This spring the garden got away on me.  In this west coast rain forest if you glance away for a couple of nanoseconds in April the gangland boss aka morning glory marshals the forces of dead nettle, buttercup and dandelion and declares that the wild rumpus shall start.  An early and repeated exposure to The Secret Garden instilled in me a fondness for weeding.  But even so, I was daunted by the task that awaited me in late May.  I set aside an entire day, suited up, grabbed my trowel and set to.  The pile of weeds grew and grew and by mid  afternoon my spiritual kinship with Mary Lennox was wearing thin. Then a word popped into my head.  Biomass.  This is a word that I have only recently encountered and embraced.  Biomass, I said to myself.  I’m certainly generating a lot of biomass today.  Wonder if this biomass will fit into the compost bin.  It was oddly comforting. I was reminded of a moment when I was reading a collection of monster poems to a preschooler.  This kid kept peeking at the monster illustration on the cover of the book and then slamming the book open so as to hide it.   It obviously both frightened and intrigued her.  Then one of the poems included the word “ogre.”  She closed the book again and pointed to the cover.  “Is he an ogre?”  “Definitely,” I said.  Her whole body relaxed, the monster put firmly in his place by naming. It seems as if finding the precise word is as good a coping tool at 61 as it is at 4. Maybe our fundamental job as writers is as simple as this: finding the right word and passing it along.



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3 responses to “Biomass

  1. martineleavitt

    Yes, the power of a word, the power of naming. And your words just began my day with a little bit of beauty. Thank you, Sarah.

  2. I love that word, Sarah, and I am a believer in the power of composting. It’s nothing short of miraculous how a few hardworking worms can turn that biomass into rich, fragrant, soil. There’s a writing metaphor in there as well, I think.

  3. Naming is such a mixed blessing, isn’t it? Just like language, it removes the “is-ness” of the specific thing in front of us by categorizing it, while at the same time making it possible to reach out to others who aren’t experiencing it. In this case, Sarah, I’m so glad you reached out — I just weeded vicariously 🙂

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