Here it is the first day of a brand new year. The day was simply beautiful, up into the 50s and sunny. I puttered around outdoors trying to make sense of my year. There are areas that bespeak my Appalachian upbringing. New Englanders are much more tidy around their homes than mountain folk. I’ve been trying in vain to fit in for almost 50 years.

My vegetable garden continues to grow weeds. What’s up with that? Skunks and raccoons have yet to hibernate. This week a skunk went off under my deck. Clearly, I am poorly insulated as the house still reeks a week later. It was so strong at first that I did not recognize it.

We polished off the rest of the refrigerator pickles. I put several quarts of them into the fridge mid-summer. I used my basic Dilly Bean solution — one cup apple-cider vinegar, three cups water, two tablespoons kosher salt, several cloves of garlic, and heads of dill. After heating I just pour over the cold cucumbers and refrigerate. They stay crisp until Christmas.

I picked the rest of the sugar beets — cleaned them but did not peel. Hopefully, they will last a few months in the fridge. Just one is plenty in a stew or stir fry. They are yummy but very sweet if too many are used.

My friend Marie gave me some Savoy cabbage seedlings in August. They never formed heads in the fall so I picked leaves here and there. They had a great cabbage flavor. On Christmas afternoon I picked all the rest and found adorable, perfect heads no bigger than ping-pong balls. We pretended they were brussels sprouts since my crop of them failed miserably.

Not too much stands out in my travels the past few weeks. There is a stunning andromeda on Lambert’s Cove Road at Fairwind Drive. It is the largest I’ve noticed around. Also, now that the leaves have fallen the remarkable amount of ivy is showing itself, up into the trees.

I honestly do not know why I bother. I tried in vain to keep a small patch of creeping thyme alive with zero success. I just noticed a fine patch growing happily in the driveway near my dead plants. Plants, it seems, are like most of my family members — they do whatever they want.

The Trump shutdown is so ridiculous. How can these people allow hard-working government employees to either work for no pay or simply not work? I would have no problem if everyone in Congress, the Cabinet, and the Trump children got no money or tax-supported healthcare. Trump made a huge deal about not going to Mar-a-Lago for vacation. So what! He goes all the time anyway.

The ultimate irony is that the Department of Homeland Security is closed. Irony just like empathy is lost on these people.

Texas congressman Louis Gohmert said he hoped the government shutdown lasted “until that well-know place freezes over,” unless Trump gets his wall. Wow!