But I’m back now. The space between Christmas and New Year always feels like the right time to reflect on what’s gone before, and think about what might come next.
What’s gone before has for every one of us been a strange and difficult period. Normally I hesitate to make generalisations about ‘all of us’, but this time I feel justified.
Of course I acknowledge that for some of us it’s all been easier than for others, and that I’m among the privileged few for whom the impact and consequences of the pandemic have been relatively minor. But I can’t help but see the impact on all of those around me, both close and far away; dear to me and strangers. Many of the ‘catch-up’ calls and meetings with friends and family this year have reminded us of the devastating effect covid and the response to the pandemic have had on others. Friends and family whose mental health has been gravely impacted. Who’ve been left incapacitated by long covid; by unemployment; who’ve suffered bereavements; addictions; relationship breakdowns; separation due to the impossibility of travel; extreme loneliness. Far far more of this than in ‘normal’ years.
All of which is a powerful reminder that life is for living, and that those of us with choices have a responsibility to exercise those choices wisely and live life to the fullest.
So far this year I’ve written a grand total of 17 posts, most of them in the first half of the year. I’m hoping I’ll be able to improve on that next year. I’ve also spend a lot of time on Instagram, and I must say that I’ve learnt a huge amount by reading other people’s Instagram posts – about growing stuff, about food, and most of all about mending.
In the past two years I’ve adopted a word for the year – first it was enough in 2020, then food in 2021. Each time I learnt a lot from doing so – focussing pushed me to read, think and do differently. In different ways, each of those words have stuck with me. They’ve affected what I do, how I think, why I do things. They’ve been an opportunity to reflect and learn.
Building on that, my word for 2022 will be mending – I have such a pile of things that need to be mended, and I have accumulated some of the tools that will help me put them right. I next need to learn/improve some skills – I’m including here embroidery, sashiko, darning of various kinds, patching, sewing by hand and by machine.
Then there are social and relationship things that could/should be mended. And our (my) care of the wider world, reflecting on and responding to the climate and ecological emergency: for me that means most immediately how I tend my allotment and garden, my work at Bath City Farm, and of course the impacts how I live my life.
As always at this time of year, I have a whole ragbag of thoughts about what I would like to do in 2022, and if I list them all I know I will come back in due course and feel I’ve failed. So instead what I will do is to chronicle my successes and achievements here as I go along, and savour those.
But I will just make a note for future reference of what I think now that I’d like to do – without billing them as NY resolutions.
- Work through the pile of mending
- Read a chapter a day from my set of Dickens books
- Continue to reduce the amount of plastic and foil that come into the kitchen
- Continue to reduce what goes into our landfill bin
- Continue to sort through and give away things I no longer want or need
- Resume cycling as regular active transport (and maybe work up to buying an electric bike)
- Continue exploring my local area on foot (especially as I now have a bus pass to extend my range)
- Do a long-distance walk in Scotland (the one postponed from 2020 is already rebooked….)
- Continue to improve my allotment – I’m gradually transitioning it as much as I can to perennial foods
- Reduce my use of the freezer by bottling and dehydrating as much fruit as I can (aiming to provide myself with home-grown breakfast fruit all year around)
- Carry on sorting through paperwork at home, and getting rid of anything no longer needed/wanted
But most importantly of all, prioritise whenever I can measures to work against the climate emergency we have all helped cause. There’s a heck of a lot of mending needed there. In most cases, that will mean having/buying/going less not more. Sometimes even enough is too much.
[Images below are of various things I’ve made using leftover/donated materials, to sell to raise funds for Bath City Farm]