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
Turned back clocks from daylight savings to standard time early this morning, thus heralding the end of summer. Plugged in the heated birdbath again on Monday, thus heralding winter. Came home from a 4-day trip to Maine to find the tender plants all frost-killed or damaged when temps descended to 23.9°F early Thursday morning. The cold season has started.
Harvest something: harvest, forage, glean, or bring to fruition
I was the conduit for one friend gleaning sourdough starter from another friend on Friday.
I guess our trip to southern Maine, from Monday through Thursday, was something we brought to fruition, though planned only 12 days before it happened. It’s nice to be able to get away for a few days on the almost-spur of the moment, even with planning for cat care and researching less-risky (vis-à-vis Covid) places to eat inside now that it’s usually too cold to eat outside.
Preserve something: food, local community resources
Local resources: We stayed in a small family-owned motel (our 7th stay there in 9 years) while away, and ate only in local restaurants (five meals total: two early dinners, two late lunches, one mid-morning snack). We ate our motel breakfasts — included; they have wonderful oatmeal, among other choices — in the room.
Back home, we bought treats from the local bakery here on Friday, ate outside there today, and would have shopped at the local farmstand but they’re closed this week. Also bought a small item at a Maine store in York on the way home.
Waste Not: reduce waste, reuse, salvage & repair, give away
Husband feels he ate many muffins at the motel — free, freshly baked in-house and different every day, along with coffee, tea, and cocoa all day — muffins that could have gone to waste had he not stepped up.
Keep Stocked Up: with food and emergency supplies, financial resources, and experiences that make life worth living
Supplies/finances: I’d ordered five pairs of pants on 21 Oct. and they arrived while we were gone. Yesterday I sent four of the pairs back, keeping the flannel-lined pair that I really needed and which actually fit the way I wanted and had good pockets. On Friday I took the first step in the onerous task of choosing my health insurance plan through the ACA yet again, for 2024, by starting to estimate our income for the year.
Experiences: Staying in an oceanfront room, even when it was rainy — just one afternoon — and breezy and cold, was lovely, the gentle periodic sound of the lapping waves, the cries of the gulls, the sight of the horizon. The closeness to the other side of the world. The proximity to the elastic undersea world.
There were hawks everywhere, including Cooper’s, red-tailed, a harrier, and merlins and/or kestrels. We saw multiple great blue herons and great egrets, black and mallard ducks, buffleheads, Canada geese, dunlins, semi-palamated plovers, greater yellowlegs, and red-breasted mergansers. And non-shorebirds, like bluebirds, warblers, mourning doves, red-bellied woodpeckers.
There were so many chipmunks I actually accidentally kicked one in the leaves on a trail.
We also enjoyed eating a few meals at our local favourites, timing our visits for off-hours and seeking out spacious (well-ventilated) venues to reduce risk of germ-spreading.
Today, back home, we took a walk to the cemetery in town to place smooth oval stones we picked up on Laudholm Beach on the headstones of two friends laid to rest there.
I’m in the middle of Richard Osman’s 4th Thursday Club Murder book, The Last Devil To Die, and really enjoying its wit, relationships, dialogue. We (re)watched Hitchcock’s Frenzy last night, which wasn’t exactly enjoyable — vicious sex killer graphically (for 1972) raping and strangling women — but it is a movie worth watching for, as always with Hitchcock, its psychological violence and undercurrents …. And for the unappetizing and downright creepy gelatinous exotic dishes the chief inspector’s wife serves him.
Tonight we rewatched Family Plot (1976), a sort of Hitchcock romp, starring Bruce Dern, Karen Black, William Devane, and Barbara Harris. I noticed some similarities to the Goldie Hawn-Chevy Chase film Foul Play (1978), a favourite of mine.
Another fun thing this week was that after 30 years of dining at Warren’s Lobster House in Kittery, Maine, on Monday our keys finally opened the “treasure chest” in the adjoining candy shop. What a surprise! Our winnings were $5 of candy and $5 of anything in the store. We bought jelly bellies, some other candy my husband chose, and a Warren’s pint glass to add to the one we already have.
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
Had some really good food this week, eating out: (the best) salad bar and coconut shrimp at Warren’s; roasted Brussels sprouts, Maine crabcakes, and nice negroni at Boathouse; mocha-pumpkin lattes, macarons, pastries, and tomato-basil-feta quiche at Mornings in Paris; and at Old Vines, bandade (cod) fritters, baked brie with apples and crostini, and a glass of “Golden Reserve” Trivento 2019 malbec, which is usually sold only by the bottle but was being sold by the glass (and 25% off) on Wednesday evening.
It was nice for me to not have to think of food to make every night. The night we got home, Thursday, I made cacio e pepe for me and husband had leftover pizza we’d frozen before we left, + a local red pepper. Friday it was canned soup (Progresso’s lentil/veg and beef stew) — using what’s in the pantry — with grilled cheese on our homemade bread. Saturday I served baked breaded haddock, along with sautéed local broccoli, local red bell peppers, onions, & our garlic, and leftover french fries from dinner at The Boathouse in Kennebunkport on Halloween (the thoughtful server even packed extra butter for me to dip them in). We had the rest of the fish for dinner tonight with rice pilaf and sautéed local spinach with our garlic.
Be Neighbourly: contribute to community support systems, look for ways to help neighbours and others
Husband helped neighbours/friends replace some guttering yesterday. On Friday we watered houseplants and brought in a package for neighbour/friend recovering from knee surgery in Boston. While we were out walking, we chatted for 5-10 minutes with a neighbour and her dog on Friday and again with another neighbour and her dog today. Connected a friend who had sourdough starter with a friend who needed some on Friday.
Skill up: learn new things, especially skills or knowledge that remind us of our place in the natural world and within the social fabric
We both got more practice with gull ID this week (Bonaparte’s vs. laughing, ring-billed vs. herring) and spotting the snow buntings and the horned larks, which are unusual birds for us to see. Also practiced hawk ID.
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: Husband had (minor) medical appt on Friday morning. While we were away, we got in more walking than usual per my FitBit: 25,100 steps (11 miles) on Tuesday, 23,200 steps (10 miles) on Wednesday, and 17,100 steps (7.5 miles) on Thursday.
Household: On Saturday, husband emptied, cleaned, and put away the dehumidifier, and he washed the filters of the air purifier. He also put up stakes outside around the septic system pump tank so we can find it under winter snow if necessary. Today he staked around the driveway so the snowblower knows its boundaries.
Relationships: Very randomly, while eating at a restaurant in Kennebunkport on Halloween, we ran into friends who live in Saratoga Springs, NY, who were visiting the area at the same time. What are the actual odds? We chatted and caught up with them for 10 minutes or so. Yesterday, I was able to give the last of my unused seed garlic to a local friend who decided at the last moment to plant garlic, and she & I also caught up for 10 minutes in our driveway. Had a 20-minute conversation with another friend in the driveway on Friday. I probably should have invited these friends out of the cold and in to tea but as I’ve been away and dining indoors, albeit with some mitigations, outside seemed best. No permaculture Zoom meeting for me this week, and Salon group didn’t meet this Friday.
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 one of those times in the yearly cycle when we can’t help but notice Earth’s seasons: the heat comes on; the flowers and foliage fade, wilt, or turn to mush; almost all the insects disappear; birds fly through in flocks on their way somewhere warmer, though a few stop here for winter; we prepare for snow and cold as the days get darker faster.
Also, eggnog shows up on grocery shelves.
Today we moved a woolly bear (Isabella tiger moth caterpillar) off the road while walking home from the cemetery; time to cover yourself with insulating leaf litter for the winter, little one.