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 better match my own life and community; I may continue to tinker with the framework as time goes on.
Plant something: plant, start something
Planted 25 apricot parrot tulip bulbs and 3 Aurora Maxima Crown Imperial Fritillaria (all ordered in June from Fedco) on Wednesday. I haven’t had success with these fritillaria before and unfortunately I read after I planted them that the notch in the top of the bulb collects water and often rots the bulb, so they should be planted upright but on a slight angle, which I doubt I did. We’ll see!
Next week: garlic planting.
Harvest something: harvest, forage, glean, or bring to fruition
I harvested some cherry tomatoes, nothing else.
A couple of things were sort of brought to fruition this week:
The scrap metal guy was called on Wednesday and came a few hours later to take away the 1998 Honda Civic I’ve been happily driving for more than 15 years. That was sad — the engine was in a good shape, though the body was dangerously compromised in places — but hopefully the scrap metal and/or parts will be useful somewhere else. We got a couple hundred dollars for it.
Also on Wednesday, around the same time, we released a (male) monarch I’d found last Sunday, which seemed to have just eclosed on a windy, 50°F day when he couldn’t work his wings to move fluid through his body. We brought him inside and kept him semi-warm (60ish, about as warm as we were), feeding him rotted fruit and fruit juice or honey water on a sponge as directed by online sources. I was surprised every morning that he was alive. We saw him use his wings once or twice but not fully and he seemed to prefer walking.
Wednesday was comparatively warm (high of 56°F, as was Thursday, high of 61°F), sunnyish, and not windy, so we brought the monarch out in his bucket around noon, placing a stick extending from the bottom of the bucket, where he liked to hang out, to the rim of the bucket, which was positioned under flowering asters. He climbed up the stick fairly readily but soon afterward we found him walking on the ground. He was placed on the asters (and fell again), was fed again on the ground for an hour or so, and eventually was placed on the one new goldenrod flower to bloom this week, where he remained for about a half hour, seemingly feeding and also fighting off a pesky bumblebee, which gave his wings practice moving. At just about 3:30, he flew off, a little wobbly, finally soaring across the street and high above the neighbour’s tall tree, which was our last view of him. Sure hope he headed south before the cold and the rains (starting late Friday) arrived.
Preserve something: food, local community resources
Food: After saying last week that I wouldn’t be preserving anything more until next year, I bought some locally grown basil and processed it on Thursday with garlic harvested from my garden, plus pine nuts from the local co-op, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to make a batch of pesto, which I’ve frozen for future use. I may make another batch in the next week or so, if there’s local basil available.
Local Resources: Shopped at local farm stand on Wednesday and Saturday, at local bakery on Friday, and at area (local) co-op on Tuesday. Also at local (small chain) hardware store on Wednesday.
Waste Not: reduce waste, reuse, salvage & repair, give away
My husband repaired the snowblower — replaced the roll pin on the chute control — on Thursday. He hemmed his jeans on Sunday. We hope the Civic parts/metal will be reused in some way.
Keep Stocked Up: with food and emergency supplies, financial resources, and experiences that make life worth living
Supplies: I’m trying to order a few clothing items during major online sales now for this winter but I’ve returned five of nine items ordered so far, leaving me with one nice top, one new (men’s) fleece top, and two shirts (one turtleneck, one crewneck) that I’ll use under fleece or sweaters for extra warmth. I was hoping to add a sweater or two but nothing I tried worked. On Saturday I ordered five pairs of pants, including a fleece-lined pair; right now, 90% of my pants (all cargo style) are fairly thin nylon or heavy cotton, neither of which is really suitable for snowshoeing and winter walking in snow and windy cold, though they’re what I’ve worn for more than 10 years doing so. I hope there will be at least one winner among those five.
Half the Subscribe & Save monthly order arrived on Sunday, with cans of nuts, a couple of bags of birdseed (for birdfeeding starting in Nov/Dec, depending on snowfall and temperatures), protein bars, and vitamin C drops. On Thursday, 6 boxes of spicy chickpea papadums arrived — I have not been able to find them locally lately and we go through them quickly. Perhaps surprisingly, just 2 papadums have 20% of RDA for dietary fiber, 14% RDA for protein, and 12% RDA for iron, with no saturated fat and not much sodium, making them not only a good accompaniment for Indian dinners (premade or homemade) but also a good snack.
Financial: Well, we made $250 on the Civic, which was more than I expected. I spent over a half-hour on chat with two Amazon agents on Sunday trying to cancel an every-two-months auto-delivery that’s not part of my Subscribe & Save, and I believe it finally was cancelled! (It’s a savings of only $25 per delivery but it was annoying to keep receiving something that we wanted only once, about eight months ago).
Experiences: One walk in town, for about an hour on Monday, and another around the lake (three miles), on Thursday, where we saw one loon, six mallards, a garter snake (alive and moving!), and some dragonflies. The rest of the week was either busy or too rainy for walking.
Lots of birds in the yard this week. These are 15 species that the Merlin app heard within about a half hour on Friday:
And here are a couple of pictures of the white-crowned sparrow, a bird I’m not sure I’ve noticed before:
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
We ate leftovers about every other night. We had grilled swordfish (w/lemon-caper butter) with garlic-sautéed fingerlings and green beans on Tuesday, On Thursday, I made a tortellini dish with fresh spinach, fresh broccoli florets, bell peppers, and fresh basil, all from the local farmstand, and sautéed shrimp, with a lemon dressing; and for Friday’s dinner I added jarred artichoke hearts and more fresh spinach and tortellini to the leftovers. I made a tuna noodle casserole on Saturday (this recipe, cut in half), using local peppers and local scallions, which created leftovers for Sunday and Monday. It’s definitely the start of casserole and stew season here, though we may have a few more nights when we can grill before the snow flies.
Be Neighbourly: contribute to community support systems, look for ways to help neighbours and others
Chatted with a neighbour briefly outside about sports on Monday. Returned a neighbour’s dog to his house when we found him running loose on Wed. Ordered a Christmas wreath from a neighbour’s granddaugher on Sunday. Ordered a couple of comfort items on Friday for my sister and her husband in Virginia; he is undergoing chemo and its complications; one was delivered on Saturday, the other scheduled for Tuesday. Made a donation to Shelburne Farms (VT) on Sunday and to the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk to my sister’s team on Tuesday.
Skill up: learn new things, especially skills or knowledge that remind us of our place in the natural world and within the social fabric
Husband learned about roll pins (fixing the snowblower). He also found access points for Newfound stream on a fishing trip there on Friday. And he learned more about the new (used) Jeep — that it has swaybar links that need to be replaced — when he took it to be inspected on Monday. We both learned a lot in a short time about how to care for a monarch butterfly in the house. I can’t really say I “learned” about my place in the natural world through teaching, meditation, and small-group discussion during the Dharma Sunday Zoom “Rewilding the Soul” session (one of many this year) but I experienced something of it.
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
Bodies & Minds: We made appointments on Friday for Novavax Covid vaccines next week at a drugstore about 25 miles away. I had my semi-annual dermatologist appointment on Tuesday afternoon. I worked out 4 times (4 hours) and I got good sleep this week (a bit more than 8 hours per night on average, though one or two nights weren’t great). Really enjoyed (and recommend) James McBride’s novel The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store (2023).
Home, Garden, & Vehicles: The Jeep’s front windshield wipers were replaced during its inspection. I vacuumed the kitchen and bedroom on Monday, watered the houseplants on Wednesday, planted the bulbs on Wed., and did laundry on Friday. Husband took the car to be inspected on Monday and mowed the lawn on Wed. He also called the scrap metal dealer and got the Civic towed away on Wed. I backed up my computer on Sunday, which took me over two hours (hadn’t done it since late April, gasp).
Husband created an artpiece unloading the dishwasher one day this week.
Relationships: Talked with my sister for half-hour on Monday and a few minutes on Thursday and texted with her a few other times. Texted with my other sister pretty much daily to check on things and offer support. Permaculture group met on Zoom on Thursday morning, five of us to discuss chapter 5 of Out of the Woods, on noise pollution; we also planned a party for next Sunday evening. College group (6 of us) met via Zoom on Wednesday night for 1.5 hours to catch up. Made plans to have an outing with a friend next week. Got a postcard from a friend this 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’s 39°F as I type. We haven’t had a frost yet and some flowers are still blooming (a few will bloom after the frost, too).
Kale and parsley are happy as clams for the moment.
This milkweed tussock moth caterpillar (and its buddies) needs to get pupating. Apparently they have antifreeze in their blood that keeps them from freezing as they overwinter in a cocoon, to emerge as moths in the spring.
Chipmunks are fattening up and storing food in their underground burrows. They spend a lot of the winter down there but surface from time to time when the weather permits. The cat and I watched this one with interest from the sunroom on Friday.
We’ve reached peak fall colour and are a bit beyond it now, but it’s still dazzling in spots in the garden.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the friends we’ve lost and are losing lately, and about the short number of years we have left. Should we move closer to the ocean (but not too close)? We need to do it soon if we’re going to; in fact, we need to move any place we might want to move before we’re too old to do it. The task of cleaning out and cleaning up this house and moving seems daunting even now. And if we stay here, will we have any support, any friends left, since almost all of our local friends are a decade or more older than we are, and we don’t have kids, and we don’t have other family in the area? (I don’t regret any of those circumstances, they’re just facts.) These are some of the thoughts, among many more, that keep me awake nights, trying to take some steps to make my life better in the future. And this week, some of those awake hours were spent thinking about the monarch, wondering why it was here so late in the season, wondering how to give it the best chance to live, to at least fly and feel the air on its wings.
Featured image: On my drive back from the dermatologist on Tuesday.