Monday, March 27, 2017

"Well-Rotted Manure, Steaming"

There is a 1978 watercolor postcard by Alan Gussow entitled "Well-Rotted Manure, Steaming."  His wife explains in her book This Organic Life how the blue-green steam on the artwork was not intended to represent the metabolic steam produced by the compost as it is being broken down by organisms, but the water vapor that sometimes rises as the sun burns off the morning dew.  (People were pointing out that well rotted manure doesn't steam.)

Well-Rotted Manure, Steaming by Alan Gussow

Last week I witnessed the phenomenon myself on my garden compost pile.  We had a cold morning with frost, and the sun was quickly warming surfaces.  Dark surfaces, especially, were billowing with steam.  I couldn't resist taking a picture.

It's nice, I think, to see the artistry in ordinary things.


  1. What a neat comparison. I never noticed too much about the 'rotted' manure, but know the manure dad and mom put out was still in it's dried shape. I don't think it was ever composted...

    For some reason I can't figure out yet, Google Chrome will not let e comment or yours or Rick's blogs. It seems to work on Edge and foxfire.

  2. Wow! That's a nice catch. I shot a picture yesterday while eating lunch on a courtyard picnic table at the college.The table is sun dried to a nice gray patina but in the table were knots that looked like amber eyes watching me wear. They were quite beautiful.