Let me start by offering a thanks-at-large to the folk who read & shared my post soliciting funds for buying onion & saffron bulbs, and to those who could and did choose to help me exceed that goal! My goal was $155, and $218 ended up being donated. Looking at how much space is available for planting, I'm going to go ahead and increase the amount of onions in the order. I mentioned in a subscriber-only update, but I'm working to set up a robust digital ledger for my practices, and so hopefully, I can keep y'all updated about what comes from this purchase! Reading that sentence back, "robust digital ledger," sounds like I'm being euphemastic about using a blockchain, and that's not the case; the software being used is Emacs, Org-mode, and Beancount. Anyway, here's what I wrote before checking my email and seeing that y'all brought me past my goal:
I've been encouraged by some folk close to me to be more proactive in discussing my disabilities & how those affect my work. I was in a severe accident several years back and while my recovery has far exceeded the expectations set by the medical care I received, it's still something that usually is shaping some part of my minute-to-minute life.
For example, this morning, I've been up for a couple hours already, with nausea caused by… bodies being complex systems. These quirks of my body - the nausea is just one - end up shaping my praxis: what I can do, and what I can succeed at, is different because of them.
I'm thinking about it this morning because last October, I stumbled while in pain, and fell, hitting my shin (which is permanently deformed) against a stone. It might not sound like much, for those of you who are younger or able, reading this, but for perspective, there's still a painful bruise where my shin met the stone.
Unfortunately, shortly before falling, I had about 40 cubic yards of mulch dropped onto the front lawn of the house we rent, with plans to move it into the backyard to build out the paths. Having a mountain of mulch violates this city's "Unified Development Ordinance," so in recognition of that and the severity of the fall, I reached out to… basically everyone I knew, in the area, asking if they would be able to come help move woodchips.
A couple weeks passed and no one was able to bring themselves to help with the woodchips, so I resumed, limping and stumbling around trying to get it done. It was a challenging exercise in not feeling self-conscious around neighbors, and in the end, I couldn't really do it, and we ended up suffering a lot of damage in other parts of the garden because I was too focused on moving the woodchips through the pain, not like, getting our winter crops in the ground.
The big misfortune would come in the spring, though. Our landlords, eighteen months after I installed the first trees, emailed us, specifying that they hadn't yet noticed the garden, and that we tenants had to remove it. In fact - they clarified - we never actually had permission to install trees or do much of anything that we did - only a miscommunication between us as tenants had led to me thinking I did.
A literal NIMBY. Fake quote from them: "Garden of perennial flowers, herbs, and trees, that requires no mowing or weeding, reduces soil elasticity that's damaging the foundation, plantings to accommodate our broken gutters we won't fix, and a source of food and herbs for all future tenants? No, restore it to the weeds and sand it was when you got here."
I reckon a few folk reading this have done a lawn-to-food-forest conversion. You know it's not easy: everything has to be designed for that particular bit of land, installing a garden around existing stuff is hard, and I also did it all with just hand-tools. Removing something like that… I mean, it's nearly impossible: after nearly 2 years of bioregeneration, I simply can't make the soil here as dead as it was!
But that's been, roughly, my goal since spring: move our garden out of this lawn, and into containers. We've been making good progress with that. I'm glad I spent so much of the time with this garden working to make soil, because that's what we're now using to fill containers to transplant our trees into. I've had a few plants die on me, but on the whole, my efforts to mobilize this garden are going well, but slowly. And I'm horribly behind on other chores - I don't know the last time I managed to mop inside, or catch up on dirty dishes. And life goes on in other ways. Our HVAC system breaks at least once a month. A tree fell on our house… more than two months ago, and the landlord hasn't done more than put some tarpaper over the massive holes. Land and sea continue to break temperature records, smoke and dust from wildfires across the world fill the sky here often enough to call it routine, and all around, deciduous hardwoods and native grasses are drying out, introducing wildfire risks for our own region.
Meanwhile, I'm still working to mobilize the garden, and find a new home for it and us. It's an unusual project, and one I only have to do because of a combination of coercion and complacency from settlers and their institutions, the same attitudes leaving us with a disrepaired home & weirding climate. But I guess that describes most of life for anyone with an anti-colonial orientation.
emsenn’s letters to the Web is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.