Poor Marianne. We let the Dashwoods out of the run to cruise the garden this morning. After a couple of hours I asked Bookman if he had seen Marianne wandering around at all. No, he hadn’t seen her either. He put on his coat and boots and went to check things out. We hadn’t realized it was a little breezy and the run door had blown closed with Marianne inside and the others outside. Don’t feel too badly for Marianne though because she got most of the purple cabbage we had hung up all to herself. Nonetheless, she had to complain and followed Bookman all the way back to the house just to make sure he knew the accidental solitary confinement was not appreciated even if there was cabbage for company.

Paper pot making continues. Seed starting begins the weekend of the 18th and 19th with peppers. We also got the save the date card in the mail for the big plant sale we attend every year in May. It’s surprising how a simple postcard with a date on it gets me all charged up. I’ve begun a list of plants I am interested in, mostly for the chicken garden at the moment. Once spring arrives and I can figure out if anything survived on the coop green roof, then I can start planning that space too. Such fun. I love this time of year when I can imagine all sorts of garden schemes but don’t yet have to do any of the work or face up to any failures.

Bookman and I stepped outside our comfort zone Wednesday night. The Transition Longfellow group had their first book group meeting of the year and we went. The book is called Making Home by Sharon Astyk and we will take the whole year to read and discuss it. It’s basically a book about transition — creating a resilient family/community, food security, energy saving, financial security — that kind of thing. It’s about problem-solving and settling in place instead of running away.

We didn’t have the book before the meeting but that was ok, the meeting information said we didn’t have to. The reason why became clear soon after the meeting got started. The hour and a half was spent reading the first chapter out loud. There ended up being about 15 – 20 people at the meeting and four or five people volunteered to read. At first I was really grumpy about this. I can read the book myself, why are we wasting time like this? But then as I looked around at everyone listening, nodding their heads, smiling, marking in copies of their own books, laughing out loud at funny parts, sharing this time and this experience, creating community, it dawned on me that this is part of what transition is all about. I relaxed, lost my hurry and grumpiness and really enjoyed the evening. Bookman did too.

The group meets twice a month (every other week). The first meeting is to read the chapter, the second meeting is for discussion. Our first meeting was at the wonderful Moon Palace Books our discussion meeting is next door to the bookshop at Peace Coffee. People were friendly and welcoming and not everyone knew each other so Bookman and I were not the only newbies. We bought a copy of the book for ourselves from Moon Palace and I will be reading the chapter myself and marking it up for the discussion.

When we got in the car afterwards to go home (once it warms up we will be cycling to meetings) I remarked to Bookman that it was kind of an older crowd. What did you expect, he asked? I thought there would be a wider age range, you know, thirty-something and up instead of mostly well into middle-age and older. Then Bookman says to me, well at least half the people in this car right now are over fifty.

Thankfully Bookman is a good sport and we had a laugh about it. It’s not like I am that far from fifty myself, I am going to be 49 in April, but I don’t feel that old and I forget just what my age is most of the time knowing vaguely that I am forty-something but unable to pin it down until forced to stop and think about it. I am fortunate that way; to be healthy, strong and active, which makes it easy for me to forget that others around my age are not as lucky.

I am happy to have this group to look forward to going to now especially since this last week Congress repealed a regulation restricting coal companies from dumping mining waste into lakes and streams. This is supposed to make coal mining easier and cheaper. What it does is shift the cost of mining to all the people living downstream, the ones whose rivers and wells will now be polluted and which they will have to pay to clean up. This is how “cheap energy” is created.

Our current energy infrastructure makes it impossible to boycott the coal industry but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything. We can. Each of us can change our habits and reduce our energy usage to make coal not as profitable. We can ask our electric companies to obtain more energy from renewable sources like wind and solar. And, of course, we can contact congress and put them on the spot, ask why they care more about coal company profits than the health and well-being of the people who live near mines. Make ‘em squirm, let them know you are watching and know what they are up to.