Neighborly Manure

banure1In the 70s, Alice and I spent a couple of summers on Mackinac Island running a coffee house. We were supported by local ministries, the idea being to offer an alternative to the bar scene on the island for the young workers there.

I remember a conversation with a woman about where she lived. I can’t remember the town, but knew when she mentioned it that it was a big place.

“Why do you want to live in such a big city?” I asked her.

“Because if the first store I go to doesn’t have what I want, then next one probably will,” she said.

We were both pretty young at the time, but I remember thinking how very differently we thought about the most important qualities of the place you choose to live.

banure2Fast forward 40 years. We live in a rural part of a sparsely populated community. My neighbors have horses, and therefore have lots of manure. We are gardeners with no horses, so are always on the lookout for ways to enrich the garden. Neighbor Dave asked if I’d like some scrapings from his paddock, and I said yes. The stuff was black, rich, and after a couple of tries to pay him, free. He even made me feel as though I was helping him out by taking it.

I used it to enrich some bald spots on the yard. Franco and I took out time and painted the lovely stuff on the worst sections. Next step is to seed, mulch, water, and then wait a week or two for the shy green blush to poke through the straw. By the end of the summer I’ll be mowing it.

Buying things from a store is one way to accumulate the things you need, and I surely do some of this. But for me, on the satisfaction scale, nothing beats an interaction with a friend or neighbor that benefits us both.

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