• It’ ain’t easy being green in the Winter

    by Gabriel Cross

    It was easy enough in the summer, and the heavy rains in fall presented no problems, but now it’s winter, and it’s just too cold to take out the food scraps and turn the compost pile. I know, I’m a wimp, but I can’t help it. I wait four or five days until our airtight compost bucket is full to the brim before I’ll brave the weather and incorporate the new stuff with the pile. Maybe it would help motivate me if the bucket weren’t airtight.

    In the summer, the heat didn’t bother me at all. I researched the Berkeley method and came up with my own hybrid version of composting (I don’t need it ready in three weeks, just before we plant this spring).

    In the fall I didn’t mind raking the billions of leaves from the neighbor’s sycamore tree, knowing that they would provide organic mulch and ample brown material to help maintain a healthy balance in our pile.

    But now: my knuckles are freezing, my joints hurt, and I don’t want to be out here anymore. Andrew Bird’s cover of “It Ain’t Easy Being Green” is playing in my head, and I secretly suspect that it is too cold for the compost to break down anyway.

    Winter poses a number of challenges to the lifestyle we have developed up here in Oregon. The car’s heater scoffs at my winter bike gear, its headlights laugh openly at the little LED strapped to my handlebars. The windshield wipers are baffled that I even try to bike in the rain with my glasses.

    The short days and gray skies mean that our efforts to utilize daylight are useless, and the electric lights burn coal all day. We worked on our air infiltration and bundle up indoors, but still the furnace runs. In short, we got the winter blues.

    But I refuse to be a blue sky environmentalist and a rainy day fossil fuel junkie. I may wait until I literally cannot close the lid of my compost bucket, but I will take it out and turn the pile instead of dumping it in the trash.

    Getting on my bike is just about the only fresh air and exercise I get all winter, so I will suit up and ride in the rain and freezing cold, no matter how much the car mocks me. And I will wear a sweater indoors and keep the thermostat down a few degrees.

    Winter is the time to buck up and put some effort into my ideals. It’s all well and good to bike every day and I love doing it in the summertime, but if I’m serious about kicking my car habit, I have to be able to cycle now when it’s no fun.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, the lid to the compost bucket won’t close all the way, and the kitchen is starting to smell a little.

    • You are a true good spirit. I try my best but sometimes life gets the better of me.

      • Jesse

      • December 26, 2011 at 7:50 pm
      • Reply

      We compost and experience the same stuff. Neither Brian or I want to walk out far enough to throw the container in the compost. We wait and as we wait, the container or two piles up with coffee grounds, egg shells, and banana peels. The the fruit flies come. I had no idea they were everywhere until it seemed I couldn’t cook or drink wine without them diving my food. Damn it. Just compost often enough to keep the fruit flies at bay. That’s all I’m saying.

    • The fence out back has two boards that swivel at the bottom making it easy for me to get into my neighbor’s comp pile. Once a man is retired he doesn’t have time for such things as composting. All I have to worry about is my neighbor retiring.

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