Spring comes into Mt. Gretna
not with a grand, sweeping entrance, but on
tiptoes. Small steps, like Linda Wilson's sighting in mid-March of the
season's first robin near her home on Princeton Avenue. Or photographer
Dale Grundon's encounter (right) with the first snowdrops. Or David
Lillenstein's report, enroute from his home in Timber Bridge, of bald
eagles gathering along the lake.
Indeed, the news at this time of year tends to arrive in tiny kaleidoscopic
clumps near the end of the month, providing for readers of this community
newsletter the pleasurable pursuit of striving to find patterns that give
clues to Mt. Gretna's indefinable essence. Yet although this month's
mosaic, blending disparate notes and musings may hint at what makes this
town like no other, the answer remains as elusive as ever.
Spring's official ambassador--that
robin Linda spotted--arrived just as Bill Care's team were putting away
(they hope) their snow plows for the season. It was, as winters go, a mild
one, yet with 18 separate "snow events." That includes, we
suppose, anything that descends in the form of frozen crystals of one sort
or another and requires a coating of road salt. Salt, it turns out, was
costly this year, jumping 56% in price and furrowing the brows of those who
must cope with municipal budgets.
More startling, however, at
least for those making their first re-entry into Mt. Gretna since last
fall, was the sight they beheld from atop Pinch Road. The dramatically
altered view, now with 14,000 fewer trees following harvesting operations
in the wake of repeated attacks by gypsy moths and drought, will take years
to restore. But, with a spirit that embodies Lao Tzu's reminder that
"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step,"
volunteers will assemble this month to begin replanting the forest. (See
"Numbers," below.) And to protect trees that remain, aerial
spraying will resume later this month or in early May. (Click here to find the PDF spray block maps,
Another surprise came with the news last month that about four miles from Mt.
Gretna, developers from Montgomery County are planning to build a
year-round water park, complete with a 250-room hotel, 645 homes and rental
cottages, and a main street of shops and stores in what they'll call "The Preserve at Historic Cornwall Village."
Newspaper accounts say the development, at the former open pit iron ore
mine around Burd Coleman Village, Miners Village and the Iron Valley golf
course, could begin in about three years. Cornwall Borough officials expect
to hold public hearings in May. (For an aerial view of the area surrounding
this proposed development, click here.)
Closer to home, Mt. Gretnans
are getting ready for May 23 and the official launch of another summer
It'll begin with the sixth annual Mt. Gretna Triathlon, an event that
raises funds for research into a neuromuscular disease that crippled the
race's organizer, Chris Kaag, a young ex-marine whose life has since become
a testament to courage and determination. That event attracts about 600
competitors from across the nation who swim, cycle and run the course
starting shortly after 8 a.m. with the final contestants crossing the
finish line sometime before noon. (If you'd like to volunteer for set-up
events the day before or during the race, click here.)
Also in store that day will be another community porch sale, organized in
the Campmeeting by Bruce Gettle and in the Chautauqua by Barney Myer. That
event usually attracts several hundred bargain hunters into town for the
day and includes a book sale at the library.
Capping it all, around 4 p.m.
will be the grand Summer Premiere -- truly the social event of the year --
where people gather to greet friends not seen since last fall. As usual,
the planners have an imaginative gala in store. It will include
opportunities to bid on everything from a private wine-and-chocolate
tasting party hosted by chocolate expert Dr. Jeff Hurst (who also happens
to be a Mt. Gretna resident) to a photography session for children by one
of the area's most gifted photographers (who happens to be the
daughter of Carol Morgan, another Mt. Gretnan.)
The Premier, an Arts Council gala that not only marks the official start of
the season, also helps fund the Summer Calendar of Events -- an essential
reference without which life for most Mt. Gretnans would surely come to an
Also comes word that we'll have
another University for a Day session here June 27. The hope is that holding
it on a Saturday will allow more people who work during the week to attend.
Peggy O'Neil expects the 60 available tickets will soon be sold after the
reservations phone line (964-1830) opens next month. Peggy also says that
popular theologian Bishop John Shelby Spong will return this year for a
series of three lectures, plus a dinner, during the period May 31-June 4.
And yes, there will be chess lessons this year, given at the Hall of
Philosophy on Tuesday afternoons by Scottish chess master John Dempsey. Click here to
inquire about private and individual chess lessons, or call Gail Babic at
Finally amid the
assorted notes landing in our midst this month are bright messages like the
one from Cheryl Burke, who reports that a new Website posts little-known
details behind that road sign that went up along Route 117 several
Another inspired note comes from a man who makes his passion a pleasure for
others as well: Dick Brown, who lives at 980 Mine Road, is a plant expert
with a gift for sharing. He's inviting everyone to a 'native plant dig' at
his home April 25. Come with your own tools at 9 a.m. or 1 p.m. and he'll
show you where to dig plants to take back home. And if you have plants of
your own that you'd like to share with others, he'll have an exchange table
set up. (Details: 964-3006, or click here to drop
him an e-mail note.)
So do random notes such as
these reveal the essence of Mt. Gretna? No, not by a long shot. But they
give hints. It is as the composer Aaron Copeland once replied in response
to a questioner who asked if there was meaning to music. "My answer
would be, 'Yes.' And 'Can you state in so many words what that meaning is?'
My answer tothat would be, 'No.'"
In Other News:
PASTA WITH A FLAIR -- AND A PURPOSE
Nobody knows what folks around
here like to eat better than those Mt. Gretna Fire Company volunteers.
That's why they're cooking up another pasta feast April 18. It's a
pay-what-you-want, eat-all-you-want extravaganza.
It'll include Chef-on-the-Go Becky Briody's incomparable secret sauce and
meatballs. Plus salads, Italian breads, drinks and desserts.
Nothing beats it, say those who've come before. It's a 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
delight that'll attract friends and neighbors, making it more than simply
another incomparable Saturday night dinner and the most popular place in
Indeed, by stuffing a little extra in the "collection boot" this
month, your donation in times
like these will go a long, long way to provide much-needed support to the
folks who protect our property and save our lives.
you ever worked at Mt. Gretna's lake, Mt. Gretna's Historical Society
has a program this summer you'll want to know about. Chautauqua's Friday
evening series will host a reunion of former lake and beach employees
who'll share their memories. Society president Fred Buch is now collecting
names, addresses and telephone numbers of former employees. Click here to send
him an e-mail or call toll free, 800-242-3901.
food deliveries to Mt. Gretna will be a reality this summer. Weekly
shipments will start in May, says Susan Wood, who helped organize a small
group of local customers, enough to justify farm fresh deliveries from a cooperative made up of about 40 (mostly
Amish) farmers in Lancaster County. "If you're interested
in signing up, now's the time" says Susan. To save on costs during the
25-week season, some Mt. Gretna families are splitting their vegetable or
fruit shares with neighbors, she says. For details, click here to drop a note to
Susan, or call her at 964-3069.
Emporium owner Stacey Pennington, marveling over "how well
received" her imaginative offerings were last summer, is bringing a
fresh lineup of new products this year - many with "green,"
eco-friendly themes. She'll display them in a sneak preview for Mt. Gretnans
May 22, a Friday night before the season officially opens on Saturday.
"We listened to everybody's suggestions, and we're returning with new
things to keep it all fresh," she says.
won't have to go far to take part in Earth Day April 18. Governor Dick
Park's Nature Center has a full agenda in store for youngsters and adults
in a program, "Children and the Earth,"that
starts at 10 a.m.
trail hikers passing through Mt. Gretna on their way to nearby Quentin
are buzzing about that new coffee shop near Alden Place, now a favorite of Mt.
Gretnans like Janice Balmer. Located just off the trail, The Buzz features
coffee and tea from Mim Enck's and Walter Progner's East Indies Company.
Upstairs (in the former Coleman carriage house) is a salon and spa operated
by the brother of Chautauqua resident Gordy Keeny.
reader who recalls summers here with her grandparents (Cleo and Elmer
Delp) 40 years ago wonders if anyone remembers them or their cottage,
called "Buzzards' Roost." Didi
Yunginger doesn't know the cottage's exact location, only that it sat on a
hill across the street from the general store. "I remember that
because I sometimes got in trouble flying down the hill in a wagon,"
Gretnans Madelaine Gray and Susan Wood will lead their
"Footprints" team on a hike next month to raise funds for Rails
to Trails and Lebanon's Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center. Like
to join them on their five-mile hike along the rail trail May 30? Contact Madelaine
(964-3118) or Susan
(964-3069) for details. The scenic Saturday morning jaunt offers T-shirts,
prizes, refreshments and an 'after walk celebration" at photographer Madelaine's Campmeeting cottage and studio.
Sunday services begin at 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. April 12 at Mt. Gretna's
United Methodist Church.
for something to keep youngsters busy this summer? Governor Dick
Park offers four one-day camps June 11 and 26, July 17 and Aug. 6. Another
camp, for Summer Explorers, runs July 27-31 and will delve into insects,
amphibians and crafts. Click here for details in the park's current
 Did you ever hear of the
Depression-era "transient camp" at Mt. Gretna? A Lancaster
newspaper cited it in 1934, noting that after the camp had opened, fewer
tramps, panhandlers and hobos were seen roaming through Lancaster
itself. Seventy-five years later, that naturally stirs the interest
of Mt. Gretna's Historical Society. If you can help shed light on the
topic, click here to drop
an e-mail to the Society, or call president Fred Buch toll free,
Ron Laughlin leads a plant walk through the wooded trails of Governor
Dick Park April 12, checking to see what's blooming early this season. Tom
Powers and Richard Light share their insights into frogs and salamanders
April 27 in an outdoor adventure that begins at 7 p.m. Click here for details.