The Nor’easter of October 2011 hit our town pretty badly. Actually, it was just a small snowstorm, not too heavy, not long-lasting. But the trees were not ready for it. It was only the fourth time that there was snow before Halloween in NYC since the civil war! Add to that that the trees now “think” (for good reasons) that it’s summer at the end of October…

So they were still flush with green leaves, which had only just started turning. The snow stuck to them and that’s what weighed them down. This was the view out my living room window the morning after the storm.

Gorgeous, but dangerous. None of those trunks or branches are usually that diagonal. Several tops snapped off after the picture was taken.

The night before this picture was taken, the night of the storm, I lay awake in bed listening to the creaking and straining of the trees, the tearing of wood fibers, then the crack, then whoosh and finally thump of limbs and branches crashing to the ground. After a couple of hours of this, you just fall asleep from exhaustion, your brain telling you: que sera, sera.

None hit the house, the cars, the roof with the panels. But the hoop house was hit, and two of our fences (metal) are beyond repair. The veg garden is a mess.

There are still a lot of snapped limbs – some the size of small trees – hanging in the canopy, waiting for a good gust of wind to tear them loose. It’s the reason why Halloween is canceled!

Well, to be precise: the town is leaving it up to the discretion of the parents but advises to do an “alternative Halloween”. DH and I know what swords are hanging above our heads, so we’re not letting Amie venture outside.

Another reason for canceling Halloween is that, after over 50 hours, 25% of the town’s population still doesn’t have power back. School was canceled today too, and Amie’s elementary school might still be out of power tomorrow. 56% of people in my town were without power.

We were among them. The evening of the stormwe heard a loud thump and then the power was out.  Our solar is entirely grid-tied. The grid goes down, all our solar harvest gets diverted into the ground.

But we were prepared with one head lamp each with batteries that are always charged.

We also had our trusted stove – the best investment we ever made – and lots of wood! It provided heat, crucial because the temperature dropped to 25 F the following night. The town opened an emergency shelter in one of the schools.

The stove also allowed hot water for washing dishes and even for a bucket shower with shampoo, and for tea. I also made a wonderful stew on it of garden vegetables and sausage.

Our power was restored after 40 hours. Not too bad, compared to last time (after Irene), which was a little over two months ago. That time we were without electricity for 6 days. So we knew the drill (it was warmer then and I cooked outside on the camping stove).

With the way the economy is going I don’t see all those wires and cables going underground, as they are in most of Europe. So we’re looking into battery backup for our solar.

{UPDATE} When I told Amie we couldn’t go trick or treating she burst into tears, so we went along the safe side of the street, just 10 or so houses. She also opened the door and doled out a lot of candy. So she was happy. Not our usual Halloween, but some of it, anyway. Many people from the North of our town, which is still without electricity, came to our neighborhoods.

Last week Thursday a group of us from Transition Wayland carpooled and took the train into Boston to add our numbers to the 99% at Dewey Square.  The special occasion was Bill McKibben’s visit. He was there to let the 99% know that the 1% is ruining it for the 100% for the sake of quick profit. He had some choice words about and for President Obama, especially about the XL Pipeline and the exploitation of the Alberta Tar Sands, which, according the NASA climate specialist Jim Hansen, would mean “GAME OVER FOR THE CLIMATE”.

Here’s the video I shot:

In other news, we burned our first fire in the wood stove. The perfect thing to redeem a  wet and chilly, gloomy day!

We brought in a little more than 1/3 of a cord of well-dried wood today. We still have a good two and a half cords under cover in the back yard, which should get us through the Winter. The trees that came down this year and that we’re still bucking will make for good dry wood next year.

We also scavenged three boxes of kindling from our property (thanks, Irene!).  Good (small anddry) kindling, I find, is worth as much as the firewood itself for getting a good fire going. Amie helped a lot with that so she wanted to pose with her handiwork.

Hanging above her is the drying sage.

We’ve still only had one night of frost here. Today was another rather balmy day. The tomatoes and peppers in the hoop house (still doorless) keep on growing and ripening.

This comes pretty close to what I was trying to say.

“It was the first follower that transformed a lone nut into a leader.
There is no movement without the first follower.
We’re told we all need to be leaders, but that would be really ineffective.
The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow.
When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first person to stand up and join in.”

Right there, behind the sunchokes

What with the flurry of activity/activism around here, the garden has been neglected somewhat. On top of that, the deer decided to cross from backyard where they usually hang out (an extensive wildlife corridor runs behind our property) to the front. In the front yard they ate the weeds and strawberry plants. Then they started browsing my veg garden, first defoliating the sweet potatoes, then finishing off the green beans and swish chard and trampling the carrots.

Trying to chase it away. It couldn’t be bothered!

Still, we had some harvests.

It was mainly green beans, peppers and eggplants. Tomatoes did extremely poorly this season.

the sweet potato bed once the deer were done with it

sweet potatoes, freshly dug

sweet potatoes, curing. Once washed it was obvious that there is a lot of vole damage on them.

deer-grazed chard

deer-grazed green beans (the end of our green beans)

Remember that beautiful elecampane? It grew enormous. All those flowers have now set seed – billions of seeds, some of which I harvested.

And then there is all that wood that came down in Spring. The pile originally looked like this:

I believe we’ve bucked half of that now. Our property is lined with sawed logs, waiting to be split (we’ll rent a splitter). Amie is very much into counting and tallying these days. She counted 157 of these! In the picture she’s wearing ear protection because DH was running the chain saw.


Today I read this article about leaderless movements like Occupy Wall Street. The article itself doesn’t quite deliver on its promise (“The history of leaderless movements”), but it got me thinking.

When’s the last time you were part of a leaderless movement? Can you remember? No guru, no one spokesperson, no one hero or “example”?

Some of you were probably part of such a movement, but you didn’t notice. That’s because we are blind to it. We think that movements need leaders, or they can’t go anywhere, right? I mean, if there is no leader then who is the movement going to follow?

But a following is not a movement. It’s a mob.

Oftentimes people regale me with stories of brilliant and wise or exceptionally good people. I always thought, hey, kudos to them. But now that I’m in this “let’s move” mode, when most of my conscious thought is driven by The Work that is Urgent,  I’ve become mentally allergic to such stories. People on the pedestal are anathema to the empowerment of the many, of all. They are the ideal we can’t attain. They also absolve us of our own empowerment and decision making, and all that comes with it, like responsibility and sacrifice.

Now I know why I am drawn to that saying: we are the people we’ve been waiting for! “We”: you and I, all of us, we’re all heroes. We should be.

All we need to do is move. Move ourselves.

I realize that when I introduce Transition, I usually invoke Rob Hopkins. Though I try to stress that he’s a normal person like you and I, I still always end up implying that he’s a saint. I’m going to quit that. I’m going to stress: Transition is what *you* do, when you volunteer to restore that apple orchard, when you grow your own food, when you walk or bike instead of drive, etc.

The movement is not in or because of Rob Hopkins. Or Richard Heinberg or Joel Salatin or Bill McKibben. Yes, they are exceptional people, or rather, they have an exceptional grasp of what is going on and what we need to do. Yes, we should listen to what they have to say.

But they must not be our leaders. If they are, then it’s not us, moving, making a movement, leading ourselves. We can adopt their ideas, their principles, but real, lasting action will only come out of that if we make them our own.