I followed along with Sharon Astyk’s now-completed “Independence Days” project, which ran for 10 weeks, from June through 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 on Sharon’s list are (or could be) related to gardening, so it seems to fit here on this blog. (Equally, none of them has to do with gardening. They’re all multifaceted.)

  • Plant something: plant, start something

I planted and mulched the remaining garlic cloves and a bonus imperial fritillaria bulb on Thursday. I think that’s it for actual plant/seed/bulb planting for me until the spring.

the garlic last row with damp hay on it – 20 Oct.
  • Harvest something: harvest, forage or glean

I “harvested” some flowers and leaves for two bouquets for a small dinner on Monday night. I forgot to take a photo of the big one, with hydrangeas, purple kale, penstemon, and such, but you can almost see the small one on the dining room table, which includes lemongrass, more kale, some heuchera flowers, clethra and blueberry foliage, et al. I harvested some thyme for a lentil pâté I made for the meal, too.

table with flowers – 17 Oct.
  • Preserve something: food or local community resources.

Still haven’t frozen the parsley. There’s still time. Preserved local resources by eating at the local bakery on the patio on Saturday morning and by buying produce and other goods from the local farmstand a few times this week.

we ate outside at local bakery – 22 Oct.

I preserved my sanity by taking a 3-mile walk alone around the lake Saturday (still two loons there) as well as an in-town walk on Tuesday.

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

Probably reduced some waste by having a friend over on Wednesday to help us eat leftovers from the Monday dinner. Husband reduced waste by eating the lentil pâté long after I would have deemed safe (for a whole week). He also reduced waste by eating the hard-boiled egg yolks I didn’t need (I needed the hard-boiled whites only for a recipe).

We reuse things all the time: mail envelopes and other blank paper/cardboard, paper and plastic bags, desk calendar sheets of paper, twist ties, rubber bands, bread and produce bags, take-out containers, and so on; and we use fabric or other bags at the grocery and elsewhere, cloth napkins, dishtowels, rechargeable batteries, etc. To note a reuse here it would have to be something extraordinary.

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

Nothing here other than continuing to keep a good supply in the house of unusual, special (to us), and potentially or actually hard-to-get items.

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

Oh, we ate the food. So much food from dinner on Monday. But we really did use up 95% of it all throughout this week and quite pleasantly, too. I made a devil’s food chocolate cake I’d never made that turned out nicely (still eating that).

I also made whipped cream with rum on Monday, which was delicious and is all gone. And I cooked a lot of spinach a new way on Monday for the dinner; I’ll use that method again.

I did shop the pantry for the lentil pâté, because I had assumed without checking that I had the fancy French green lentils it calls for and heartily thanked former me when I found with relief that I did in fact have two bags of them after I had returned home from the only store around here that carries an array of fancy lentils, which is a 1-hour-and-20-minute round-trip drive.

  • Caregiving/Mutual Aid: contribute to community support systems, volunteer, mutual aid, advocate

We did some errands on Thursday and Saturday for friends with Covid. I ordered flowers for a friend’s memorial service tomorrow. Husband volunteered for about 15 hours this week on Tuesday and Wednesday helping put up a new ceiling in a building at the local car museum.

ceiling work at car museum in progress – 19 Oct.
  • Skill up: particularly if they help us get along, grow, make our new reality better

Husband learned how to put up a steel paneled ceiling. I improved my cooking skills with both the spinach and cake-making. I also learned how to know if a fritillaria bulb — and presumably most any flower bulb — is non-viable (pull gently outward from the center of the root end to see if it easily comes apart. And even if it does, it might be OK, but it very well might not.). I also attended an on-line webinar on Maine’s birds given by Nick Lund at Maine Audubon.

Four of Maine’s rarest birds: Steller’s Sea Eagle, Bicknell’s Thrush, Puffin, Great Black Hawk – 18 Oct.
  • Tend & Maintain: cleaning stuff, replacing supplies, car or bike maintenance, stuff to prevent failure/breaking/hassle down the line

I pulled more bittersweet vine on Thursday. I also added more bark mulch around some of the new shrubs and trees. Husband collected all the weeding and pruning piles I’d made over the last week or so and tarped them away to our brush area on Wednesday. There will be more. I went to my 6-month dermatology check-up on Friday.

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

Quite a bit of socialising this week: The Monday dinner here with a friend’s daughter who is now a friend and her husband, whom we are just getting to know; a friend over for elevenses (leftovers and N/A mimosas) on Wednesday (she brought me flowers!); permaculture meeting on Zoom on Thursday (6 of us, continuing to discuss The Backyard Parables by Margaret Roach); my in-person salon group on Friday; and on Saturday my husband met a friend to drive their little British cars on backroads for a couple of hours and enjoy the last Polyculture Brewing beer garden of the year — it was sunny and 67F, a rare warm day for us in late October. All these things strengthen our connection to the community. A bunch of friends and family have contracted Covid this week or recently, and we’ve tried to keep in touch with them through email, texts, and calls.

flowers from friend – 19 Oct.

Featured image: chipmunk getting ready for winter today

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