Archive for July, 2012
Decomposition

We have a massive wood pile in our backyard that was not-so-generously left to us by the previous owners of our house.  Or I should say, we *had* a massive wood pile.  Over the past several months, I’ve managed to clear every last piece of wood from our property.  The wood was rotten, even 3 years ago when we first moved in, and as it turned out, was of no use to us in our woodburning fireplace.  Some days I would wait for some sunshine and for Emery to settle into a nap, I’d don heavy work gloves, and start loading the logs (and stumps) onto a tarp, drag the tarp to my car, load my trunk with rotten wood, and haul it to the town’s compost heap.  I did this once each week, almost every week.  This past week, my neighbor saw me struggling with this task and loaned me his wheelbarrow, and allowed me to take the last of the wood into the overgrown area at the back of his property.  ”It helps to have the right tools,” he said.  The logs were crumbling into bits and pieces of wet, soft, organic matter, which peppered the area around the wood pile.  Some of the logs were flecked with chartreuse fungi, and all of them were pitted with the holes and burrows of countless arthropod and annelid.  When I would throw the logs into the wheelbarrow, they’d almost always split in half on impact, their rotten innards spilling like deciduous carrion.  The insides were practically hollow, with even less integrity than their pock-marked exteriors.  Load after load of rotten logs, I’d dump into the woods behind our neighbor’s house.  The logs, which likely once came from the same tree, were now splitting into shards of rot as the weight of one log propelled the substance of its neighbor into the atmosphere as dust, a particulate revulsion.  There was rot everywhere around me, and when I returned to the site where our wood pile once stood, there was a pile of rodent droppings at least an inch thick, inhabited by these grotesque, circular, almost translucent maggots that were half the size of my fist.  I was so repulsed by all of this.  That I had to carry this rot, this decay, behind our home, hide it in the woods and pretend like it didn’t exist.  The shedding of time into dank, moldy debris that cannot be resurrected by dendrochronology; you lose your skin and you are exposed, and pretty soon, you are broken down by everything around you.  What is left of us as we are stripped away?  What is revealed of us, as things are shed (or lost)?  Are we rotten and hollow, soft and yielding on the inside?  When we lose something of ourselves are we merely unmasking the rotten core that has always been inside, or are we changed somehow, into something else entirely?