April 26, 2014
Having decided the Empire has pretty much won the propaganda war over Russia concerning the Ukraine and that, whatever is going to happen will happen despite anything most of us can do about it, I’m doubling down in the gardening department and catching up on things around here as quickly as I can.
All of the starts I planted a couple of weeks ago are up, now, except for those tardy peppers. Even they are straggling upward to break through the soil, one by one. So, rather than throwing out the extra starts, I’ve been busy giving them little, cut-off soda bottle homes of their own.
Assuming they all survive to be transplanted, somewhere, and assuming they all take root wherever I plant them, and if they all grow to produce their fruits, (we’re already six inches behind in rain so far this year,) I should have enough to plant two gardens – “one for me and one for thee.” (The thee being anyone who can’t plant their own garden or pay supermarket prices for fresh veggies which, due to the ongoing droughts in the western US, may be pretty steep this year.) I might even be able to give away some transplants to neighbors if they want them.
While tending those things that have begun to grow in the early garden out back, in spite of our “can’t make up its mind” weather – mainly peas, lettuce, broccoli and cabbage and asparagus, so far – I’ve also been adding food scraps and other dried mass to the compost barrel, picked up most of the trash that blew into the yard this winter and have made arrangements for someone to mow the lawn through next fall and someone else to get started on repairs, a few at a time, and do upkeep that I can no longer do. And I’ve been thinking a lot about the predicaments we’re facing.
Although I have friends who have offered to help me do these things for free, I pay for these services. But, there’s a method to that madness. The people I pay are local to my neighborhood. Most of them have day jobs – some of which no longer pay what they used to – and, using skills they’ve acquired over the years, they pick up extra money, doing these chores I and others can no longer do, around their day jobs.
I can’t get out and walk the neighborhood like I used to; I can’t organize protests or community gatherings; I can’t even make phone calls or run errands for the neighborhood association since I don’t drive and my phone is now one of those “limited minutes,” government program phones (having quit trying to keep up with rising rates for even local service from the phone company).
But I can make friends of neighbors and build community by paying them the small amounts they charge me for their work. I can work to build community by sharing what I can with neighbors and friends.
I gave away the large bag of dog food I no longer had use for to a lady with a big dog who I’d never met until then – even though she had lived just down the street for twenty years. I’m building a “trash” pile of odds and ends I no longer need, the remnants of which the trash collector will haul away once I get it outside. I say, “remnants of which,” because this is a neighborhood where people who can use something you put out for trash feel free to take it from the pile (or knock on the door and ask if they can take it,) because they can fix it, sell it to someone who can fix it, or make something else useful out of it that I couldn’t even imagine. And, in this grossly wasteful society, those are good things.
These actions to support local economy and get to know my neighbors seem so miniscule compared to the overall struggle to change the way we live, such small potatoes in comparison to the massive corporate economy we struggle against, I sometimes feel foolish even writing about them. But they are a gardening of sorts, too, maybe as important to the struggle we’re in as what I plant in my yard.
We won’t all be a McKibben, or Heinburg, or Hopkins, or Greer. We can’t all do the big things. But we can all take those small steps (as many of them as we can find, as fast as we can) away from the corporatism, consumerism and waste which threatens our world; we can all do those small acts that add real value to our neighborhoods. We can all seek those small ways, whether literal or metaphorical, to just keep on gardening.