Friday, February 14, 2003


The other evening, all unprepared, being in the neighborhood across the Lake where the health store lady had said they sell composted cow manure I took the left turn directly across from the blue-roofed coffee shop and found the cattle farm without wandering too much, didn't expect to find it so easily in the usual random grid of rice paddy farm roads but I found it, and since I was there and the moment was thus auspicious, what the hell, I asked for ten bags and the guy gave me ten empty paper feed sacks and showed me the shovels and went away leaving me there in the cold and falling darkness with my city clothes and two huge piles of cow manure compost to work with.

"Pack it in," he'd said, "get your money's worth," and so at last there in the dark it was just steaming everests of composting cowshit (sounds like a Batman exclamation) and yours truly, balancing the bags while I shoveled it in and stacked the bags and loaded them into the van as fast as I could (one doesn't really dilly-dally in dirty duty), but it takes quite a long and hot while to cram ten big floppy paper bags with steaming cow manure compost in the falling dark, the cows slowly chewing their dinnercuds snug over there in the deeps of their barn, gazing brown-eyed out at me shoveling; the air was filled with figurative bovine ruminations on the sad lives of these lowly two-legged cloth-wearing creatures who have to spend their lives taking care of the noble cow; even, in some bizarre instances, devotedly cleaning cow toilets in the cold and darkness while inappropriately clothed, like this poor guy.

And of course the compost was still composting, so what with the sweat and the compost steam, the van and I remained warm and moist on the way home, and had to be aired out considerably before the entire universe no longer evoked the inside of a cow.

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