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Western Pennsylvania Mensa presents.... EXTREME COMPOSTING

By Chris Sartori

I had a bit of an adventure yesterday. I thought I'd go over to George's Farm and Garden and get some compost accelerator. My heap stopped steaming in December and I want to get it working again so it's full of loam in time for The Planting. Wouldn't ya know, when I got to the greenhouse they were all out of it. George, the proprietor, is a real character. He's not all watered-down and suburbanized like the rest of us-you can tell by his lack of teeth. Anyway, he informed me that I didn't need the stuff anyway: "All's you need to get that thing steamin' is a pile of cow pies!" I asked if he had any cow pies for sale. "Well, no Missy I don't. But I got some down on the farm. Hop in the truck and we'll go get 'em."

I had a little time, plus I felt I knew George pretty well. Besides, how threatening can an eighty-year-old gardener be? So I hopped in his old Chevy and took off to the farm. We started up I-79 and I asked him (too late) where the farm was. "Oh, just north of Mars." Then he proceeded to tell me about his part in The Big One. I never knew he had landed on the beach at Normandy-but I knew all about it by the time we missed the Mars exit. I mentioned to him that we passed the ramp. "Sonofagun! Best turn this thing around then." Before I knew it, we were turfing up the median strip on 79 and merging into traffic on the south lanes. I was scared speechless, but old George kept talking about Normandy.

When we got to the farm, I found out what cow pies are. He could've at least let me change my clothes before this fiasco. George is a gentleman though and he did lend me his gloves. We spent about a half-hour pitching frozen cow manure into his truck bed. I informed him that I was not in any way going to pay for this "accelerator." "Oh, I wouldn't go chargin' you none, Missy. But just you wait 'n see what those suburb suckers'll pay for this. I'm fixin' ta put a sign on this sayin' it's Organic Garden Amender-guaranteed to build up weak soil." I thought of my neighbor Phil paying through the nose for frozen poop and helped George load up the old Chevy.

We were on Brandt School Road when our truck full of amender broke down. George got out and looked under the hood. After tinkering and pulling stuff out and putting stuff back in, he figured out what the problem was. "Well Missy, it's a good thing you're wearin' them purty blue hose. Shuck 'em off will ya an' hand 'em to me. I questioned this request-quite loudly in fact. "It's the piece-a-crap fan belt and we ain't goin' nowhere 'till I git them stockings." For some reason this made sense to me and I "shucked off" my pantyhose and handed them to George. I don't know what kind of mechanics he used, but somehow he and my hose got that truck back to George's store.

My heap isn't working yet. However, I have strong faith in George's wisdom and I'm sure it will be steaming away by spring. Phil just went by with a whole wheelbarrow full of Organic Garden Amender that he got on special at George's place. He's such a sucker.

Reprinted from the April, 1999 issue of THE PHOENIX,
the monthly newsletter of Western Pennsylvania Mensa,
Tamara Wardell, editor.   Reprinted with permission.



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