Back in the day (probably the late seventies/early eighties) I worked many a breakfast shift at the Black Dog Tavern. It was not uncommon in those days, mid-winter, to watch the Coast Guard ice cutters clear a path in the Vineyard Haven harbor for the 7 a.m. ferry. It’s beginning to feel a lot like those bygone days. It’s been many years since we’ve had such a stretch of below freezing temperatures. In fact I heard on NPR that Tuesday tied the record set in Boston in 1918. It’s been days on end of downright cold.

I’m a fairly hardy type, what with that Western Pennsylvania upbringing. But even I’m getting a bit weary. Heating solely with wood is challenging at best but I’m rapidly diminishing the wood pile that was meant to last all winter. Yikes!

Also, having outdoor animals is quite a project in the morning. Fortunately, my chicken waterers are all rubber so I toss them around vigorously to bust up the ice. This needs to happen a couple times a day. I took a peek into my hoophouse. Everything is lying down in agony. I have hope, however, for revival if we could ever get out of the teens and single digits.

Oh, the icing on the cake of my week was Monday morning’s frozen pipes. Thanks to slowly heating them I did not experience any leaks. It was a close call, nevertheless.

Jefferson at the Larder is open on Saturday and Sunday for a few more weeks. Then he will take a deserved month or so off. I bought the last of his tiny cabbages and a smoked turkey wing. I cooked the wing until the meat fell off the bone and made a sauté of the cabbages, a daikon radish, some cubes of butternut squash and the tender turkey meat. It was yummy in a New England boiled dinner sort of way.

Rusty at Ghost Island Farm will also be open on weekends. He has lots of his own kale, spinach, and pea shoots. As you can see all I’ve got this week about gardening is eating. Eating is always good.

I’m observing all the turkeys on Skiff avenue and the crows around the Vineyard Haven Post Office. I cannot but wonder how they stand the cold with those bare legs. Brrr, poor things.

As promised last week I’m giving you four more of the 20 lessons from the 20th century from On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder.

#1 Do not obey in advance. Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do.

#2 Defend institutions. It is institutions that help us to preserve decency. They need our help as well. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you make them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions do not protect themselves. They fall one after the other unless each is defended from the beginning so choose an institution you care about — a court, a newspaper, a law, a labor union — and take its side.

#3 Beware of the one-party state. The parties that remade states and suppressed rivals were not omnipotent from the start. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their opponents. So support the multi-party system and defend the rules of democratic elections. Vote in local and state elections while you can. Consider running for office.

#4 Take responsibility for the fate of the world. The symbols of today enable the reality of tomorrow. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away, and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

Finally, a quote by Leszek Kolakowski: “In politics, being deceived is no excuse.”