Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 10.20.05
Stanstead, Quebec


Are you there, Al? It's me, Ross.

Dear Mr. Gore:

Or can I call you "Al"? I'm thinking yes.

First of all, congratulations on your Nobel Peace Prize. I hope this prestigious honour won't distract you from your crusade against global warming. In fact, I have a great title for your next book/movie: How about Is It Hot in Here or Is It Just Me?

Certainly, we're seeing more and more evidence to support your claims. Due to longer warm periods, for instance, cats are having an extra litter per year. And most of them seem to be ending up on my doorstep.

And then there was that alleged Mountie-killer police hauled out of a house in Edmonton last week. Get this: he wasn't wearing a shirt. Now, I know that if the cops had my place surrounded and were coming in for me, I'd put a shirt on. The only thing I can think of is that it must have been really hot. In October! In Edmonton! Gotta be global warming.

Anyway, keep up the good work.

As for the purpose of this letter, I need your help.

It's about my compost.

It stinks.

I mean really stinks. Like, I've been through baby diapers four times and that's nothing in comparison. Remember Bill Clinton's running shoes during the '96 campaign? Yeah, that bad.

This is especially frustrating because this past spring, I attended a composting workshop to learn what I'd been doing wrong that had made my compost not the sweet-smelling crumbling pile it should be but a gloppy mass of fly bait.

What I discovered was that I wasn't adding enough brown/dry stuff to balance my green/wet stuff. Ah, of course. So simple. I also learned that I could be composting a lot more than I had been.

And so, through the summer, I threw in dried grass clippings and leaves plus new additions like stale bread, dinner scraps, pasta, dog hair, corn cobs, dryer lint. I've been fishing stuff out of the garbage to reduce our contributions to landfills. In short, I've been composting just about anything I could, though, in retrospect, adding that leftover container of soup was probably ill-advised.

I say this because when I went to retrieve some compost this past weekend, all I found was concentrated goo. Gag-a-trocious goo. My compost is more loathsome than ever.

What I think it needs is something with absorbency. I'm thinking used facial tissues. That would sop things up. Plus, with the number of colds and allergies in this house we could reduce our annual household garbage by a forest or two. But I've searched the Internet and have yet to find a definitive answer to the indelicate question: Is snot compostable? Surely, Al, you'd agree with me that at very least it qualifies as a "green."

What do you think, Al? Kleenex: yes or no?

And another thing: I've been mulching the fallen leaves with a lawnmower this year so that they don't end up as landfill. But when it comes to mowing leaves, a lawnmower is really just a vicious leaf-blower. Consequently, I have to mow a couple of times to really munch up the leaves. So I was wondering, Al, are the gas emissions from my lawnmower more harmful than if I had just sent the leaves to the dump?

I know climate's your bag, Al, not eco-gardening. And you probably have more important things on your mind. But environmentalism is the religion of the twenty-first century, complete with that great by-product of religion, guilt. Every time we throw out a plastic bag or leave the car idling or eat a strawberry in March, it feels like a sin.

And guess what, Al? You're the Holy Prophet. Or maybe you're the Messiah. Either way, you should grow back the beard.

People are drawn to religion because they're inspired. But then they learn that keeping the faith is hard work. "Thou shalt not kill" is easy. "Thou shalt not drive to the corner store just because it raineth and thou wantest chips" is inconvenient.

So, what do you say, Al? Do you have the answers? Preferably easy ones?

Thanks for your time. I remain,

Stinky in Stanstead, Quebec.