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Monday, December 7, 2009

Independence Days - Sharon Astyk's Call To DO Something!

The cover to Sharon Astyk's new book, Independence Days, is a clever take off on a jar of canned pickles, but she writes about so much more than canning and/or pickles.  The theme however is very nicely used through out the book.  Gives a homey touch to a book that is about creating the depth of 'home.'  

It's been a wet Monday here in Los Angeles. Nice. There is a Kansan expression that is burned into my psyche, “Make hay while the sunshines.” This expression, and what it means, can kill a person in Los Angeles and I have to remember, “We're not in Kansas anymore...”

The expression is probably germane to all farming states and societies. The import is, you have to work the fields when you can work the fields – it might rain tomorrow and you'll be unable to work the fields. In a land that has an annual average of 38” of rain, this can be important when a single thundershower might ruin this year's harvest and therefore your family's chance for survival. This is the essence of the mid-West work ethic and it is instilled in their culture.

Coming to California where we go months without rain and trying to 'make hay' all those rainless days, takes its toll on a fellow. I still find, however, that I cannot truly relax, guilt free, unless it is raining enough to NOT work in the garden. Of course, other work, could be done, but there's that rain and I have a 'do nothing day' blank check – a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Today, has been uncommonly relaxing and I am really grateful.

Sharon Astyk has taught me a thing or two (at least!) about our 'ambiguous future.' I have finished reading her “A Nation of Farmers” and I am half way through “Independence Days.” The latter is predicated on a series of posts on her blog. This recent entry clarifies the reasoning behind Independence Days, both as a book title and as a movement.

Students of the Modern Backyard Food Production class will find Astyk informative and thought provoking, a resource and a challenge. I hope you enjoy this article and I hope you will create your own Independence Day form and check in with me or Sharon every so often to report what you are doing – little check-ins to help keep you on track.

Extension, by the way has assured me, you will be given your link to a course evaluation form very soon. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Orchid Black was your first guest speaker and Lora Hall (Ms. Chickens) was your second.  There will be space on the evaluation to rate them as well.  Both of them came out and brought their expertise and charm to our class without pay.  They did it for the love of doing it.

Next Sunday: Potluck. Hopefully we'll have that heater figured out. It works, believe me (please believe me?) but I need to go back and read the instructions. And I wasn't willing to do that with 30 students watching me. Call it insecurity...I'll see you on Sunday with your food in hand.  Yes, it's OK to use one of my recipes if you wish.  I, in fact, will use one of my recipes!  Probably something to do with petioles in a crust.  :-) 

You have been one of my favorite classes!  I will miss you all and our weekly get togethers!  I hope you can come 'round to The Learning Garden in the future or that I will see you in other classes.  If you know of venues where things I have to say should be said, please contact me.  Give my phone number and email address out freely - all the folks I don't want to have them already do have them, so it won't hurt.


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