Sunday, September 26, 2004

Master Composter

They walked us around their yard -- front and back. Showing us the trees and shrubs and flowering plants and grasses that they were raising with tender loving care. We walked along a limestone path between the oaks and yaupons. She gathered milkweed seeds for us to take home with us. He explained how the redbud tree he had once staked up was now holding its own well enough to warrant untying it. And they offered us one of the purple salvia potted along the sidewalk leading to their front door.

At one point in the evening, the conversation turned to compost. (How can you avoid talking the subject among friends such as these?) Hot compost. Cold compost. Compost with no nitrogen. Compost with too much nitrogen. So of course, the conversation eventually came to worms.

Do you get earthworms in your pile? I asked, hoping to share the thrill of harvesting them from a cold pile and strategically placing them around the yard.

But they are evidently well beyond that. Their yard and even their pots for their potted plants are alive with worms.

So as the evening wore on, we talked about these sorts of things. And at one point, as he and she were discussing the upsides and downs of having a worm-based composter in your house, she started talking about earthworm eggs.

Eggs!? I exclaimed, with a doubting look on my face.

Yes, eggs, she said, quite sure of what she was saying.

Trudy looked over at me and seemed to take my side. He stayed neutral, playing perhaps the gracious host.

I am a master composter, she gently reminded me and proceeded to describe the rubbing-next-to-each-other act that the worms do as they fertilize the eggs.

And then the conversation moved on to other things.

But this morning, I get an email from him providing the supporting evidence. He provides a link that she found in which we learn, among other things, that compost worms (Eisenia fetida) reproduce sexually and produce upwards of 900 eggs per year.

I guess I didn't learn my high school biology well enough. And she is indeed the Master Composter.

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Sainte Chapelle

Although the gray skies turned blue while we were eating lunch with Laure and the street was bright with sunlight as we looked thru the windows from our table in the back, when we left the sky clouded up again, and it got cold.

This is cold weather, Laure said. This is cold weather even for Paris.

To three Texans with one raincoat and one umbrella between us, is was cold indeed. I kept our digital camera stashed in a dry place and (sadly) took few pictures.

As we left the restaurant, we walked back down the narrow streets we had climbed. (I seem to remember we has walked uphill and now we were walking down.) We headed toward the river and crossed it and got in line at the cathedral of Sainte Chapelle.

Sainte Chapelle is small, but it is a wonder of Gothic architecture. It is barely more than a vaulted ceiling held up by stone buttresses with sheets of centuries-old stained glass filling up the spaces in between. On a sunny day, it must be a wonder to see. But the sun had gone and masses of tourists were taking refuge from the rain in the cathedral. We didn't stay long.

So we didn't get to see Sainte Chapelle on a sunny day, which had been our hope. Still, Laure was with us, and she was going to show us around Le Marais. So rain or no rain, clouds or no clouds, cold winds or not, we went back outside and continued our walking tour.

Trip to France - Day 15

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