In the yurt where I stay there’s a composting toilet, a pretty ingenious self-contained unit that uses zero water. After you go you pour in a cup of sawdust, and a handle pops out that you can turn to rotate the inner drum every couple of days. The toilet plugs into the wall. A fan simultaneously cools the contents and ventilates the smell through a pipe outside. Considering that it turns shit into a smaller amount of more useful shit, the toilet requires very little maintenance. Until, that is, the power goes out, like it did before I came up this week.
I get in on Monday and a dozen flies are hanging around in the bathroom, a dozen more would appear over the course of the next couple days. I reset the breaker and go into fly-control mode, attacking them with the hose of the vacuum cleaner and eventually a fly swatter I buy from a supermarket in Catskill. I murder flies in interstitial moments, while I’m waiting for water to boil and oatmeal to meal. I think about it constantly and when I write. It is a steady fixation.
Say what you will
about protecting all life.
Horses swat at flies
so why can’t I?
And I don’t even
need a pony tail.
One or two still escape the toilet every time I lift open the lid. I need to be thinking about fly-prevention. I talk to Ward, who owns the property, and he has powdered boric acid for me to mix into the drum to kill the larvae. First, he says, I should empty the toilet. So I empty the toilet. I dump trayfuls into a wheelbarrow and wheel it out to a mound near the back of the property. I wash my hands and disinfect all the things. I wanted to be closer to nature and here I am.