Nance Klehm on Bacteria, Digestion and Old-Time Kitchen Folk Magic (Arthur, 2008)

“WEEDEATER” column
by Nance Klehm

illustration by Megan McGinley
from Arthur Magazine No. 32 (Dec 2008)

Breaking It Down: Bacteria, Digestion and Old-Time Kitchen Folk Magic

There are three fundamentals that guide this time of descent into northern-hemisphere darkness. The winter season is one of decline and decomposition, activity below ground and general shadowiness. The fundamentals that guide us are:

Everything comes into this world hungry.
Everything wants to be digested.
Everything flows towards soil.

Everything comes into this world hungry.
Bacteria are the living structure assisting all life forms including ourselves. They are the primary alchemists transforming structures of life into other structures. Bacteria shall from hereon be known as ‘beasties.’

All matter is constantly, biochemically altering as enzymes already present in an organism break down from within, and microorganisms, namely beasties (but sometimes fungi too) settle in to eat and excrete, transforming a pear on your counter, a pile of leaves on the sidewalk, or an animal corpse into a lovely pile of biological goo or soil on the spot where the pear/leaves/corpse formerly rested. It is the end of the line in one way, but the beginning of another too. In other words, the snake eats her own tail. It’s nature’s nature.

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