Several family members have birthdays this month so there has been some serious cake-eating at our house. It’s time to get back to nothing but salads for awhile. Fortunately, I have tons of lettuce, spinach, kale, and pea shoots growing right now. It has been a mild couple of months — just perfect for cold-weather crops. I looked back over a few columns from February past and discovered I was just seeding this week things I am already eating this year. This is one part of global warming that is pretty nice. I’ll be singing another tune come summer.

I transplanted in earnest this past week — white Siberian kale, pink chard, Cloth of Gold Yarrow, and radicchio. I have to say radicchio is not one of my favorites — too bitter for my taste. I grow it to make the salad I remember from the Black Dog Tavern in the early nineties. I believe Tom Engley came up with this fabulous way to make radicchio palatable. It was dressed with a warm vinaigrette into which Bel Paese cheese was melted.

The Black Dog was like the Vineyard’s own Ellis Island. All the people getting off the ferry in the seventies and eighties either hung out there or worked there for a time.

Charlie Esposito, one of the cooks, made up a dish he called Frendita. It was a mixture of the trendy foods then becoming popular. It was fresh squid ink pasta with garlic, olive oil, basil, radicchio, sun-dried tomatoes, oyster mushrooms, and pine nuts. I believe it made its debut sometime during Christina Napolitan’s Italian night. Those were the days... Christina made a hot Bagna Cauda with garlic, olive oil, and anchovies. One dipped the tavern-baked bread on fennel slices into ramekins of the mixture.

Another food item which people either love or hate is cilantro. I am in the latter group. To me it tastes like some soap reseeded into one of my customer’s herb pots. I am stowing them in the greenhouse. The cilantro looks great in spite of freezing nightime temperatures. I wish I knew someone who would like it. I actually started some more figuring on an early cash crop.

I have mentioned the heather in full bloom in front of David Finkelstein’s office many times. It bears repeating. Talk about a reliable winter plant. I’m jealous as I have managed to kill quite a few.

Any day now the large witch hazel at Middletown Nursery will burst into flower. I noticed over the weekend it was about to pop. FYI, they are fragrant as well as very early color.

I have a few snowdrops and crocuses blooming. What fun! Even the hyacinths are up several inches. Jenny Seward spotted vinia blooming in Vineyard Haven.

I picked lettuce for our supper in the unheated greenhouse and to my disgust found several tiny live slugs. What’s up with that in the middle of February? This clearly falls under taking the bad with the good.

I have not the energy nor the heart to make even an attempt to take on Rick Santorum. OMG!

Last Sunday’s New York Times had a large article entitled, Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It. It talked about a small town in a Republican county in Minnesota. The general consensus is that the government is too large, spends too much, and needs to have the administration replaced. The irony is that almost half of all Americans live in households that receive government benefits, according to the 2010 census. We are talking Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, veteran’s assistance, earned income credit, free school lunches, etc. The people interviewed gladly took their various benefits.

The article went on with a U.S. map depicting the areas most heavily subsidized by the government in some form. Most of these areas are in the rural South, half of Alaska, and huge portions of Arizona. These areas strongly rejected Obama on 2008. The Amtrak corridor and New England with the exception of Maine are substantially less dependent.

You see where I’m going with this obviously. The greater the dependence on the government, the greater the support for Republican candidates. Conversely, states (like Massachusetts) that pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits tend to support the Democrats. Our taxes support people in Mississippi and Alabama and they hate us. They say Massachusetts liberal like a swear word.

That’s all I have to say about that. I’m one of the baffled ones.