Even the more than half of our readers who dwell in sunnier climes will by now, we suppose, be weary of hearing about the Blizzard that Nearly Devoured Mount Gretna (and, along with it, the whole Eastern Seaboard).
Bill Care's crews worked to near exhaustion almost 'round the clock, pushing more snow in a single night than in entire seasons during winters past. Linda Bell, the genteel borough secretary who’s normally seated behind a desk, swung into action behind the wheel of a snowplow yesterday, fulfilling yet another of her lifetime goals. Dale Grundon captured the wintry scenes --- including a 7 ft. icicle dangling from the roof of the newly remodeled Le Sorelle Porch 'n Pantry Cafe --- so readers in Florida (like Terry Miller and former Mayor Hoagy Hogentogler) and elsewhere across America can view it at http://dalesdelights.com/. Most of those who shoveled for three straight days, however, are indeed snowweary. So we figure that it's time to switch to sunnier topics, and this issue of our newsletter sprints to brighter days ahead.
Take, for example, the forthcoming monthly gatherings of artists, writers, musicians, poets, and other creative Mount Gretnans. Starting next Tuesday, Feb. 25th, they’ll be getting together in the art gallery at Le Sorelle. Calling it a “meeting” is not quite apt. It’s much simpler, less formal, and far friendlier than that. It is simply an occasion for those with a “commonality of creating” to get together once a month and share, with a cup of coffee and perhaps a dessert, ideas and inspirations. Andy Boucher (firstname.lastname@example.org) sparked the idea. You don’t have to be an artist, writer, or poet to join in. Anyone who simply appreciates the arts is welcome. The time is 7:30 p.m. The setting informal. The agenda nearly nonexistent. And the focus on friendship, discussions and perhaps the kindling of ideas that may stimulate, inspire and delight others who share a love of the arts and of living in Mount Gretna.
Speaking of Le Sorelle Porch 'n' Pantry, the remodeled cafe --- with its sparkling new kitchen, parkside entrance, and innovative displays of local artworks --- passed its state inspections with flying colors. So Stephanie and Tiffany Lamont now are ready for the official opening weekend starting this Saturday, Feb. 22d. Hours will be 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. each Wednesday through Sunday. Tel. 964-3771 or e-mail: email@example.com. Their website: http://porchandpantry.com/
And adding welcome sunbeams, even in the dead of winter, are those happy faces at Mount Gretna’s United Methodist Church Nursery School, which holds its open house the week of March 3d. Carol Mather (964-2208, 964-3578) has details on those September-May classes for three- and four-year olds.
Yet another glimmer of sunshine: plans are underway, for the Summer Premiere and benefit art auction, now set for May 24th. Coordinating the event will be Janice Balmer, with support from sister Leslie Hall and other members of Mount Gretna’s Arts Council. Janice succeeds the Unsinkable Trish Myers, who headed the season-opening gala and other volunteer activities here for many years. Trish and husband Bruce are moving in April to a new home just outside Hershey. As they prepare to leave, the good wishes of a grateful community go with them. Few have done more, with greater enthusiasm, yet expecting nothing more than the opportunity to serve.
Serving others has also been the passion of another noted Mount Gretna volunteer. Evelyn Duncan phoned us the other day from somewhere in New Mexico. Honored as “volunteer of the year” by Gretna Theater last year, Evelyn sold her home here and left on a transcontinental motor home adventure last month. She reports viewing the gypsum plains of White Sands, N.M., "where the sand looks exactly like new fallen snow," tracing her fingers along stone drawings left by Indians 400 years ago, and watching the silent Stealth bombers prepare for their missions to the Middle East. She’ll spend the next few years traveling and seeing America from the open road.
Our other traveling correspondent, Pat Pinsler, who began making motor home travel a way of life more than ten winters ago, reports that robins, not turkey vultures, are plaguing Florida. The birds are attacking commercial strawberry farms. Pat says the techniques strawberry farmers use to scatter the birds are similar to those used here. But not with the same success. Florida’s strawberries still are vulnerable to the relentless robins. But in Pennsylvania, for buzzards with an inclination to roost, Mount Gretna no longer ranks among the Top Ten Winter Vacation spots. Keep your fingers crossed. For the past two months, not a single vulture has ventured into town.
Finally, Art Show co-founder Reed Dixon sent us a picture of the 27-inch snowbank building up this week outside his window. Apart from the mystical beauty that naturally attends to that which Reed creates, the photo reminds us that this winter's bountiful snows are helping restore groundwater levels to something approaching normal. True, they're not back to the robust measures of five or six years ago. But the drought has officially ended. And come spring, Mount Gretnans will plant flowers outside their cottages, replace trees along their streets, and restore vigor and vitality to a community where hundreds have lived, and that thousands have loved, for more than a century.
Roger Groce, 213 Stevens Avenue
A Special Note to Our Website Readers: Before preparing each newsletter, we dispatch a special alert to our e-mail address list inviting everyone to send ideas for topics of interest and upcoming events. We attempt to make that alert as informative as the newsletter itself. Here is the “Call for Articles” that preceded this issue:
Sent: Tuesday, February 04, 2003 2:03 AM
Subject: Coming Up, Another E-Mail Newsletter for Mount Gretna
Coming up soon: Another newsletter to bring you up-to-date on wintertime happenings in Mount Gretna. Send your news, notes and notices to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, to keep you abreast of events:
 Stephanie and Tiffany Lamont hope to open Le Sorelle Porch and Pantry Cafe during the third week of February (sometime between Wednesday, the 19th and Saturday the 22d). The exact date depends on when carpenters, plumbers and electricians --- now working feverishly --- finish their work and inspectors give their final OKs. Hours will be 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Check their new website, http://porchandpantry.com/ for announcement of the official opening.
 Those infamous Mount Gretna buzzards haven’t been seen for weeks. Too early to declare victory? Maybe. But not too early to extend congratulations to volunteers who helped in the well-coordinated relocation effort, this year and last.
 Wade Balmer finished the “Joints In Motion” half marathon race walk in 3:04:05 last month at Orlando, Fla. The son of Mount Gretna builder John and Susanne Balmer, Wade has suffered from juvenile arthritis for the past 19 years. Since September, he’s been training for the 13.1 mile event with sister-in-law Janice Balmer and Linda Allwein, Mount Gretnans who joined Wade on his triumphal trek through Disney World: http://www.asiorders.com/view_user_event.asp?S=20&EVENTID=2192&BIB=21428
 Fire company friends from Temple, Old Mountain and Lebanon avenues will serve take-out soups and desserts this Sunday, Feb. 9, starting at Noon. Proceeds benefit the fire company. Want to join the fun, either preparing or selling? Call Kathy Snavely at 964-2191. (E-mail: email@example.com).
 Dalesdelights.com displays a panorama of ice hockey on Lake Conewago, snow on the rooftops of Mount Gretna, and other views that attest to this as one of the coldest, snowiest and most picturesque winters in memory: See http://dalesdelights.com/.
 Gretna Theater’s Renee Krizan (964-3322) seeks information booth volunteers next month at Boscov’s East and West Shore stores, Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. “This is a wonderful opportunity to help get information out to the public,” says Renee.
 Emily and Jack Shelly, who added spark and sparkle to Mount Gretna summers for many years, send reluctant word that they must give up their Muhlenberg Ave. cottage here and settle permanently in Virginia. Friends hope they’ll return often for visits.
 Youngsters at Mount Gretna’s United Methodist Church will serve a Valentine Candlelight Dinner, complete with chicken cordon bleu, basmati nut rice and herbs, and homemade desserts Saturday, Feb. 15th. Reservations: 964-1851 by Feb. 8th, please.
 Suzanne Stewart encourages organic produce deliveries for Mount Gretnans this summer. She needs just a few more residents to sign up for 25 weeks of freshly picked strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, corn and other delights. Details: 625-3954, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or see the website: www.scarecrowhill.com. (Familiar name? Before she became a mom, Suzanne was with Music at Gretna.)
More news and updates shortly. Meanwhile, please continue your courteous practice of letting others know that our community e-mail newsletter is free for the asking, exists for no other purpose than to help spread good news and glad tidings, and goes around the world to folks who share our special affection for what Marlin Seiders calls "not a place, but a spirit."
Roger Groce, 213 Stevens Ave., Mount Gretna