My continuation of Sharon Astyk’s now-completed “Independence Days” project (June-Aug 2022), which offered a framework for recognising how we’re building resiliency, community, and accountability that will make our lives better now and in the future. Many of Sharon’s categories 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’ve modified Sharon’s categories to match my own life and community; I may continue to tinker with the framework as time goes on.
Plant something: plant, start something
Finally planted the Rose of Sharon sapling given to us by neighbours! It needed a sunny dry spot and most of the yard is wet, clay, and fairly shaded. I had hoped to dig just a small hole some place suitable but instead I had to take out a bunch of day lilies, which were stuck solidly into the ground with raspberries and old landscaping plastic someone before us spread over most of the yard. The shrub should eventually be about 10 feet high and 8 feet wide.
The daylilies I removed were replanted by my husband on the north side of the house. Here’s one patch:
This week I also started (and finished) a 5-day program called Emerging Into Connection: A Five-Day Lovingkindness Challenge by Sharon Salzberg, one of my favourite teachers. Each session included a 10-minute teaching, a 10-min. meditation, and some add-ons.
Harvest something: harvest, forage, glean, or bring to fruition
On Tuesday, we foraged Concord grapes that are growing on wild vines behind our house, and we harvested most of the hazelnuts on our two shrubs (95% were on one shrub), along with a chipmunk or squirrel who was also discreetly shaking down one of the shrub trunks. On Thursday, I harvested the few tomatoes that were slightly ripe, before forecasted cold and wind, and on Friday I harvested basil and a little mint for an orzo salad I made that evening.
We gleaned in a big way this week, a giant and beautifully made “office armoire,” a 65″hx64″wx22″d wooden desk with shelving, drawers, and file cabinets, originally sold at Room & Board in Minneapolis. A friend was emptying out her storage unit and generously offered it to us. Several of us (not me) tried to get it up the stairs in our house on Saturday morning but it wasn’t going, so it’s found its happy home as a fly-tying station in the living room.
Preserve something: food, local community resources
Food: Might be good to preserve the grapes by making juice or jam but I’m just eating them. The hazelnuts have been taken out of their sticky flowery husks but still remain to be shelled. I need to finish processing the now-dried garlic heads next week.
Local resources: Picked up take-out from local Chinese restaurant on Tuesday (and ate it for dinner through Thursday). Picked up goodies at the local bakery on Thursday, and on Friday we sat outside and had a snack there. Bought food at the local farmstand on Monday and Thursday.
Waste Not: reduce waste, reuse, salvage & repair, give away
Salvage and repair: The washing machine wouldn’t drain on Tuesday. It made a clanking sound that I heard across the house but then seemed to finish up OK, until I opened it and realised it was full of water. My husband used various weaponry to suck up the water, then he took the thing apart and found a piece of metal in the water pump (we still don’t know its origins). He put it all back together and it’s been working fine since then, fingers crossed.
Keep Stocked Up: with food and emergency supplies, financial resources, and experiences that make life worth living
I placed orders this week for some teas and vitamins from iHerb on Wed, and for 20 saffron crocus bulbs and a packet of Seed Savers Exchange Apollo arugula seeds from Rohrer Seeds on Thursday. I need to plant the crocus this coming week. My free Covid tests from Test-to-Treat (ordered online through an NIH project) arrived.
Our local library has been closed due to mold issues for several weeks, so I also bought a couple of books (both Agatha Christies), something I rarely do. Fortunately, this week the library staff decided they could do porch pick-up, which meant that the two books I had on hold became available to me. I do actually have some books in the house that I haven’t read but want to read, maybe 20 or so. But I panicked!
Stocking up on experiences:
seeing some new and familiar insects and others in the yard —
And a walk at The Fells on Sunday (took other walks in town on Monday, Thursday, and Friday):
Food Stuff: learn new food skills, try new recipes, use what’s available in the pantry, use what’s grown/made locally and what’s seasonal
Made a new recipe on Friday, an orzo salad with chickpeas, small tomatoes (locally grown), red onion, and fresh herbs (from the garden), something a friend had made for us for dinner a few weeks ago. It was great tasting + easy and quick to make — and would be easy to adapt for other seasonally available foods — so it will be added to the rotation. I made it with tri-coloured orzo that I’d added to my last Nuts.com order, and I like the look.
We had that with Old Bay grilled shrimp on the side. Otherwise it was leftover takeout (fish) on Monday, then takeout again (Chinese) on Tues. through Thurs., then leftovers of the orzo salad through Sunday.
Be Neighbourly: contribute to community support systems, look for ways to help neighbours and others
Husband volunteered at local car museum on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for a total of nine hours this week. I checked in with a local friend undergoing a breast cancer lumpectomy on Monday, with my sister concerning my brother-in-law’s health isssues, with a friend undergoing a hernia surgery, and with my other sister and her health issues.
Skill up: learn new things, especially skills or knowledge that remind us of our place in the natural world and within the social fabric
I learned where the water pump is in the washing machine. I learned that we can’t move oversized furniture onto the second floor of this house unless magic is involved. I learned much more than I want to know about searching for vehicles online.
Tend & Maintain: maintain our bodies, minds, and relationships to keep us resilient; and do what’s needed in the house, yard, and elsewhere to prevent failure/breaking/hassle down the line
I spent a few hours this week, mostly on Tuesday, in the garden pruning and weeding; much more needs to be done. Husband had a medical appointment on Monday; I had a hair cut. I meditated for 15 mins or so for five days, and I worked out on 4 days (4 hours). Husband went to the dump on Wednesday.
My permaculture group met online, six of us, on Thursday, to catch-up on our gardens and life in general. Salon group did not meet this week.
We (mainly my husband) spent a lot of time and energy this week looking for a new vehicle for me, as my 1998 Honda Civic isn’t road-worthy beyond in-town driving and it no longer makes financial sense to repair it (needs major body work). It’s been a bit of a roller coaster but we may have a viable candidate in our sights — we’ll see this coming week.
Winter is coming: notice Earth’s seasons and our own seasons of life and daily rhythms, and look ahead to what’s needed now to make life better in the future
It really feels like winter is approaching — there is a chill in the air, I’m back to long pants instead of a skort and woolen socks instead of footies,and I’m often adding a fleece in the evenings. I guess the A/C can come out of the bedroom window and we should order a cord or so of wood. There are still sunny afternoons when we can use the sunroom for reading and hanging out though, and I’ll be out there as long as I can be. And there are still sunny mornings when the carpet is warm and the cat luxuriates.
Monday was 9/11 — 22 years ago, which seems … long ago.
For us, it was two houses and two communities ago, and I still remember finding out about it while listening to Maine Public Radio, running into the family room to watch on the TV what was unfolding, me and the dogs (my husband was at work). That afternoon, I drove to a nearby town and spent an hour or so browsing in a used bookstore, just to be near people. Who knew then that this — whatever this is — would be our future, collectively and personally?