I think I may be functionally illiterate. Now, granted, I am a college-educated woman with a working knowledge of the English language. This fact, however, does not qualify me to read and actually understand directions. To wit: I purchased a small Mantis tiller to help in the weeding of my rather large vegetable garden. I paid the extra $30 to have it assembled at the factory and I still needed my son to get it going the first time. I got that glazed-over expression similar to my reaction to my mechanic’s explanation of anything under the hood of my truck. Nonetheless, I think I may get quite a bit of use out of this new piece of equipment. In the eighties I had a Troy-Bilt Pony which eventually ripped my arm out of its socket every time I started it. It became so irritating I put it on the side of the road where some landscaper happily made off with it.

I can’t remember a Halloween night with more perfect weather. The warm wind combined with a mist-enshrouded full moon made for a memorable evening. The people in the William street and town hall area of Vineyard Haven should receive a subsidy. Roger Spinney reported close to 600 trick-or-treaters. Later that evening my granddaughter, Violet, and I went on the hayride from the Agricultural Hall into the West Tisbury cemetery. Quite a number of undead scared us half to death. Most of the children were so frightened, they begged to do it again. Freddie Fisher has a handsome new team of horses who took their job in stride.

My enormous shipment of bulbs arrived. I poured them out all over my kitchen to divide among my friend Marie, the First Baptist church and my already over-crowded gardens. I enjoyed the task up until I realized the paper-like skins on the bulbs were giving me some sort of allergic reaction. I became extremely itchy. Who knew? Then, in an attempt to clean up the mess, I discovered my vacuum cleaner no longer was working. Ordinarily I try to avoid things that suck but was dismayed this time. A trip to Jesse at Shirley’s Hardware is in order. That man can fix anything.

I simply could not resist temptation. The 50 to 75 per cent off sales at the nurseries finally worked. I purchased a few shrubs and some Japanese anemones. Hopefully I’ll get them planted before the ground freezes.

I love the time change. Being an early riser, it is nice to have light to go about my chores. The best part is that the day finally ends at a reasonable hour. I have time to make a nice meal and relax before I collapse.

Don’t be shy about cutting back the buddlea (a.k.a. butterfly bush). They will bloom on new growth next summer and are looking quite unkempt right now. I cut them very hard and get rid of old wood right to the ground.

I have started fertilizing my evergreens and shrubs. I like to use Pro-holly. It can be done in the spring but it’s good to get a bit ahead with a few tasks. Spring can be so hectic that the trees and shrubs tend to get overlooked.

The winter rye has sprouted. There is the slightest green sheen in the vegetable garden. I think I might plant a bit more over the area just recently vacated by a couple of pigs. One of these days I’ll have to talk about the raising of pigs. They certainly do a wonderful job of preparing a garden. Obviously it takes more commitment than hens for eggs or even meat birds. Reader discretion may rule and you may have to ring me instead.

I’m dying to pick up a copy of Martin Sandler’s The Dust Bowl. This book will keep us from ever whining about the weather again. Apparently it didn’t rain for ten years and one summer in the thirties had 40 straight days of 100-degree-plus temperatures, including one of 118 degrees. On Black Sunday more dirt was moved in a storm from Kansas to New York than was moved to build the Panama Canal. I’m a history nut!