I’m following along with Sharon Astyk’s “Independence Days” project, which started two months ago and ends next week. It’s a “10-week exercise [that] builds community, accountability and solidarity as we work to make our lives better now and for the future[,] … a way of keeping track of the work we’re doing to get ourselves through the current hard times, and prepare for hard times to come.” It’s a framework for recognising what we’re already doing and perhaps motivate or inspire us to do more things to build resilience, community, hope, a better world.

Each Friday, Sharon posts what she’s done in each of the categories below (here’s her ninth post). I’m doing the same, posting mine on Sundays. Many of the items are (or could be) related to gardening, so it seems to fit here. (Equally, none of them has to do with gardening. They’re all multifaceted.)

  • Plant something: plant, start something

I planted verbena, a pale pink-lavender salvia, and a red impatiens to dress up the front and back for a garden party last night.

impatiens to brighten a dark area – 9 Aug
  • Harvest something: harvest, forage or glean

We’re now harvesting peaches! So far, many of the pits seem to be malformed, soft, the first time we’ve seen that with these trees, but the flesh has been sweet and juicy. We’ll begin giving these away and making pies and breads with them this week. I also harvested 25 or so honeydrop and another variety of orange cherry tomato this week and used many of them in a corn relish salad I made. Harvested a small summer squash; there are more, plus some cucumbers, to harvest soon. Foraged many a blueberry on a couple of trail hikes, plus some just-ripening raspberries at a local college permaculture garden.

peaches – 10 Aug
  • Preserve something: food or local community resources

No preserving this week, but much buying from the local farmstand: cukes, onions, peppers, carrots, a couple of lettuces and arugula, lemons, radishes, and some non-produce items. Also ate lunch at a café and had lunch and dinner at two restaurants in town this week.

chickpea fritters at local restaurant – 9 Aug
  • Waste Not: reduce waste, reuse, salvage, repair, give away to an actual person

Husband replaced chain saw chain after about 25 years of use from the original one. He also fixed up the table we picked up on the side of the road a couple weeks ago. And he bought useful tools from the state surplus store (torque wrench, vise grips, swiss-army-type knife, and a Ryobi drill, which uses the same battery as some of his other tools), all for under $30.

tools from NH State Surplus – 8 Aug

Gave away some peaches to friends. Gave away sunflower heads to a friend who wants the seeds. Friend saved me the time, gas, and car wear-and-tear of a 54-mile roundtrip by picking up some items at the co-op while she was in that area on Tuesday.

We (re)used some planters to hold ice and drinks for a party last night, a novel re-use for us (that looked good and functioned well). We also repurposed the 3-tiered planting stand to hold drinks, cups, and vases of flowers for the party, and the grill to hold prepared party food (on ice). Our challenge this week will be to eat or give away the leftover perishable food from last night’s party so it’s not wasted.

friends standing next to repurposed planter – 13 Aug
  • Want Not: food and emergency supplies, increase economic security, reorganize to use/waste less

I noticed lots of major gaps at the local grocery store this week: no bread at all (OK, a few packages of hot dog buns), missing basic cereals and popular chips for over a week so far, almost no eggs, continuing spotty stocking of pastas and rices, etc. Some of this is probably due to summer visitors descending on us but even so, the lack of ability of the store to stock up beforehand, knowing the well-established tourist and summer visitor patterns, or to recover within a week or two, is not encouraging. I’m re-energised to stock up on some more non-perishables and slow-to-perish foods now. At least we’re now well-supplied with cat food, litter, treats after my orders over the last few weeks.

We had a water main break in town on Friday morning, which was fixed that afternoon (and we actually got water pressure back within about 20 minutes of the start of it all) but that’s made me think about emergency water needs more; generally, I like being on town water (w/ private septic) but sometimes it’s good to know people with wells (and to have jugged water on hand).

  • Eating The Food: shop the pantry, new recipes, creative use of leftovers, help feed others

I shopped the pantry and fridge for a chutney, an artichoke dip, potatoes, pasta, pine nuts, vinegar, black olives, black beans, red beans, cheeses for party food and dinner food this week. A friend made two dips (BBQ and honey-mustard) for the party so we didn’t have to go buy them at the last minute. I made a potato-onion frittata (two in fact), which I hadn’t made in a while, plus two salads (corn relish-avocado-black bean and alphabet pasta-pine nut-bell pepper), and grilled Old Bay shrimp and grilled marinated chicken.

dipping sauces friend made for garden party – 13 Aug
  • Caregiving/Mutual Aid: contribute to community support systems, volunteer, mutual aid, advocate

Husband volunteered three days at the car museum and spent another few hours yesterday at an event they held. I’ve agreed to take a friend to a 2-hour PET scan this week. Neighbours lent us patio chairs for party and have received peaches in return. Checked in with a friend whose husband died recently, with the daughter of another friend undergoing lung cancer treatment, and with my sister (brother-in-law recovering from surgery/biopsy).

  • Skill up: particularly if they help us get along, grow, make our new reality better

On Wednesday, I watched a Zoom presentation on summer foraging in our area, one of several I’ve seen in the last couple of years, so maybe the information will stick? (I also took screenshots to help.)

foraging Zoom – 10 Aug
  • Tend & Maintain: cleaning stuff, replacing supplies, car or bike maintenance, stuff to prevent failure/breaking/hassle down the line

Watered the garden (veg and new plants) most days. Husband power-washed the patio furniture and dealt with two hornet nests and a yellow jacket nest.

  • Winter is coming: making our relationships, family life, home, community, immediate surroundings, jobs better for a long and hard upcoming year or few years.

So much socialising this week, including last night’s garden party that I’ve mentioned a few times, for the permaculture group in honour of our founding member visiting here from Florida for the week. I hiked with her on four days (Tuesday, Wed., Thursday, and yesterday) and checked out the college’s permaculture gardens with her on on Friday. We also ate out (outside) together three times (lunch Tues and Wed., dinner Friday) and on our patio on Thursday evening, plus last night’s party in the garden/patio. She and I had snacks and a garden tour with another friend on Thursday morning, and elevenses with three friends on Friday morning. [After flying here Monday, she took three antigen tests this week, all negative, and I took one yesterday morning before the party, also negative.]

I went to my poetry group meeting (in a large well-ventilated sunroom) on Tuesday afternoon. Definitely a relationship-strengthening week!

poetry meeting food and view – 9 Aug

Also, thinking of winter, scheduled chimney cleaning (for October) and glass replacement for two windows that have cracks/breaks.

Featured image: black-eyed peas emerging for late summer crop at one of the college permaculture gardens, 12 Aug.

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