Ever since moving into our house nearly a decade ago we’ve seen chipmunks in the yard or nearby in the neighborhood.

Since expanding our gardening experiment this year, though, they either multiplied or spent more time in our direct vicinity (or both).

I’ll walk out onto the deck, and hear one shooting off the stairs onto the lawn. I step into the garden, and just barely see a pair of them dart behind the water barrels. They are so stealthy, so amazingly quick, that it took me several months to realize they were present almost underfoot. I finally learned to recognize when something briefly visible in the corner of my eye (“did I just see something over there?”) was actually a chipmunk scampering to safety.

Yesterday one of our local chipmunks died  :(

Tonight I dug a hole in the warm, active part of the compost pile and laid her body there. Over time it will be worked on by the organisms in the pile, broken down into the basic components of life. By next summer, the elements of her body will be nourishing the same plants that once fed her.

That’s the way it should be, I think — you know, the circle of life.

And that, now that I think about it, is what I want to happen to me when I die. No preservation by chemicals and burial in a box. Not even incineration, with ashes spread somewhere nice. After I’m dead, I would like my body to be returned, as directly and beneficially as possible, to the natural world from which it came.

I want to be composted, broken down to my constituent parts and returned to the land. I want to be laid where my body can nourish the plants that once fed me, and now feed others.

That’s the way it should be, I think.