Eggshells and Coffee Grounds: An Unexpected Joy

I found a new, therapeutic task. Stumbled on it, really. And it is so unexpected. To me, anyway. Because, it involves messing around with leftover, sometimes decaying, food.

Which is why I really never thought I’d love to compost.

As a kid, I used to turn up my nose when I’d visit my grandparents and catch a glimpse of the “slop bucket” under the sink. The bucket served, in essence, in lieu of a disposal at the farm. And its contents were tossed outside at the end of the day, or whenever it got full.

Still is.

Now, decades removed from that childhood, I get some weird joy out of crushing the egg shells we discard every morning, and sprinkling them over a pile of steaming coffee grounds that are sliding over an uneven mountain of juicy grapefruit rinds and the chopped stalks of broccoli that nobody likes.

“We need a slop bucket,” I heard myself say out loud recently, after our designated compost bowl became overwhelmed with everything we were giving it. Words the child I was never thought she’d say.

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Me, busting my younger self.

But here I am, finding joy in a chosen errand. I mean, it takes time, when time it seems is forever at a premium. Maybe that’s why I like it? Partly. I don’t really know. I could trash the egg shells and the coffee grounds and the grapefruit rinds and be done with them in about half a second.

Or, I could collect them. Get out our biggest blender. And mix up an always surprisingly aromatic shake, one where I use my hand as a spatula to scrape out the tiny bits, harvesting every valuable piece of earth vitamins.

Rereading that makes me feel like I need to tuck my hippie in a little bit. But that’s exactly what it is. And I love it.

“It’s kind of like baking, with no rules,” I also heard myself say out loud the other day, while dumping chopped goodness into the bowl that tentatively serves as our “slop bucket.”

It really is like baking, in the best way, because you can’t screw it up. There’s no recipe for compost. Put it in. Crush it up. Blend it. Find gratitude in the fact that you had citrus remnants to lift the smell a little, and then dump it.

And it kind of bakes itself, right? Outside. I can’t wait to see what we’ve cooked up.