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The Mt. Gretna Newsletter

Mt. Gretna, Pa.. . . "Not a place but a spirit"  Marlin Seiders (1927-2008)

No. 147                                                                                                                       Feb. 1, 2014

A different way of seeing

    Winter has a way of clarifying priorities in Mt. Gretna. Only the essentials remain. Laid bare is all that truly counts.
   It is a time of solace in a solitary capsule, buffeted by the cold and snows repeated one upon the other. The season devolves into the quietest of the year.
   Those temporarily enticed to faraway places soon discover satisfactions flow from an unexpected source. Affirmed is that which they already knew: The place where they were, the place they had chosen, the place where the soul resides is their center.
   Marlin Seiders expressed it perfectly: Mt. Gretna is more a spirit than a place.
   And also a feeling -- as vibrant today as a century ago when those who came before us were first drawn by something that pulled them here.
   Amid the trees and hills and an enveloping warmth that defies thermometers, it is a grand arena of nature -- complemented by endeavors in arts with talents and passions that strive toward excellence. A presence that cannot be stilled by time, nor distance nor winter's repeated storms.
  Even a winter that seems unusually harsh will quickly fade. Transient. Ephemeral. Then gone.
   What remains is permanent, a treasure chest that reopens each spring, rewarding each generation anew.

  These photographs of scenes at the lake Jan. 21, 2014 were taken by Elaine Hartman, a Mine Road resident who once embarked on a year-long photographic project to capture a familiar scene each and every day in a new and interesting way. The result seems to have created a different way of seeing. Her gifts continue.
   This issue, of necessity pared down to its essentials because of the constraints of time and travel, comes with an iron-clad guarantee to readers in sunnier parts of the world that Mt. Gretna, despite temperatures that twice this season have dipped to levels of 3 below zero, remains intact, largely unscathed and fully energized for its return to normal come summertime.

  Those of us who have passed into our seventies and beyond hope to do the same.
  With all best wishes for continued health and happiness,
  Roger Groce

Where's the flamingo? Crossing  the border into Italy with John Mitchell, who says each one-of-a-kind flamingo at La Cigale raises funds for Mt. Gretna firefighters and promotes America's best, yet least-known, small town. Adopt a flamingo (for a fire company donation of $100 or more) and take it on your next trip.

The Calendar for February

Sunday, Feb. 2:

Souper Bowl Sunday at Mt. Gretna United Methodist Church. Following the 10 am worship service, members serve their favorite soup for a luncheon starting around 11:30 am. All in the community are invited. (Please bring a donation or can of soup for the Food Bank.)

Music by the Fireside, Gov. Dick Nature Center, 1 to 4 pm. Location (A) on the linked trail map.

Tuesday, Feb. 4:
The Winterites present a virtual tour of the Philhaven Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities in a program arranged by Walter and Claudette Steele plus committee members Barb Fishman, Lois Herr, and Fred and Judy Horowitz, Peggy O'Neil, Mary Ellen McCarty, and Eleanor Sarabia. The program begins at 1 pm in the fire hall.
   All are welcome, men as well as women.
   Looking ahead: Victor Bojko recounts a trip to his birthplace in the Ukraine, March 4. For information, call Donna Kaplan 964-2174.

Friday, Feb. 7:
   First Friday of Art and Music at the Timbers Restaurant starting at 6 pm. Music by Andy Roberts (piano and melodica) and guitarist Jim Easton.
  Guest artist will be watermedia creator Elizabeth Stutzman, who lives nearby on Mine Road and operates a private studio in the Campmeeting.

Wednesday, Feb. 12:
South Londonderry Township Supervisors take their monthly meeting on the road to the Timbers Restaurant, starting at 7 pm. (Issues primarily affecting residents of Timber Hills, Timber Bridge and Conewago Hill but also often of interest to others in Mt. Gretna.)

Friday, Feb. 14:
   Valentine's Dinner at Le Sorelle Porch and Pantry Cafe, starting at 6:30 pm. **Reservations required. **BYOB. Dinner options (chosen at time of reservations) include: baked Atlantic salmon with creamy dill sauce; baked seaside jumbo lump crabcake; glazed baked ham with pineapple sauce; homemade fettuccine alfredo; chicken divan over steamed broccoli and rice topped with cream sauce. Desserts include New York-style cheesecake topped with cherries; chocolate mousse garnished with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream; ginger ice cream (ginger crust with an ice cream filling and hint of lemon). Call or email reservations by Tuesday, Feb. 11; tel. 717-964-3771.

   Valentine's Weekend dinners (Friday and Saturday, Feb. 14 and 15) at the Timbers include specials in addition to the regular menu, music from 6 to 9 pm by Harrisburg pianist Paul Bratcher and a display of the water media paintings of Mt. Gretna artist Elizabeth Stutzman.
   Reservations recommended for fireside dining, starting at 5:30. Tel. 964-3601.

Sunday, Feb. 16:
    A glimpse of early Mt. Gretna you've probably never seen before, with scenes from daily life at Stoverdale, a community that opted to escape the "worldly"

Years before the Campmeeting was founded, its forerunner thrived 20 miles away. 

influences of neighboring activities (card-playing and horse racing, among them) and move in 1892 from its once-quiet pastoral campgrounds 20 miles away near Hummelstown to establish the Campmeeting in Mt. Gretna.
   It's the Mt. Gretna Area Historical Society's winter program, this year with scenes from six recently acquired postcards that depict life in Stoverdale and affirm the strong influences of that community's United Brethren leaders on the Campmeeting's subsequent architectural, cultural and spiritual development.  
   Nearly always filled to capacity, this popular winter program will also present other newly acquired historical postcards from a recently auctioned 40,000-card personal collection which included over 400 early scenes of Mt. Gretna: the Chautauqua, the lake, park and Mt. Gretna Heights as well as scenes of military operations which dominated grounds from Timber Hills to Colebrook.
   Open to all, the program begins at 2 pm in the Mt. Gretna Fire Hall.

Wednesday, Feb. 26:
The Gathering Place, a monthly fellowship luncheon at Mt. Gretna United Methodist
Church where everyone is invited. Freewill offering. Beginning at noon.

Friday, Feb. 28:
   It's another community-wide gathering of neighbors in Timber Hills, Conewago Hill, Timber Bridge and, for that matter, anyone else in Mt. Gretna who wants to join the Relaxed? You bet.
   Come anytime that suits you from 5 pm onwards. (Don't worry if you're late. This is an event where the priority is not punctuality but simply on having a good time.) 
   All that's necessary is to make your reservations in advance (and tell Josie or Tap you're part of the Timber Hills group). It's an order-what-you-want, pay-your-own-bill affair with the emphasis on getting to know your friends and neighbors who by this time will be looking for a relaxed break not far from home.
   Last year, about 80 folks showed up. This year, they're hoping for even more so they're encouraging everyone to call a few of their friends.
   To reserve your space, call the Timbers at 964-3601.


Sunday, March 2:

  It's not a buffet--it's an extravaganza! Mt. Gretna present the most sumptuous breakfast you can imagine -- complete with friends and neighbors who've shared the saga of another Mt. Gretna winter -- at the fire hall, 8 am to noon.  

   The late Dale Grundon made it his favorite event, and together with friend John Hambright, awarded it a "5-fork rating." Come see for yourself. All proceeds go to the Mt. Gretna Fire Company.  

   Since it's a fundraiser, the firefighters appreciate donations of $20, $50 or $100 as you enter the hall and pass by the firefighter's boot.  





Don't forget: 

Mt. Gretna's new year-round calendar appears online, a service of the Mt. Gretna Arts Council. Email listings and updates to Jennifer Veser Besse at     

New and noteworthy

    DETOUR AHEAD: There's a reason most road-building takes place in the summer. Wintertime is not conducive to keeping construction projects on schedule.
     That, in a nutshell, explains the delay behind a $313,000 project to replace the 73-year-old bridge west of Mt. Gretna on Rte. 117 (shown in blue), originally scheduled to have begun Jan. 2.
    Officials now say work will start Monday, Feb. 17 and preliminary detour signs will go up Feb. 3 to meet PennDOT's two-week notice requirements. 
   All construction on the bridge must be finished by March 31 to avoid the start of bog turtle activity in surrounding wetlands. Resurfacing operations on the highway should wind up by April 25.
   Roadblocks will establish detour routes (shown in green) along Mine and Butler roads for local traffic headed to and from Colebrook. Trucks and through traffic will be routed around Routes 322 and 241 (shown in red).

   BEST SELLER: It may not top The New York Times best-seller list, but in Mt. Gretna every summer it's the best-read book around.

  Hands down, the Mt. Gretna Summer Calendar is the best way to keep up with what's going on in perhaps the liveliest, most energized small town in America.

  That makes the calendar ideal for advertising, say Arts Council volunteers who distribute thousands of copies without charge to restaurants, stores and other popular spots for visitors, residents and the just plain curious.

   This year's deadline for calendar listings is March 1. Business listings (Name, email address and phone number) are $50. Patron listings are $35. Mail listings with payments to Mt. Gretna Arts Council, P O Box 513, Mt. Gretna PA 17064.

   MAGIC TOUCH: Kendra Feather, daughter of Conewago Hill residents Joe and Laura Feather, added to her growing honors as a restauranteur in Richmond, Va. Her newest venture, The Roosevelt, last month was named Restaurant of the Year by Richmond magazine. Roosevelt's chef Lee Gregory was named Chef of the Year.   

Garnett's, another of the four food and dining establishments she has launched in the past 13 years, collected the People's Choice Award for Best Neighborhood Restaurant. The chef at her recently opened WPA Bakery won Best Pastry Chef honors.    WINTER WARMUPS: Eighty million people flee to Florida every winter and Mt. Gretna has its own contingent. We'll make up a list someday, but meanwhile, we get pictures from some of our favorites, many of whom seem to gravitate toward Sarasota.
   One group that wound up there last month included, from left, Mt. Gretna photographer Madelaine Gray, Pam Bishop and husband Doug Lorenzen and Mt. Gretna Bird Club founders Evelyn Koppel and Sid Hostetter, who found plenty of birds including one that looked strangely familiar. Ms. Koppel suspects it may have been Ichabod, the wayward Sandhill Crane that flew into Mt. Gretna a few winters ago on a faulty vector and stayed for months, becoming a minor celebrity in the process.

   JULY BONUS: For organ recital fans, maybe the best news is that July includes five Thursdays this year. That means five afternoon concerts at the Chautauqua home of Peter Hewitt and Walter McAnney, who have over the past 17 years made their residence a favored destination for up-and-coming organists at the nation's top music schools.
   Performers this year will include two from South Carolina, one from New Jersey, and a student now at Julliard. Another has a large church in Hanover, Pa. and has performed in Europe "and many auspicious venues," says Mr. Hewitt. 



SUSAN M. AFFLERBACH (1957 - 2014) 

   Susie Afflerbach moved with her husband to the Mt. Gretna area a few years ago and quickly made herself an integral part of the community. A gifted pianist who began playing at the age of five, she discovered at age 45 a talent for painting and photography which blossomed through a profound expre of her love for animals. 

   She said that she wanted to speak for four-legged creatures who could not speak for themselves. She did that through their eyes, which she captured with both brush and lens in artistic statements of eloquent compassion, expressing their yearning to both understand and to be understood. Through such remarkable gifts, she transmitted their feelings with a clarity and honesty that compelled rapt attention, honor and respect. 

   Her artwork and photographs were the distinctive signature of Elmer's Rainbow, a business she founded soon after she came here.    

   She also took a major role in establishing an art gallery at La Cigale, where the works of 11 artists are now on display. And she was instrumental in the launch of Mt. Gretna's First Fridays, a summertime and fall cavalcade of exhibitions at six small galleries in a town of 1,500 -- a remarkable monthly series that, along with wine, cheese and conversations about art, brought greater exposure among residents and visitors alike to the talents, tastes and sensibilities of Mt. Gretna-area artists and musicians. 

   Born in New Jersey, she and Gregg Afflerbach were married in 1991. Together, they built a life of adventure, travel and companionship that fulfilled them through the next 22 years, until the recent discovery of an illness that would quickly prove fatal. 

   There are no prescribed measures for how best to die. Yet surely if there were, at the top of any list would be to die in the arms of a loved one. 

   Susie Afflerbach died in Gregg's arms early on the morning of January 6. In a note dispatched just hours later to friends who had supported them throughout their ordeal, he wrote, "She lived her last days as she had lived her life, with dignity, class and a deep concern for others." 

   Later, in an official obituary that appears online, he added, "Susie touched many hearts and souls with her musical and artistic talents, generous and compassionate spirit and kind soul. Her first and foremost love was for all creatures great and small." 

   A celebration of her life will be held today (Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014) at the Timbers Restaurant at noon. A fundraiser in her honor, benefiting the Lebanon Humane Society, is planned in May.

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Mt. Gretna Newsletter | P O Box 607 | Mt Gretna | PA | 17064