Artistic Decay

Weird, I might be. But I’ve always found something lovely about the food scraps that end up in the metal bin that sits on our counter until we dump the contents into our vast compost pile beneath the New Mexican sun. I love the blood-red ooze of beet scraps, the paper-thin crinkles of onion skin, the vibrant orange of papaya. How could I not admire such a medley of natural colors?

Last week, I tossed a bunch of pea pods. When I returned a day later, the sun had dried them into the most intricately artistic shapes. I retrieved them from the compost pile and took them inside so Jerry could photograph them.

Is it my imagination or do you, too, see the beauty in these shriveled little scraps? Eventually, they will crumble into the tiny flecks that turn to soil. I’ll spread them around plants, and they’ll help our garden grow anew, and we’ll praise the fresh new vegetables and fruits when they ripen on stem and tree. Perhaps they’ll produce a juicy red tomato. And then we shall begin the whole process again, from scrap to earth and all the art between.

13 thoughts on “Artistic Decay

  1. Karen,
    A lovely and insightful post.I often think about how much we take for granted and subsequently miss as a result. Looking at a subject matter such as this through the lens of a camera helps raise our awareness but it still needs an inquisitive eye to point the camera at it.
    It’s nice to see that on this occasion the pea hasn’t stolen the show, well spotted.

    Miles

  2. Andy, Jerry takes about 99 percent of the photos on this blog (those he hasn’t shot are noted as such). Thanks, on his behalf! Although in a few weeks I’ll be traveling to a new destination without photo hubby, so I’ll have to fend for myself.

  3. That is a rather genius vision for food scraps. Sounds like a photo exhibit in the making. We keep an identical bucket in our kitchen for the compost pile which we rely on for our garden’s fertility. We could use some of your New Mexico sun sometimes to speed our compost along. And yes, we’ve put everything imaginable in the pile, including our poor deceased guinea pig, Shadow, who is no pushing up cucumbers probably.

  4. Karen, I love these pictures. Beautiful. And, I know exactly what you mean about beet scraps. I peel them in long slivers and love seeing the red of the inside become darker.

  5. Thanks, Susan. I’ll pass the word on to Jerry.

    Ed, I like this idea of a photo exhibit. In fact, I was just talking about that…. You could use the sun, but we could use a little more moisture at times. Although our compost bin might prove to be an interesting archaeological site way down the road. Sorry about your guinea pig 🙁

    Akila, thanks. When we lived in Thailand I had the same reverence for deep purple mangosteen peels and fuchsia dragonfruit.

  6. Actually, while deathly dry, these pea pods look like they are breathing. True, they are shrivelled, and yet there is so much volume in them. Beautiful!

  7. great images and writing.

    How have you been doing? Long time no contact with you. When will you come to Cambodia again?

    Regard from Kunthy, Cambodian IMMF alumni

  8. Kunthy! I’m so glad you commented – it’s great to hear from you. Where are you now? I’ll be in Cambodia again in December. Jerry is planning to have a photo exhibit in Siem Reap…. I’ll let you know. I’m sending you an email on Facebook now….

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