Deep winter has settled over the Vineyard with its pale colors and subtle shifts: more daylight, early morning lavender sunrises changing to deep salmon sunsets by late afternoon, inky night skies splashed with the constellations of January. The big dipper is a friend to follow these days, while geese hunker down for the night around ponds and farm fields.

Islanders are hunkered down too — this is January after all, and the ongoing pandemic has ushered in an even deeper off-season quiet than usual, especially down-Island, where many year-round restaurants have decided to close this winter, purely as a matter of economic survival. Until the spring equinox arrives, homemade soups, strong coffee and the warmth of the wood stove will have to suffice.

In West Tisbury on the north shore you can hear the sound of the horn on the ferry as she moves in and out of port in Vineyard Haven, a reminder that however scattered we are on the Island, we are never all that far apart.

At the old farmhouse, a colorful family of cardinals has taken up residence in the hedgerow, oblivious to social distancing, filling the air with their chatter and cheering us on gray days.

Call them the busybodies of January.