Brrr, I’m not a big fan of single digits. This winter has been fairly mild up to this point so last Monday morning’s two degrees was a rude awakening.

I’m pretty hardy. Rew, Pa. was up the mountain from Bradford, which had the dubious distinction of the coldest spot in the nation on several occasions. Nevertheless, after several decades on the Vineyard, I’ve become accustomed to milder winters.

Heating with wood is quite a challenge. Aside from the physical work involved (thanks, Reuben) there is the waking up in the middle of the night to reload. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing quite like a cozy wood fire. Also, the big plus is lack of heating bills.

Way to go up-Island Cronig’s. They have been installing new solar panels on both sides of the entire roof. This is in addition to the panels covering the parking lot. Aside from the moral and environmental aspects, imagine the “free” electricity.

Also, I noticed a big installation on Middle Road. I need to use that road again to see exactly where.

In my travels to and fro this time of year, it’s difficult not to notice the incredible amount of lichen growing on trees. It’s been there all along but now, with no leaves, it appears everywhere.

I rang my son Jeremiah who knows a lot about trees. He gave me quite a bit of information. First of all, it is a symbiotic relationship and the lichen will not harm trees. The only possible bad effect is that it can hold moisture against the branches. A freeze could cause some minor breakage. Since it is rather unattractive one could spray liquid iron on some favorite ornamentals. I tend to rub it off here and there.

The fruit trees at the old Humphrey property at the corner of State Road end of North Road are simply covered with it. They seem other-worldly on a cloudy day.

For years, I’ve noticed the tiny building across from Polly Hill. Awhile ago it was overtaken by bittersweet. Now all that remains are a few weathered boards. I hope no one removes it. I’ve grown fond of watching nature win out.

Right before Monday’s big freeze I was able to worry several carrots out of the ground. They were huge, sweet and wonderful. I planted them in August and did not begin picking until around Thanksgiving. Hope I remember to repeat next August. I did beef up the bed with lime and Pro-Gro before planting. It really paid off.

My leeks, however, are a huge disappointment. They did not come through the cold unscathed. I have no one to blame but myself. I did not hill them or apply mulch. Poor things. Wonder if I will learn from this mistake next year. One can only hope.

Guess I should not have mentioned Ghost Island Farm. The spinach and kale flew off the shelves immediately. I was too late, just an hour after the opening time of 10 a.m. on Saturday. Good job, Rusty. It’s great to have local food in January.

Here we are, another week into the government shutdown. I would like to think it does not affect me. How naive I am. I hesitate to purchase lettuce now. Last year’s serious E.coli outbreak was detected by the government food inspection department. They either are not working or not getting paid now.

I’ve been thinking about our food system and the politics thereof. The mid-western farmers are suffering a one-two punch. First, the tariff war with China had wreaked havoc with the soybean exports. Now, the government shutdown is affecting loans and Trump’s bailout to them or should I say appeasement.

It will be interesting to see if they continue to support him. Perhaps, buyer’s remorse will set in before 2020.