I followed along with Sharon Astyk’s now-completed “Independence Days” project, which ran for 10 weeks, from 17 June to 26 August 2022 as an “exercise [to build] community, accountability and solidarity” with a focus on making “our lives better now and for the future.” It offered a framework for recognising what we’re already doing and to inspire us to do more to build resilience, community, hope, a better world.

Each week, Sharon posted what she’d accomplished in each of the categories below, and so did others of us. Although Sharon’s finished with this project, I’m continuing the practice for now.

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

Planted, mulched, and watered friend’s gift plants — four valerian, an angelica, and an oak sapling. Garlic and fritillaria bulbs have arrived from Fedco and will be planted around mid-October.

gifted valerian (2) planted – 27 Sept

I finished the 10-day Equinox Creativity Challenge on FB, which was a good inspiration for me.

collage: Unexpected Pink – 28 Sept

Today (or really, yesterday, thanks to post-dating), I’m starting a Write 31 Days project on my blog; I think the theme will be TIL (Today I Learned), a combination of facts, identifications, new info, and other things learned each day along with hopefully a few new poems that might touch on learning, knowing, incorporating something new into one’s life, heart, or mind. We’ll see!

  • Harvest something: harvest, forage or glean

Ate the last cucumber harvested from the garden on Thursday. Harvested two cherry tomatoes this week — still some decent-looking green ones on the vine but not for long with another frost predicted for tonight. Harvested parsley yesterday for a shrimp dish I made. We’ve had a light frost already (when we hit 34.2F on Friday, 30 Sept) but nothing seems to have been affected by it in my garden, not even coleus. (The basil is spotty black but basil suffers at 40F, so I picked and pesto’d most of that quite a while ago). I may pick and freeze parsley today before tonight’s predicted frost, though it can survive much colder (to 10F). The arugula is sparse and a bit stunted but there’s almost enough to harvest and it will be fine in a frost. No foraging or gleaning occurred.

arugula – 1 Oct
  • Preserve something: food or local community resources.

Nothing preserved foodwise. Helped preserve local businesses by eating outside at local bakery with a friend on Thursday (52F, cloudy and breezy!) and by getting takeout from local Chinese restaurant on Tuesday evening (which lasted 3 nights).

eating with friend outside – 29 Sept

Preserved sanity with a walk around the lake on Monday and a walk in town on Wednesday.

  • Waste Not: reduce waste, reuse, salvage, repair, give away to an actual person

On Tuesday I put away the practically new juicer I haven’t used in years, and all its accessories, which were wasting a lot of counter space; still deciding whether to keep, give away, or sell.

Husband picked up a perfectly good 5-quart Revere Ware pot from the metal dump in town today.

In an effort to salvage the raspberry patch, I spent several hours on Tuesday pulling massive widely spread vines from it and cutting out old fruit canes. We spent more hours the same day clearing a bunch of trees (mostly Norway maple and glossy buckthorn), saplings (same, plus some ashes), and vines from another spot to give other plants more space and sun. And on Thursday we spent 3.5 hours clearing another perimeter spot, the rock wall between our property and our neighbours’, of vines and dying saplings. Altogether, over 12 hours of yard work to salvage sunny spots and some plants trying to grow there already.

  • Want Not: food and emergency supplies, increase economic security, reorganize to use/waste less

Dropped protection on my 3-year-old phone on Monday, which was a monthly $17 waste now that it’s worth less than $100 in trade-in. Still deciding on more ways to reduce the cell phone bill.

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

Creatively used Chinese food leftovers by cooking more shrimp and more broccoli to supplement Day 3 leftovers. Shopped the freezer for puff pastry for carmelised onion-brie-gorgonzola-tarragon tarts. Used parsley from the garden and three heads of our 2022-harvested garlic for a shrimp dish. Fed others at a small party last night.

12-15 of our garlic cloves minced – 30 Sept
  • Caregiving/Mutual Aid: contribute to community support systems, volunteer, mutual aid, advocate

Husband volunteered for local car museum on two days for total of about 10-11 hours. Checked in with daughter of friends undergoing serious health issues to see what we could do to help. Gave a ride on Friday to someone recovering from hospital stay.

Neighbours helped us by taking our dried-out, non-viable garden vines (from yard clearing weeks ago) to the stump dump today in their pickup (more to go!). A friend, who had husband’s car on his garage lift for the last three weeks, cleaned and organised many small car parts and helped him put the car back together (with an enhanced differential) yesterday for 3.5 hours.

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

Husband skilled up by putting his car back together, with the help of a friend, including reinstalling all these little bits and pieces in the proper order yesterday.

(image from Moss Motors catalog)

I’m getting written instructions for how to start the pellet stove and how to operate the non-automatic generator (with propane) in case of emergency. My vine-detection and vine-pulling skills are steadily improving (mainly Oriental bittersweet, Virginia creeper, and grapevine — we tolerate a little of the latter two in certain places, so far). I watched a webinar from the Center for Wildlife in York, ME, about migrating birds and about their ambassador owls and raptors, and of course we continue to use Cornell’s Merlin app to ID birds and PlantNet for plants, plus the Facebook groups for insects and some plants.

Maeve, a merlin, and presenter Kristen, at Center for Wildlife – 27 Sept
  • Tend & Maintain: cleaning stuff, replacing supplies, car or bike maintenance, stuff to prevent failure/breaking/hassle down the line

Lots of (normal) cleaning this week. Did some weeding and pruning around and in the vegetable garden that will make life easier in the Spring, probably. Got a needed haircut on Monday (at 7:30 a.m., stylist and I the only ones in the salon, masked).

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

Hosted a small (six people) permaculture get-together in the sunroom (with air purifier running) yesterday afternoon.

food and drinks for party – 30 Sept

Salon conversation group met in person on Friday with five of us in attendance. College friends’ virtual “cocktail party” met Wed. evening for 1.5 hours (five of us). I had lunch with a friend outside at a local bakery on Thursday. All of those connections make my life better. I think the spate of yard work we’re doing — the major clearing of vines, some saplings, lots of small dying trees, plus tree and shrub pruning — will make the yard better next year and perhaps give us more sunny or part-sun spots for more (or divided) plants.

Featured image: the cat trying to eat grass in a vase

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