Sometimes It's Better to Compost Than Compose

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Krist isn't bothering to consider ideology.
Krist Novoselic played bass in Nirvana, and is the chairman of FairVote. His column on music and politics runs every Tuesday on Reverb. Check back on Friday when he writes about what he's been listening to.
I have so many blessings in life. And while I'm afforded the opportunity to do basically whatever I like, I often feel the pull of some pesky compulsions.

Somehow I'm compelled to work in the garden. I've been out planting things in these late days of spring. The big chore has been the potatoes. Last year I grew many pounds of spuds. I ate most and either gave away or traded for things like home-canned tuna or salmon. Still, I had bags of my homegrown tubers begging to be placed in the soil. They do this pleading by sprouting through their burlap sacks. It's as if they're waving with outstretched arms. Walking by can weigh heavily on the conscience--especially to the hobby farmer experiencing a rainy spring.

But during brief dry spells earlier in the season, I prepared potato patches in anticipation of the day I would plant in them. Here's the drill: one day till, then wait a few days, or until it dries out, then till again, then spread the manure and till once more. I was lucky to have help on the messy part. Jack Endino came down to hang out, and also help record some of my bass lines for a virtual, long-distance collaboration with another musician. But the dry spell came, so instead of composing, we composted. I put a shovel in Jack's hand and together we spread the primo home-grown goat-shit fertilizer on the spud beds.

There are three big patches in different locations, each with their own variety: either Yellow Finn, Russet, or Red potatoes. It's pretty redundant labor, but I like it. You basically only have to watch the spacing and how many pieces of tuber you plant. This leaves much room for the mind to ponder things. Good thoughts come, like this one: "If you're not careful, idealism is another word for giving yourself away." I might have even girded my spade, ready for action in a symbolic act of self-defense.

I'm also out there in my straw hat and spade ruminating about the politics of the day. And they tend to be as local as the dirt under my bare feet. It's multitasking at its finest, and I can gain some pretty good revelations with my time in the field.

Perhaps it's all just mashed potatoes, but I know this works for me. Not only is it cheaper than buying potatoes, it saves money on therapy, and there's a real nice feeling of working with the good earth. And idealism? I'm absolutely for it. How else do we foster the notion of a fair society and opportunities for humanity? There's probably a way, and maybe I can come up with it, but again, I really don't need to, because I'm only working the spuds. I have the luxury of hiding in potato patches.

 
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