As the air chills and the canner boils, the time is ripe for reviewing our garden successes and failures. We need this information before we can decide on our next seed order. I always think I’ll remember which variety fo pepper produced prolific and which broccoli was a bust but I never do. They only thing that works for me is to write it down. I also keep track of things like frost dates. All of this won’t matter much if you are just doing a couple of pots of tomatoes on your patio but when you plan to get most of your calories from your backyard, notes like this can spell the difference between good eating and supermarket food.

Actually, reviewing success is a good idea for many things. As most of you know, I am part of a sustainability group. We have had tremendous success with our bag share, our permaculture group, our sewing center and our film series. The library continues to provide residents with access to the best books on all subjects relating to living lightly. Lots of things have worked well but the monthly meetings were falling by the wayside. To revitalize them, the format has been changed to provide a bi-monthly topic tp be explored by a few members with expertise. I spoke on food security last month while another member talked about permaculture as it relates to it. A third member, (the Peak Shrink) gave us a brief overview of her upcoming Northwest speaking tour. It was a lively meeting and generated great discussion. In October, my DH is going to do a talk on what it takes to get started in bee keeping. Other topics may include hilltown transportation options and maybe a segment on heating with wood.

I am no spring chicken so when thinking about getting around should we not have access to gas or should it becomes too expensive for us to purchase, I get a little nervous. I walk a lot and I have always had a bicycle but we live in the hills and there is no way I can get far. So I was delighted to spend yesterday with my family at a bike clinic. I got to try our an electric assist bike. It was way cool! I could zip up hills that would have defeated me without the little kick. The couple who put on the clinic are amazing and real bike experts. On of their projects was to connect with our transfer station. They put up a notice asking for bike donations. They then refurbish the good bikes and give them out. In this way, Phoebe was able to upgrade from her little bike to a real 7 speed mountain bike. She got enough lessons to now be able to use the hand breaks and to shift. Not bad for her first day. There were other neat things. One couple had a tandem bike and there was a very neat bike trailer, large enough to haul a few bales of hay and some buckets. I am getting all sorts of ideas about a small trailer that would let me get bigger Creamery orders home without using the car.

I know that such small steps from a few people will not alter the course of history but they might alter the course of my history and that’s the point. If I can get around my town with a bike that can be recharged with a solar array, that will mean a lot. It pleases me no end to see Phoebe see her bike as a resource, especially as it cost nothing but the labor and used something that was otherwise headed for the landfill or was going to rust away in some forgotten corner.

The next thing my group needs to explore is barter. I feel as though our bike expert is giving freely of his time and he should be compensated for it but I know taking money is not what he want to do. But I know I could get him to accept some pork chops of a dozen eggs or some honey, all things that I have. It’s a new world we are imagining here, complicated by our return to simplicity. We have to learn to establish ties based on mutual need and sharing, things that have been long neglected.

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