University of North Florida: Organic Garden

by Tim Gilmore, 7/6/2012

He thinks his most important work would be to write the history of these bricks—of their every molecule of moisture and every leaf each wind clatters across them. These were moments noticed. He would also like to record the unnoticed, of which there is more in the world, and in which resides the passing real.

What everything comes down to is this.

Spring best evokes the fruitful balance of the creative in the remaining ancient. The dignity of old things grows with the small things that bud and bloom in the cracks. A strange peace and calm comes in the fecundity that brings to light the compost of all things—small blooms in old bricks. The central truth of the world is compost. Everything has its time, but even in death, nothing ever dies.

Compost Principle No. 1

Dirt is only matter out of place, where we don’t want it. Soil isn’t dirty. As the renewal of things dead, soil is the cleanest of states of being.

Compost Principle No. 2

Soil is resurrection.

Compost Principle No. 3

Compost / Soil is death broken down and made nutritious. Compost / Soil is death broken down and made good. Compost / Soil is death broken down and made good for the living.

Compost Principle No. 4

Ash can be the best compost. Wood ashes are a rich source of potash, or potassium carbonate. Potash is magic. Potash yields to chlorophyll. Potash-yielding-chlorophyll enables the alchemical act of photosynthesis, the making of the light of the sun into the green of leaf growth. Photosynthesis becomes the essential magical act of the earth, religious act of the earth, philosophical act of the earth, political act of the earth, mechanical act of the earth, psychological act of the earth. Or compost does. Compost and photosynthesis—there is nothing else.

Rename the whole thing: Compost and Photosynthesis. Page One could have said, “Compost and Photosynthesis,” and the whole thing would have been done.

The astronaut said that outer space smelled like a burnt-out fire, a fireplace the morning after.

Thus on the Eastside of Jacksonville, 2010, the burning of Crepe Myrtle limbs, with the sap burbling out either end, and the ash of these remains planted on urban gardens in the inner core of the city.

Original Draft, Compost Principle No. 5

Compost is densely compacted ghosts.

Compost Principle No. 5

Compost is ghost. Compost is archaeology.

Compost Principle No. 6

Compost is giving back. Theoretically one could compost a city. Give it back to itself. Undo it, thus complete it.

Compost Principle No. 7

Compost is return to origin, and return to origin is disappearance. Not as if one had never been. As if you have been and come back to the beginning, understanding where you are.

Compost Principle No. 8

Compost is the return to the native land. Compost is re-womb. Compost is when your parents loved you and you knew nothing outside of that love in the moment of that love. Compost is coming back.

Compost Principle No. 9

Compost is: 1) giving back, 2) coming back

Compost Principle No. 10

Compost makes whole.

Compost Principle No. 11

Nothing is ever not in a state of compost. Daily the earth breaks us down and regenerates us. The full breaking down of us makes new things.

Compost Principle No. 12

Compost is reconciliation.

Compost Principle No. 13

The essence of beauty involves a coming-together of opposed things. Little is more lovely than the earth’s absorption of a collapsing building. In the right kind of city, old buildings are absorbed into the earth and time just enough to layer them and haunt them, and when we see the layers of time in the city’s places, we’re brought to a sense of mystery. Here the urban detective meets the archaeologist. For another kind of city, this kind of city, imagine all the bland and beige concrete parking garages fissured and gryked and utterly consumed by blood-red rambling roses.

Compost Principle No. 14

Flower is fecund and rotting is ripe.

Compost Principle No. 15

Take back the city. Take it somewhere. It’s never been anywhere. It’s never left its hometown. Introduce it to the world. Show it its own context. Educate it. Offer it a mirror. Remind it that it’s the earth. Sow all its roofs with seeds. Invite the mayor and city council into the compost bin. Figure out how to hate its stupidity, praise its rare and occasional thinking, and live lovingly within it. It is, after all, yours, if you want it, and even if you don’t, while you’re here, make from it some piece of art. Early every morning, between rains, walk among your tall and billowy rosemary and your brown turkey fig and petite black fig and creeping fig and Satsuma tree and Hostas and Brunfelsias and clematis and Confederate jasmine vines and look for every bright green new growth. Think about what nurtures that growth. Think about what’s buried beneath. Think about what everything comes down to. Think about what everything comes up from. The world perpetually falls back into the earth, and the earth constantly saves the world.