Musings in Manure
How a spa junkie learned the merits of peat moss and poop
I was born and raised in Paris and thought of myself as a city girl. That is until, at ten years old, my parents decided to transplant the family to Boca Raton, Florida. It was quite the culture shock, as you can imagine. My days of hanging out at the cafes with an aperitif and cigarette were replaced with weekends at the beach swimming with barracudas (the real ones).
As soon as I was able to make my own decisions, I stayed South but selected an urban college and became a bona fide city girl. After graduation, I went right to the Big City, Manhattan, which suited me for the next 20 years until my husband declared that we needed a weekend home in the Hudson Valley. It was an emergency decision forced by our then two-year-old daughter, who freaked out every time she walked on grass. So I reluctantly trekked upstate and scoured each and every estate sale to furnish the house and to find the best possible plants and flowers for the garden.
That is how I became an expert on the merits of manure and peat moss.
Before meeting my neighbor Mike, I thought the word “manure” simply meant cow or horse poop. But Mike taught me how many pitchforks of manure are needed to create a flower bed and the exact amount of time it needs to “process” in order to be the most nutritious and beneficial for the garden. Manure, like wine, can be classified — not by vintage, but by the exact composition. And don’t even get him started on peat moss: manure and peat moss have divided gardners for years (Mike’s a manure man). All I know is that they both smell like sh*t, but one of them can actually give you goddess-level skin.
Last winter, I was enjoying a girls’ getaway with some friends at Two Bunch Palms in Palm Springs, California. While being given a tour of the resort, we came across two concrete baths that smelled eerily like my garden in New York. And not like the flowers. The hot, brown curdling liquid inside the tubs made me certain that we were standing above sewage or some sort of fertilization system. I asked the spa attendant what was in these baths, because certainly a fancy spa like this wouldn’t put manure on display. Of course not, she explained. These were mud baths full of peat moss.
Mud baths have been around for centuries and are said to help improve skin conditions like psoriasis, dermatitis, rosacea, eczema, acne and general inflammation. Mud therapy is said to dilute and absorb toxic substances from your body. In all of my years visiting spas, however, I had never tried a mud bath — they’re not exactly easy to come by in the city, and I’m not sure I could have tolerated the smell. But the stunning forest view in front of us and the c’est-la-vie attitude of groupthink convinced me to take a dip.
Immersing myself into the tub was challenging since the peat moss and hot spring water make you bobble on the surface like a fishing lure. The attendant had to forcefully push me down in the mud, leaving my head as a buoy, all the while reminding me not to touch the bottom because it was extremely hot. (Heat treatments open your pores so that your skin absorbs all the nutrients.)
After what seemed like an eternity, I emerged from the peat moss bath and took probably the longest outdoor shower ever recorded, as I struggled to remove all traces of the smelly substance. As I dried off, I anxiously looked in the mirror and was amazed by how great my skin looked. It was as soft as a newborn’s and looked surprisingly hydrated. So I made this resolution: When it comes to gardening, I’ll stick to poop. But for my skin? I’m a peat moss girl all the way.
Come to the Covey Retreat!
Join us at the CIVANA Carefree wellness resort in Scottsdale, Arizona from November 9-12 for our first ever Covey retreat! (Covey Spa Ambassador Anna Moine promises to try whatever outrageous treatment they offer.) You’ll get:
* $50/day resort credit
* Special $99 rate for all treatments at the Evolution Spa
* Evening Fireside Chats with Lesley Jane Seymour
* Special CoveyClub programming & free year of Nest with Covey membership (worth $99)
Just $575 for a double room, $800 for a single.
Hurry – We must book 10 rooms by Oct. 17 to make this happen!
Email email@example.com to sign up!