The Old Factories

The door has closed for good on the old factory. Once full of the hustle and bustle of making, the air inside is now still and quiet. The essentials were moved out and relocated. All that’s left is a lifeless skeleton.

And, then the factory falls. From some lofty branch, this once photosynthetic powerhouse takes a whimsical whirl to the ground. Its landing spot is as uncertain as is its future.

Many view these factories with scorn. They burn them, demolish them, toss them to the curb. Anything to make the abandoned structures vanish and keep up the block.

But, I enjoy the old factories.

I enjoy shuffling through their midst. Their stark colors pop against the verdant turf. In some, the incandescent glow hasn’t been turned off just yet and still beam of color from livelier days. Where the wind takes them, they congregate and delineate fencerow and field alike. In such piles, kicking their stolid walls in a stiff breeze animates them once more.

I also enjoy how the old factories enhance the neighborhood. Arthropod entrepreneurs move in and bring a second life to these empty vessels. These remnants become hangout places for fungi and fun girl alike. Soon, the smell of brewed geosmin and earthy smells is on every corner. Graffiti and murals from earthworms and beetles appear overnight. Gentrification, right out my back door.

Yes, I enjoy the old factories. And, I wouldn’t get rid of them for the world.

2016-1012-023 fallen leaves-LRPS1x1.jpg

With the arrival of November, I find myself raking leaves. And, being surrounded by trees on two and a half acres, we have plenty to use. Some have started to drop in earnest while others still hold fast. The succession helps this collector of fallen foliage.

While many gardeners herd them to the curb, to me each leaf is precious and nary a one leaves our property. For years, I’ve considered the litter quite valuable. Even as a teenager, I’d pile them up to make leaf mold and use this black gold to mulch plants the following year.

I keep my greed in check. Many that fall lie where they land for most of the winter. But, in areas where they are plentiful, I relocate them by the wheelbarrow load from the lawn to garden beds. A thin layer keeps the weeds down around vegetables, perennials, and woodies, and a thick layer smoothers the grass (save for the dastardly Bermuda!) to help create new planting areas. That’s exactly what I’m doing around our fig saplings. In the spring, this blanket will be plugged with grasses to create a groundcover matrix.

Some beds that I mulched last fall still have an icing of last year’s leaves. Amazing, no? They need a new coating as a few weeds are gaining hold, but still I’m impressed that they’ve persisted for so long.

Yes, I wouldn’t get rid of them for the world.