Black and White view of clay pots that are decorated with flowers and leaves

The celebration for Cinco de Mayo occurs this week, a day to recognize Mexican culture and their success in a battle for independence. While not originally an American celebration, it has become a part of the holidays and a reason to meet with friends and partake in Mexican culture. This year the celebrations are subdued but still there. Restaurants are offering specials and an opportunity to experience a bit of normalcy for this day.

While life goes on, I have been reading books about how the mind works, religion and theology and some fiction in between. I seek a better understanding of myself, and of other people, culture and societies. My focus is on healing for mental health, especially in chaotic times. I am slowly processing the data, making sense of things and finding new ways to heal myself.  I have this focus every now and then and with the current events it seems like a good time to revisit information like this.

Colorfully decorated day of the dead skulls displayed in a group

As a break today, I worked on our garden and planted a few vegetables and flowers. While working on this, I had a line of thought that kept repeating. I finally wrote it down, in an effort to capture the scene and share my thoughts while I worked.

I hope everyone else is well and that you are finding ways to heal mentally when you need to.

A miniature model of a Mayan pyramid, with miniatures of people moving about the pyramid

Earthworms in the Compost

There are earth worms in my compost. I’m sifting through the compost in the wheel barrow, looking for bits and pieces that aren’t quite ready for the garden. As I shift the dirt, I see an earth worm, wriggling for cover, then another. I think “There are earth worms in my compost, how wonderful!” Something I am tending is working as it should, the organic left overs getting reduced to smaller pieces and eventually a rich addition for soil, this compost with earth worms in it.

I’ve filled the wheel barrow with compost so I wheel the load to one of our raised garden beds. A smell of fertile earth, ready to grow, wafts up as I walk. I dump the compost and shift it with the shovel, mixing it with the old dirt. There are bits and pieces of old celery, seeds, a leaf of leeks, other large bits that I pull out and place back in the wheelbarrow. I mix the compost and dirt carefully, hoping to see more earthworms in the compost. Fortunately for them, they have burrowed away, deeper in the earth, away from the sun.

Back to the compost heap, another load, then another. The final load of compost is dumped and mixed. Then I use a rake is used to smooth out the soil, make it mostly level and ready for planting. The original soil is dry, it has been a dry winter, so I grab the water hose and hook an old sprinkler to it. I place the sprinkler, turn it  on and water shoots up into the sky. I start to turn, then look back at a flash above the water arcing over the plants. A hummingbird darts in, flits about the water, then rushes away when it realizes there is no immediate threat.

Water gathers into puddles, the ground isn’t even, but that’s fine, the earth worms won’t care and neither will the plants. After watering and a break from the heat, I go back and dig holes for the new plants. I pour water in each hole, as my grandmother showed me, letting it seep into the earth around the hole. When it has drained, I put in a plant, then fill the hole with water again. Sweat drips from my face, I step inside for a drink of water on this hot afternoon. When I come back, the water has drained around the plants, so I push the dirt into the hole and pat it firmly around the plant, a green bean. A little more work, another break, repeating this until everything is planted. I put up the tools, then get the hose out one more time. I water the garden, puddles forming in different places, before seeping into the garden.

The garden beds are planted, water added and I now have a potential garden. With days of sun and the addition of water, eventually the beans and tomatoes will grow and produce.  I see the potential, but my eye is drawn to the imperfections, the problems, as I gaze at my work for the day. The thought comes back, “There are earth worms in the compost,” repeating in my mind as I stand in the afternoon sun. Something is right in the world after all.

Pictures taken by J.T. Harpster. Prints of selected photos can be found at

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