Technically, it’s the winter solstice that marks the longest night. But around here, it takes a little while longer before the days themselves actually get longer. Yesterday, Skipper began the ritual that tells us we are moving towards towards the increasing light of the new year: he adjusted the timer on the automatic chicken coop door up 10 minutes!
I know lots of people scoff at new year’s resolutions, and I think it’s because often making them feels like making an abstract list of things one should do, usually in order to become a “better” person by society’s standards in some way. It becomes a list of socially acknowledged flaws that one is supposed to overcome in order to more acceptable and therefore, instantly happier.
So, I’m long over that! I’m sure my list of social flaws is long, but most of the time, it doesn’t cross my mind to care. It’s AWESOME not being 20 any more!
Instead, I feel the ancient sense of reflection and rebirth that this time of year brings. I was telling a friend over the holidays that there’s something special about the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s the only time of year that the Skipper and I get holidays at the same time, unless we plan and schedule them to do something specific. The week at the end of the year, if you don’t fill it with shopping, is an odd kind of limbo space, neither the old year over nor the new year yet begun; an in-between, threshold time. It seems to me that to honour this time between cycles by reflecting on the year that’s been and making decisions that will impact the year-yet-to-be is worth doing.
I don’t know about you, but for all the debate about the significance of 2012, the year was intense! It was a year of huge growth, awakenings, and emotional shifts for me and those around me. I spent much of the year studying climate change and peak oil research, and then trying to learn how to be in despair and move through life in a functioning way at the same time. The good news? I’m getting the hang of it, I think!
Despite the despair, I’m happy with how the homestead evolved in 2012. We have a really good supply of winter food this year, which was one of my major goals. We expanded the vegetable beds, and learned a lot more about raising a small flock of chickens, including processing and eating the roosters. We started officially eating meat as a staple of our diet, including our first side of pork from a local farm. I canned with determination this year, and we have a stocked pantry to show for it. I’m feeling like I’ve got a handle on the vegetable production after 3 years, and I’m ready to take on some modest new projects.
So in 2013, my goals are about taking more baby steps toward resiliency. I mean baby steps, though. After the year that was, I’m not up for major projects…rainwater harvesting in a big way, for instance, will likely wait for another year.
My gardening goals are to renovate 3-4 small flower beds to include more medicinal and culinary herbs, as well as pollinator-attratcting flowers. In the last few years we’ve been taking out ornamentals to make room for vegetables, but it’s time to put some of the flowers back into the ecosystem.
I want to get a handle on using green manures and cover crops this year, and get a good supply of winter greens in the greenhouse for those frosty and snowy days when the crops under cover are frozen. Always hard to do in the heat of the summer, but would be so nice to have right now!! I’ll also be slowly building up the soil in the places where a few more future beds will go, but I’m not going to worry about planting them yet.
My last gardening goal is to start getting serious about seed saving. Buy a book, start with the easy plants (beans, peas, lettuce, tomatoes), where you don’t have to worry about cross-pollination, and actually select for the traits I want. In other words, start saving seeds from the first tomato that ripens, instead of the last straggler, which is the one we don’t want to eat!
Beyond the garden, I’d like to build a simple solar oven and learn to use it. When the summer days are too hot to cook, I want this to be my go-to option. I’m hoping that the Skipper also finds time this summer to build us a simple solar dehydrator. We have a few other small infrastructure building projects to work away on, so those 2 additions to our food production system seem reasonable.
Lastly, I’m feeling ready to take on the biggest step towards building more security in uncertain times. No, it’s not learning to hunt, or buying MRE’s to stash in the basement! It’s being willing to come OUT of my homestead, and start joining with others to build stronger community and social networks.
I’ve intellectually given this idea lip service for some time, and have certainly found like-minded friends and recognized the vital importance of their support. But too often, given an intensely social job, I have spent my off-time hiding, and in my moments of panic for the future, have busied myself in worrying only about my immediate family. But after some emotional processing and deep thinking, I am ready to embrace the fact that in my relationships with others lies not only my security, but also my well-being and release from panic. I’ll write more about this in another post, but here are my social goals for 2013.
I’m going to actively join and participate when possible two local groups working hard at resiliency: the Cowichan Green Community and Transition Cowichan.
I’m going to make sure that Skipper and I host at least one party for our immediate neighbours so that we can all meet and get to know each other better. And we’d also like to host at least one other gathering for all of those friends we have made across the local area. These are both things that we have talked about doing since we moved in, but it’s time to make them a reality. The key for me is to see them as joyfully celebratory, community-building fun, rather than another task I don’t have time for! If you’re reading this locally and would like to come, let me know!
To find the down-time to myself that I need in order to balance the extroverted job, I am also going to make a conscious effort this year to wean myself off of pointless internet surfing. I’m feeling conflicted about my screen-time these days; truly, the internet is a source of amazing information, community, and entertainment. We don’t have tv, don’t buy music, and love to learn. However, I spend a LOT of time at a computer for work, and I’m wary of the creep that happens between work hours and off-hours when I’m online in my off time. I also feel like the internet is another industrial grid-system that it isn’t good to be dependent on, which right now, it feels like we are. Clearly, this is totally out of habit and not necessity; the Skipper and I are both old enough to remember life without it very clearly!
I’m really aware, too, though, that the internet-suck is preventing me from having time to work on other, creative projects, to procrastinate less, housekeep more, and to build community with the actual people around me, instead of the virtual people in other places–wonderful though you are and as much as I learn from you! Interestingly, I’m actually feeling like I want to blog more–that doesn’t count as an internet time-waste, LOL.
And the last thing that I want to free up time for by decreasing internet time is meditation. I don’t have a specific goal around this, although perhaps I should set one. I just know that some regular meditiation time keeps me calm, keeps my fears for the future in perspective, keeps me focused on the joys of my life as it is now, and reminds me that there are mysteries of the universe that I do not understand that may be working in ways that I cannot see. I know all of this keeps me much saner and healthier.
With all of this to look forward too, I’m ready to move into 2013 with excitement and anticipation. Here’s to sunny skies ahead for all of us!