Everything in weather world is relative. A day in the upper 30s in the fall has everyone shivering but after some real cold, a day above 32 degrees is downright balmy. Folks were in a great mood on Tuesday when I met them in the Covid gathering. That is to say, the parking lots at Cronig’s and the post office.

A few weeks ago I remarked that the cold had splayed all the hellebores. The leaves are sprawled all over. However, in the very center of several of them are the beginnings of flowers. They have yet to open but I can tell what color they will be. Amazing. Hope springs eternal.

I spent some time with my daughter in the hoophouse. We were preparing it to receive some spinach, lettuce and kale seedlings that await on a 60-degree propagating mat. They took almost two weeks to germinate. The mats are set up in an unheated greenhouse and we’ve had some mighty cold nights.

I yanked all of last year’s kale. I had hoped to revive it but aphids had their way with it and I ran out of tolerance.

I threw the plants in a big pile outside as I’ve done in years past. Oddly, the plants are so hardy, sometimes new shoots will develop along the spent stalk.

Two areas of the hoophouse look great. They support two varieties of strawberries: June bearers and perennial Alpines. I’ve had good luck with them. They ripen early and the pesky catbirds cannot eat every one. The outdoor patch requires netting for protection.

Speaking of pests...I’m overrun with voles. I moved a piece of plywood and found dozens of their little holes and runs. Last year they left me, perhaps, three beets. I need at least 10 barn cats.

Marie made a fun discovery. While tidying up, she found a couple of old hanging baskets. As she was about to compost the soil and spent plants, she found green shoots belonging to fall-planted mums and/or asters. She promptly planted them. They should be a nice addition to the perennial bed.

I’ve written this column for so long that I’m pretty sure I plagiarize my own self, so bear with me. Every year I plant fava beans. Like peas, they can be planted early. Late frosts do not bother them. They produce like crazy: giant pods filled with equally large beans. What we do not eat fresh, I boil in the pod, slip the bean out and freeze. However, they have a not-very-appetizing skin that needs to be painstakingly removed from the thawed bean.

Recently, I spent time preparing them and cooked them in a very rich pork stock. My three-year old great-grandson, Zappa, loves them. He told me beans are his favorite. Its worth the effort for a compliment from a little boy!

When I was growing up, I attended Earl J. Hyatt Elementary School in Rew, Pa. It was across the one street in town. I came home for lunch. Often, to protect ourselves from a Soviet-launched nuclear weapon, we hid under our desks — the classic duck-and-cover of the 1950s era.

Fast forward to the early ‘90s when the Soviet Union broke up, leaving eastern European countries to do as they wished — often turning to democracy.

Former KGB agent Vladimir Putin has not forgotten. He is an egotistical, vindictive man much like our former president except he is way smarter and more savvy. He has played the long game.

Following his meddling in the 2016 elections and endless cyber misinformation, the U.S. is now weakened to his liking. He wants us out of Europe and is toying with us over Ukraine.

Trump managed to sow distrust with our European allies. Now, Fox News’s Tucker Carlson — Putin’s new BFF — is doing his best to convince his huge audience that Russia is the victim.

Wait, there’s more. Russia and the U.S. are the least vaccinated people in the world, per capita.

By the way, Putin won’t face mid-terms and in 2024, his opponents in the presidential race are in jail. You know: lock ‘em up!