Here’s a photograph, taken on Friday, Nov. 28:
That, folks, is a thermometer. It’s the thermometer in my compost. It reads (in case you can’t see it) a hundred and twenty-three degrees Fahrenheit. (123°F.)
Others may be grateful for family, friends, turkey, jobs, whatever; I’m grateful for the compost heap (which I mis-typed as “heat,” a serendipitous error).
I built this heap on Tuesday the 18th, the day before surgery, and in the days just after, husband Steve brought me progress reports: 120° on Thursday, 140° on Friday. On Saturday I hobbled out to see for myself: 140°.
Perfection. EPA guidelines say that compost needs to reach 131°F (55°C) to kill most plant and human pathogens. Above 160°-165°, it will also kill off most of the beneficial organisms you (or at least I) want to add to your soil, so 140°-145° is ideal.
I’m ecstatic. Since I can’t dance, I settle for collaring everyone foolish enough to come near my doorway: husbands, sons, friends, neighbors, mailmen—
“A hundred and forty-two!” I holler, getting a firm grip.
“Wha-at?” Already they’re starting to squirm.
“My compost! A hundred and forty-two!”
“A hundred and forty-two wha-at?”
“Degrees, you fool! My compost has reached a hundred and forty-two degrees!”
They still look more interested in their freedom than in my information, the idiots, so I thrust them from me; my cry, “The perfect temperature!” follows their fleeing backs.
Let them go. Who needs them? I’ve got hot compost. In November.