October 16, 2022: AUTUMN’S ALCHEMY: Plant, Animal, Human

Remember this photo of corn and beans?

Well, here’s what that garden bed looks like now . . . (it’s the one in front, with nothing there . . .)

Four of us “put the bed to bed” yesterday, during our Friday morning work party. For GAPV, this involves six steps:

  1. Final harvest: in this case an enormous bread bowl full of green beans, plus a pile of already dried up beans for seed.
  2. Pulling up the corn stalks by the root and throwing on nearby pile.
  3. Chopping up the bean plants with a machete and leaving on the bed.
  4. Adding compost from the remains of the old compost station, left over from when the compost was in that location. (We moved it to the back of the third house during a work party early this summer.)
  5. Digging up four to six inches of already trampled upon wood chips on the paths around the bed and throwing that on the bed, raking it even.
  6. Getting new chips from the pile outside the gate deposited by chipdrop some months ago and raking onto the paths.
  7. Oh yes, and we also added leaves to top off the bed.

For winter, each bed thus becomes its own layered composting station, alchemically changing green (nitrogen), from chopped up plants, and brown (carbon), from old, partially decomposed chips and leaves, into new soil for spring planting. Since we’ve been doing this for many years, the soils in the main garden beds are already rich and what’s the word, “friable”? (Loose, easily worked with.)

Each bed will get the same treatment. Tomato beds are likely next (though there’s still a few green ones on there and one large yellow one). 

The zucchini bed will likely also be very soon, despite its new flowers . . .

I’ve already taken some of the Coleus neighbor Devin gave us this summer from the garden to inside the small greenhouse, in a pot. It sprang back almost overnight.

The rest is still quite protected, by seeding perilla.

Monday night it’s supposed to freeze . . .

Okay, but the big news here is also, hopefully, ultimately, alchemical for both my son Colin and his dog Kona, only about 18 months old. One week ago, Kona fell off a 15-foot cliff while out for a hike with Val and Dan. Hearing him yelp, the two of them, shocked, ran to the edge of the cliff and there he was beneath, holding one paw up. Dan ran at least a mile back from where they came from to find where the path down began. He found it, ran that path to where Kona was, picked him up (Dan, 135 pounds? Kona 75 pounds?) and ran with him back that same mile and further, to the car, with Kona scratching his chest the entire way. Luckily Dan has been running lately, so was in shape; however, even he thinks some kind of energy took him over so that he could endure that tremendous feat.

And that was just the beginning. It turns out there is no emergency vet care in Bloomington, a small city of 100,000. You have to go to Indianapolis. Colin and Marita drove to Indy-Vet (one hour, 20 minutes) at about 5 p.m. and didn’t get back until almost midnight. It’s a long story. Kona, it turns out, will have to have surgery, since the break is clean through, horizontally. Colin doesn’t yet have a local vet (they are hard to get, all booked with regular clients). Luckily I happen to have met on my daily walk a mostly retired vet in a nearby neighborhood, willing to consult with Colin. She is going to draw blood today, and send it to three surgeons in three teaching hospitals, two in Indiana, one in Ohio. Hopefully, one of them (they are all very good, she says), will take him on. And then, of course, there’s the recuperation, which will take months . . . 

What is this ongoing ordeal doing for Colin? After mentally and emotionally processing — the ongoing shock, the mounting expense, the constant, detailed attention required, and, as of yesterday, the necessity for surgery — he’s amazed to find himself full of gratitude: for realizing just how much he loves his dog (by his side with one hand upon him continuously for one week now, watering, feeding, medicating, picking him up to pee, poop; transfering him from (required) small cage to outside couch and back again, making sure he doesn’t put weight on that leg etc); for seeing how much help and concern he gets from the people he lives with); and ultimately, for having, in the main, a very blessed life, knowing that whatever the setback he endures, it could always be so much worse.

Alchemy, all around.  

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