My favourite post-apocalyptic vegetable

It's been a busy month so I thought I would re-post my October newsletter for those who may not have yet subscribed. If you would like to stay abreast of what is happening in the world of Mordecai Crow as well as get a few sneak peaks of work in progress, click on the subscribe button at the bottom of this page.

I’ve decided butternut squash is now my post-apocalyptic vegetable of choice. 

I subscribe to a few comic creator newsletters and I'm in awe of their busy schedules, new releases, and appearances at comic conventions around the globe. But I don’t envy them. My fall is a bit simpler. My second book is now off to be prepared for printing and I am back in my happy space, having just pencilled and inked page 100 of the third Mordecai Crow volume. Which is why all my news this month is more about foraging and less about my book!

Working on Mordecai Crow has got me to thinking quite a bit about how one might survive in a post-apocalyptic world. So back to the butternut squash. We harvested almost 20 of these big beautiful brutes this year and after growing them last year discovered that they keep fine for most of the winter. That could be a nuclear winter, a "Golly, climate change caused the Gulf Stream to just stop!" sort of winter, or what have you. A long time. So now we are self-sufficient in both garlic and squash when the apocalypse comes. It’s a start.

The fact that we are half way through October and have not yet had a frost is one of the few upsides to climate change, meaning our garden lives to a healthy old age and now dies a natural death. Thirty years ago, when we first moved to the country, our garden would regularly be struck down mid-September by a killer frost, with us scrambling to save what we could and bringing bushels of green tomatoes indoors to ripen off the vine. Not anymore. It probably means nasty diseases, insects and other unforeseen horrors will also thrive while species that can’t adapt will perish. But at least our garden will do well - barring floods, droughts, fires…

October is also my favourite foraging month. Elm oyster mushrooms, one of my favourite mushrooms to forage as they are so easy to identify, come out in the first couple of weeks in October. My partner is not fond of them, so I find people to lure into foraging with me because it's a fun as an Easter egg hunt!
Here's a video that will help you identify them:

It’s also when the silver berries ripen, an introduced species that now grows wild - there are many related species that grow throughout the world, but they are not well known here. I know a sunny hillside in the woods where we picked two kilos of them in a short amount of time in early October and there were still bushels left for the bears and chipmunks (which the Internet tells me are our major rivals). 
Also known as autumn olive (for its leaf, not the berry) you can read about it here:

And this year my partner, on learning how good they are for you, began harvesting some of the black walnuts that surround our yard. They are surprisingly good, walnutty but a bit greener tasting and native to this area. But beware the dye in the husks which can turn your hands brown, even if you are wearing latex gloves, and be prepared to use a hammer to break through the shell!

Personally I would miss not being able to buy most of my groceries at the store, but I’m constantly surprised how novel the idea of foraging our food from the wild seems to be to so many people when every other wild species on the planet survives by doing exactly that. Of course, there are too many of us (a hunter gatherer group needs seven to 500 square miles to survive) but by every measure imaginable, hunter gathers were healthier, happier and longer-lived than their agrarian counterparts. Than us. So go forage…

Keeping up with Comics

Speaking of newsletters that I follow, I thought I would share a couple of my favourites. These aren't creator newsletters, but rather a great way to stay up to date with what is happening in the world of comics.

The Comics Journal

I really like this one. More my speed, not so much superheroes but rather indie comics and stuff that will never be franchised into a summer blockbuster. Here is their link with a newsletter subscription box part way down.

True North Country Comics Newsletter

John Swiminer, the driving force behind True North, not only produces a regular podcast with comic creators but also does a great round up of Canadian comic news in his regular newsletter, which can be subscribed to here: