There is nothing quite like a few 40-degree days in January. This is especially true for us gardening types, when the temperatures correspond with the arrival of seeds.

I’ve turned into a crazy person. I’ve seeded trays of leeks, onions, pea shoots, lavender (three varieties), thyme, sage, shallots and foxgloves. I set the propagating mats at a mere 60 degrees and was delighted to see some onions germinate in less than two weeks. Granted, a person of a certain age requires reading glasses to see the tiny sprouts. I wish I had more to offer this week but outside in the garden the warming trend only thawed about an inch down. The word permafrost comes to mind.

One fun discovery this week was the new growth on the kale in my hoophouse. I was less than hopeful after the big freeze. The plants were yellow limp, and downright sad.

On Saturday I noticed some new growth and promptly found a bucket on which to sit. I whiled away a perfectly good hour trimming away all the death. It looks like I may begin picking in a few weeks. Life is grand.

My friend, Marie, shared similar good news about her lacinate kale out in the open ground. Wow. Great news.

I did tend to a long-neglected task. I chopped the bittersweet from my garden fence. That stuff really gets away from a person. The problem for me is that all the fall berries will have fallen to the ground to sprout or be carried off by birds to another location. Word to the wise, those berries should be cut in the fall, bagged up and carted to the trash.

My friend, Sharlee, picked the rest of her beets in November, right before the weather turned. She cut the tops and put them in an unsealed plastic bag in the fridge. Her husband, Jack, turned them into borscht this past week. They were firm and delicious. Good to know, especially given the price of beets in the market.

One thing wonderful about Vineyard winter living is that much time can be spent hanging around with people. Most of us are too busy for much more than a smile and a nod once spring actually comes. I was delighted to spend last Friday evening with the Gazette staff at our annual non-holiday party. Honestly, a fine group of people and a credit to our free press.

Finally, here are the last four lesson from the 20th century from On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder. You know I’m itching to get back to weekly commentary. There is a wealth of material out there.

#17. Listen to dangerous words. Be alert to the use of the words, extremism and terrorism. Be alive to the fatal notions of emergency and exception. Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

#18. Be calm when the unthinkable happens. Modern tyranny is terror management. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that authoritarians exploit such events in order to consolidate power. The sudden disaster that requires the end of checks and balances, the dissolution of opposition parties, the suspension of freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Do not fall for it.

#19. Be a patriot. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.

#20. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die under tyranny.

There you have it.