil. The tomatoes grew big and round, fragrant and luscious. Before too long, though, they began to whither. One by one, in a period of a three or four weeks, half of the tomatoes were dead dry sticks. I soon discovered my enemy – snails. I poured salt on one and watched him bubble and froth until he was just a puddle. I decided to never do that again, and the snails would have my remaining tomatoes – every last one. I will try again this next year.
As well you may know, I’ve been experimenting with coffee cherries; from fruit to roast. It has been fun to see how much work goes into a simple cup of joe. It’s mind boggling how complex the whole process is. There are infinite opportunities for failure throughout, and you never know how a cup will turn out. How late did the cherries mature? Did they ferment too long? Did they dry too slow? How was the roast? Too hot? Too short? Too long? Not long enough? Was the brew water temperature too hot, not hot enough? How long did it steep? My goodness, and to top it off, it seems that the the particulars of the bean, our little diva bean, require all those variables to be adequate to her liking.
The cup of coffee is always good, I’ve found, but always different. It’s frustrating and wonderful.