is a title my wife suggested for a blog entry, and I am if nothing else an obedient spouse. “Sure thing,” I called from the couch, muting the commercial. My wife is an ecologist. Permaculture has to do with ecologically sustainable gardening, and one aspect of said approach is to design gardens such that elements work to sustain one another, everything becomes a self-sustaining system, and nothing is without a function. The idea is waste not, want not. I realize this is a terrible thing to admit, but I sometimes have an almost irresistible urge to throw something away. I mean in the garbage. Not a big thing. Not, for instance, a plastic bottle. I mean just a little, tiny thing. Like, say, a napkin (turns out , it can be composted). We throw so little out, our garbage bags have half-lives. Plastic bags are rinsed. Paper bags and old boxes are used to help mulch the garden to suppress weeds. Those little plastic circles that break off from the milk bottle top? There’s an art place in town that takes those. I was recently reading the novel White Noise, written in the 80s, and there’s a kitchen scene that mentions a trash compactor. A trash compactor. Remember those? Remember when the idea was to get as much garbage into the landfill as you could? But back to my point. An example: I’ve taken on sweeping the kitchen floor each evening after the kids are asleep and it’s clear they have finished testing gravity with every conceivable item of food matter (I’ve suggested that no amount of such testing will prove the theory, as it can only be falsified, but they do their own thing). Back in the day (before chickens), I would dump the little swept piles into the rubbish bin. Alas, such days are behind me. “Give it to the chickens,” says my wife. So into the little old plastic ice cream container go the little particles and out they go to the chickens who, as promised, eat the stuff. That we re-use an old ice cream container says a lot, too, as does the fact that it sits next to a different plastic ice cream container filled with items for the compost. Weeds get drowned until they, too, are compost. Eggshells go into the compost, which helps to grow the garden vegetables, which we eat, except for the scraps, which go to the chickens, who lay eggs. The circle of life. And this is pretty much what I think my wife meant when she suggested “married to permaculture” as a blog post, though after I heard the back door close and her footsteps move toward the garden, it did occur to me to wonder which of us she was talking about and whether she’d actually said perma-coucher.
AboutA poet and fiction writer, I moved with my wife to New Zealand from the United States in 2004 to teach creative writing. This blog deals with some thoughts on that experience. It will teach you absolutely nothing useful about gardening and, in fact, will probably harm any such efforts. However, if you're interested in my poems, stories and/or my four books, visit me at http://bryanwalpert.com