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.)

I missed the last two weeks due to illness in our family but I’m back now. I’ll be including a few activities from the three weeks since I last posted but mostly will focus on this past week.

  • Plant something: plant, start something

Nothing planted or started. Well, I did buy a Christmas gift for friends a week or so ago, but no holiday thoughts since. Except we did string some holiday lights inside the house tonight.

  • Harvest something: harvest, forage or glean

Finally harvested what was left of the parsley (deer have been nibbling) on Tuesday when forecasted low was 23F one night — we dipped only to 26F but the parsley is rolled into a tight log in an airless plastic bag in the freezer.

  • Preserve something: food or local community resources

Preserved the parsley in the freezer — hopefully. Haven’t tried this method before.

Preserved local resources by eating outside at local bakery three times this month so far (of their 8 days open). Shopped at local farmstand twice this week (they were closed all of last week).

Preserved sanity with many walks — high temps have been above 60F (including 74F on 5 Nov!) ten times in the first thirteen days of November, very unusual, and we made the most of the mild weather. We’ve walked seven trails and a couple of in-town routes since the month started, including five this week.

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

Husband salvaged several items at the two town dumps (metal/brush and trash/recycling) in the last couple of weeks (on 1 Nov and 8 Nov), including a pink metal wheelbarrow, a small electric wall heater (like the other two we have), a set of 20# weights, and some classical music CDs.

“new” pink wheelbarrow, 8 Nov
  • Want Not: food and emergency supplies, increase economic security, reorganize to use/waste less

Husband spent quite a while on the phone on Wednesday with our cell carrier to tweak plans and reduce our monthly bill further by $30, which with other reductions a month or two ago reduces our bill by $50 from what it was in the summer. He also called the Wall Street Journal this week when his digital trial ended and was able to continue that very inexpensive trial for another year. I remembered to cancel my 14-day Ancestry free trial on Friday before it cost me $25/month. We need to come up with more ways to lower our heating/electric bill this winter.

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

Nothing too exciting in this category. On Friday, I made that leek-potato soup again (which lasts us at least three meals; used our thyme and chives), and I made buttermilk biscuits which at one time I made often but not in years. Last week I made guacamole, which I also hadn’t made in a while (avocados were 4 for $5).

bay leaves and thyme in cooking soup, 11 Nov
  • Caregiving/Mutual Aid: contribute to community support systems, volunteer, mutual aid, advocate

Our neighbour lent us his pickup and labour on Tuesday to take two big loads of dried-out invasive plants (mostly bittersweet and Virginia creeper that we pulled about a month ago) from our driveway to the brush dump. I planted garlic for friends recovering from illness last week (3 Nov). We moved some furniture and a multipiece concrete garden pond for a friend on Friday. We had a sympathy basket of fruit, cheese, and meat delivered on Wednesday to a friend whose wife (also our friend) died recently.

We both voted on Tuesday; in my town in NH we were voting for governor, U.S. Senator, U.S Representative, Executive Council member, State Senator, State Reps (2), Sherriff, County Attorney, County Treasurer, Register of the Deeds, Register of Probate, County Commissioner, and on two Constitutional Amendments, including this one: “Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the [state] constitution?” It’s asked every ten years pro forma and if passed, opens the door to major constitutional changes (it was soundly defeated 66%-34%).

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

I watched a really good webinar on “Tough Plants for the Northeast” by Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens at YouTube’s Native Plant Channel two weeks ago — I have some ideas for next year.

CMBG’s Andy Brand talking about buttonbush, 29 Oct

We watched a webinar from Shelburne Museum (VT) on mechanical toys and artistically crafted “action figures” on Wednesday evening. It was more interesting than I expected, which I love.

Because of the unseasonably warm weather, I’ve spent the last two weeks observing many insects on the perennial mums and asters still blooming here; it’s not only been warm enough for bumblebees (active at 50-55F) but also honey bees, many flower flies, tiny flies, beetles, spiders, and moths. With the help of iNaturalist and Facebook’s Bug Guide group, I’ve identified most of them and feel I am starting to be able to differentiate between them.

Starting today, our weather is much more seasonable — through the end of the month, highs are forecast to be 35-42°F with lows of 17-25°F) so there won’t be many insects around until spring again.

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

So much of this lately, with the gardening season coming to a close here. I spent about 8 hours cutting back, pruning, weeding, spreading leaf mulch, collecting fallen (rotting) apples, etc., over the last two weeks. I did leave a lot of seedheads, hollow stalks of varying sizes, and habitat for insects, birds, and other animals, and while we mulched some leaves — those that lay in heavy layers under two big trees — we left a lot of leaves on the lawn or raked them into the garden beds whole. Husband pruned the too-tall hazelnut on Tuesday as well as pruning some of the rhododendrons away from the house. He also cleared everything off the patio, brought in the concrete birdbaths and Japanese lantern, and removed a screen door in the sunroom. I still have a little more to do in the garden, but it’s mostly done.

I got my 5th Covid shot (the bivalent booster) on 29 Oct and my flu shot on 4 Nov.

church where Covid mobile clinic was held, 29 Oct

The cat had his annual vet visit (including rabies shot, parasite check, and nail trimming) on Tuesday afternoon, and his litter box was completely cleaned the same day.

unsuspecting cat on the morning of vet visit, 8 Nov.

Husband took both cars for their yearly inspection on Friday (both passed, yay! just had to have windshield wipers replaced on one). He changed the oil and oil filter in one of the vehicles today. The person doing the car inspection mentioned how well done the brake job was on our 1998 Civic, which husband had performed this year.

We both got haircuts on Tuesday morning this week (each of us masked, alone with stylist in salon).

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

Permaculture group continues meeting weekly on Thursdays for an hour online (discussing Margaret Roach’s The Backyard Parable), and conversation salon continues meeting weekly on Friday in person. Saw several friends briefly this week when we were helping them or when they were helping us (or delivering something to us). Texted, emailed, and messaged with a bunch of friends. College friend group met online last week (1 Nov). Husband spent time yesterday driving backroads with another friend who has a little British car. Invited four neighbours for dinner this coming Wednesday.

As of today, the weather definitely has that winter chill in the air.

featured image: double rainbow at Kezar Lake (NH) yesterday

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