Last weekend’s cloud formations were fabulous. On Saturday evening, Violet and I took a drive out to West Chop to observe the sunset. It deserved a standing ovation. On the way back, on Franklin street, we got a huge kick out of the two giant chickens. They were lit from below, making very unique yard art!

Then, on Sunday, we went to the cancer support group’s blueberry pancake fundraiser at the Edgartown Federated Church parish hall. They served pancakes with a delicious blueberry syrup. It reminded me of my friend, Sharlee, back in the mid-seventies. We spent hours picking wild blue and huckleberries. In one of our first canning experiences, we decided blueberry jam was in order. Never ones to actually follow directions, we did not add pectin to the recipe. Needless to say, we ended up with many jars of blueberry syrup. After that, we began reading the book. We did, however, enjoy that syrup!

I have begin canning again for yet another season. My son, Reuben, remarks when he sees me at it, “Donald Trump?”

There is a satisfying sense of control during the process. It’s great to use the bounty of another year of gardening to enjoy mid-winter.

I had high hopes for my tomatoes this year. Then, as is usually the case, nature got the better of me. First, there were tomato worms, then crows, followed by skunks. Another first this year was the discover of many dozens of half-eaten green ones under the large cabbage leaves two beds over. I tried to figure it out and finally saw the culprits: chipmunks.

The old barn cat simply cannot keep up and the new young male is totally worthless. He only wants to wrap around my legs and trip me!

Some years ago I attended group called Homegrown at the Ag Hall off season. Rebecca Gilbert mentioned an Italian heirloom sweet pepper, Jimmy Nardello. I grew it this year. It is very early to ripen and turn red. It looks like a cayenne — long and skinny. Thinking it was hot, I gave it away to folks as spicy — oops. It’s sweet and wonderful.

At the corner of Hinkley and Skiff in Vineyard Haven, there are a couple of burning bushes which have begun to turn color. It seems early. This shrub, though very pretty when it turns bright red in the fall, is on the invasive species list. They are no longer for sale in the local nurseries. Also known as winged euounymous, the little seed pods are carried by wind and birds. They reproduce at an alarming rate.

There is a field along the entrance to Grey Barn Farm. They keep up with the mowing. Nevertheless, it is awash with six-inch-tall sky blue chicory. I love that weed. There are so few true blue flowers. It will grow and flower in sidewalk cracks, for Pete’s sake!

Speaking of Grey Barn, I purchased some hot dogs and cooked them with my own freshly made sauerkraut. Yummy does not adequately do it justice. The dogs have that satisfying “snap”.

I’m halfway through Into the Raging Sea, the Rachel Slade account of the sinking of El Faro during Hurricane Joaquin. I usually do not like this sort of read, especially knowing that it does not end well. This story, however, is fascinating. It could be called a metaphor for the present situation in our country and world.

It tells about the shady underworld of the merchant marine, highlighting how international shipping and trade have been affected by incredible corporate greed, gross mismanagement and deregulation, and, worst of all for this ship, a captain with an elephantine ego who refuses to accept advice or criticism. His misunderstanding of the situation and belligerence in the face of irrefutable facts doomed the ship and her 33 crew members to the bottom of the sea.