Decomposition

“There is magic in decay. A dance to be done for the rotting.”   

-Don Chelotti

Decomposition is the act of breaking down.  In natural systems, decomposition is an important part of the circle of life.  It is the mechanism by which dead, complex, organic matter is broken down into simpler compounds.  Decomposers, such as bacteria, earthworms, insects, fungus, and other invertebrates are nature’s “trash collectors,” the organisms necessary for decay and nutrient recycling. They are necessary for the return of important elements and compounds to the air, soil, and water.

As gardeners, we can re-create the decomposition process observed in natural systems.  In a compost system, waste, scraps, and yard debris are broken down by decomposers and recycled into basic compounds and elements that are the foundation for healthy soil.  Compost replenishes organic matter to the garden, in turn, contributing to the overall health of plants, making them less likely to succumb to pests, drought, and disease. Moreover, it can eliminate the need for petroleum-based fertilizers that can have adverse effects on the environment.  Compost systems can be designed to fit any garden setting, large or small, simple or more complex. 

There are four basic components to every compost recipe. The four, components, brown matter, green matter, water, and air, provide the fuel for the living organisms, bacteria, fungi, insects, and worms, to transform the old plant material into dark, rich, nutritious soil. Dry, brown matter supplies the compost with carbon, energizing the compost mixture and producing heat. Brown matter includes leaves, bark and wood, dried grass clippings, newspaper, cardboard, saw dust, and dryer lint.  Wet, green matter provides nitrogen to the compost system that feeds the organisms interacting with the brown matter.  Fruits and vegetables, animal manure, garden refuse, weeds, coffee grounds, and fresh grass clipping are green matter.  Air is necessary for the decomposition process.  Water, in the right amount, is also needed to maintain healthy microbial activity.  

The process of decomposition holds meaning in our lives.  As we create our unique compost mixture, we can embrace the decomposition process as we are broken down to our simplest form.  Our brown matter is old habits, behavior patterns, relationship wounds, inherited characteristics, trauma, including generational trauma – stuff that you have been carrying for a really long time…so long that its dry and brown.  This is your carbon – the foundation of you as a living organism – your fire starter and energy as you begin the decomposition process.  Green matter is our new ideas, goals, and improvements we want to make in our lives – learning a new skill, improving physical health, managing emotions, healing trauma.  Green matter will feed your transformation process.  Air is our breath. Breathing fully and deeply with purpose. Inhaling to fill our lungs and cells with oxygen and exhaling to let go of what we cannot control.   What activities help you breathe, exhale, and encourage your renewal and transformation? Maybe you spend time in nature, create art, exercise, write, participate in a support group or a spiritual community, or meditate.  Water revitalizes us and rinses us clean. We see more clearly. We surrender to the flow of life, in turbulent and in tranquil times.  What core values and intentions help you to maintain your healthy boundaries, ground your emotional state, and strengthen your resilience to help the transformation process move steadily forward? Perhaps, sitting in self-reflection, nurturing supportive and loving relationships, setting small intentions to manifest a deeper sense of self-awareness, acknowledging your needs and not taking things personally. As the process progresses, we transform from complexity to simplicity.  The true elements of our our essence is what remains, our most pure and highest self.  From this strong, authentic foundation, we grow forth our richest, most beautiful life from simple and ordinary elements – peace, joy, and love. 

Published by Sarah Croscutt

I am the owner and facilitator of From the Outside, LLC, a program that connects people to the natural world, themselves, and each other through plant and nature-based activity, promoting self-awareness, healing, wholeness, and community. In addition, I am an environmental writer with essays included in several anthologies published by Plants and Poetry Journal and Wild Roof Journal (online). I would love to connect here or on Instagram @sarahc_outside.

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