Everyone’s spirits seem to be lifted this week. The 30 to 40 degree temperatures are a tropical heat wave for Pete’s sake.

My vegetable garden is one great big puddle. The top layer of ice has melted but cannot soak into the frozen tundra underneath. In November, I planted a couple rows each of spinach and lettuce. It seemed the wrong time, what with the fading light and all. This past few weeks of bitter cold killed off all my big beautiful kale in the hoophouse. Wonder of wonders, the tiny baby lettuces and spinaches are doing just fine. I’ve said it many times — nature is grand.

Speaking of kale, my friend Sharlee is a genius (a stable one at that). Last summer she picked armloads of kale, then washed, dried and placed it on cookie sheets in the freezer. After a couple house she bagged it. It was crispy enough to be crumbled into a smoothie this week. I often treat basil in this manner but not kale. I have smugly assumed I would have plenty in the garden to pick all winter. I guess both assumption and smugness need to be removed from my character after this winter.

I rummaged around in the freezer and came across one of my home-raised chickens. It had worked its way to the bottom and was over a year old. Because I take a lot of care in the packaging of food it was perfectly fine — not a trace of freezer burn. I wrap in several layers of plastic wrap and then put it in a ziplock bag with all the air pushed out.

Often in bread making I use left over steel cut oats from breakfast. It makes a hardy whole grain bread interesting. This week I tried the same process with some brown rice. Don’t do it. For some reason, even though it was fully cooked before I started the bread, the individual grains of rice became hard again in the finished product. Guess that’s why they use rice flour. Next time I’ll chop the raw grains in the coffee grinder.

A word to the wise, Yaktrax do not work on pure ice. The little coils on the bottom act like ice skates. Also, a few years ago I fell in Shirley’s Hardware wearing them. And please do not try to drive a stick shift wearing them.

My friend Linda Farini said she made chili that was way too salty. A couple of large chunks of white potatoes cooked until soft and then removed save the day. Good to know, a real salt magnet if you will.

I’ve never put up a bird feeder. I have barn cats and never felt it was safe to lure birds to their possible demise. This last cold snap changed my mind. The poor things need all the help they can get. Plus, the cats are getting old and spend a lot of time on a down comforter in a big pile of hay. Anyway, within 10 minutes I had quite a few feathered friends. Clearly, they recognize hanging feeders. I’ve spent days in my house organizing and throwing things out. It’s so nice to be forced inside. I never get cabin fever since I rarely stay indoors. I found boxes of all the Organic Gardening magazines from the 1970s and 80s. This was when they were small and on newsprint. I think I will keep saving them. They have articles from Ruth Stout probably unavailable on the Google.

More from On Tyranny.

#5. Remember professional ethics. When political leaders set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become more important. It is hard to subvert a rule-of-law state without lawyers or to hold show trials without judges. Authoritarians need obedient civil servants, and concentration camp directors seek businessmen interested in cheap labor.

#6. Be wary of paramilitarism. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching with torches and pictures of a leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come.

#7. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, may God bless you and keep you but know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves one day doing irregular things. Be ready to say no.

#8. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. Remember Rosa Parks. The moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken and others will follow.