The Top of the Mountain

Here’s one good thing about the Arctic temperatures we’ve been enduring. The temporary ice skating rink at Fairfield Hills has been set up for the season, and I have noticed people are taking time to visit it again. The rink will have a formal event next weekend, when Newtown Parks & Recreation hosts a family ice skating party on Friday, February 7. DJ Kevin Koschel will provide music for the event, which will run from 6:30 until 9:30 pm. Hot chocolate and hot coffee will be served, and a small bonfire will help keep some guests warm. The party is a free event, but registration is requested and should be done online through the department’s website (parks.newtown-ct.gov). If you need additional information call Parks & Rec at 203-270-4340.

Arctic cold positive thing #2: I keep reading that cold weather makes you burn more calories, so that seemed like a silver lining behind these single-digit temperatures we’ve been having. A little more sleuthing, though, and I’ve discovered it isn’t the cold, but rather the shivering that burns those calories, at a rate of 400 calories per hour. That would be some serious shivering for a serious amount of time, though, so I sincerely hope that no one is planning to turn this frigid weather into a substitute for going to the gym.

The EverWonder Experience has received the donation of a large-scale sculpture, a chartreuse Dalmatian dog called “R. Hero.” The sculpture is part of a series being done by artists Karen and Tony Barone, who create and then arrange for the installation of their works at public sites to honor and recognize “our valiant firefighters and fire responders who save, rescue and protect humans and animals alike,” say the couple. EverWonder is hoping to see art and animal lovers alike this weekend when they host a dedication of “R. Hero.” A formal ceremony will be held at the museum, at 31 Pecks Lane, on Saturday, February 1, at 2 pm. Cookies and juice will follow.

Hopefully none of my fellow feline or canine buddies have had to make a visit here, but there’s a new look taking shape at the Mt Pleasant Hospital for Animals. There’s already a new entrance into the waiting room, and a whole new section framed up off of that area. The additional space will allow for an expanded surgery center and separate entrance/exits for those who must bid farewell to furry friends, I hear, and right after he jabbed me with updated vaccinations, Dr Vali told me that he is hoping to see the work finished by spring.

One thing just leads to another… I was curious (as a cat) about the origins of Punxsutawney Phil, the Pennsylvanian groundhog of Groundhog Day fame. So I went to the groundhog.org site, and learned all kinds of lore about Punxy, as I like to call him. By drinking the “elixir of life,” for example, each Groundhog Day, the groundhog stores up an additional seven years of life, thus enabling him to have reached the ripe old age of 125 years-plus. Here’s another tidbit: he was named after King Phillip (the “Phil” part, that is), taking that name over his previous nom de plume, “Br’er Groundhog.” Then I came across the little rhyme that explains why when Punxy sees his shadow we get six more weeks of winter, and if he does not, we get a reprieve. Apparently, there is an ancient little rhyme that goes, “For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May…” Not being sure what this Candlemas Day is, I went to my friendly, neighborhood website and found out that it is a Christian celebration that takes place on — surprise! — February 2. It marks three occasions according to Christian belief, says my source: the presentation of the child Jesus; Jesus’ first entry into the temple; and it celebrates the Virgin Mary’s purification. Candles are blessed on this day, and in parts of Europe, “It is traditional to eat crepes on Candlemas in some parts of Europe, such as France. Each family member prepares and cooks a crepe while holding a coin in hand. This is believed to assure wealth and happiness until the next Candlemas celebration.” I don’t know if you have ever made crepes, but I was immeasurably impressed to think that there are people in this world coordinated enough to pour batter and flip a crepe with one hand. I’m sure I would be all paws. Now I suppose I’ll have to investigate crepe cookery…

Newtown’s loss is Maine’s gain. Our own Newtown artist Martha LaMarche and hubby Bob moved to Portland, Maine, last summer, where at last the locals will get a gander at her talents. Marty tells me that six of her works have been accepted at Constellation Gallery, 511 Congress Street, Portland, as part of the “Pattern, Pixels, and Pastels” February show. Looks like someone is breaking into the arts scene there. Congratulations, Marty!

I hope you’ve made your restaurant dinner reservations already for Valentine’s Day — February 14 is just two weeks off, and with the day of love falling on a Friday, cozy tables for two are sure to be at a premium. Wondering what to give the love of your life? The most awesome gifts are just around the corner in Newtown, from gift certificates to massage or spa services, membership for two at a gym or with a personal trainer, Connecticut-made chocolates, handcrafted jewelry, pretty scarves, scented oils and bath products, luxurious hand lotions, sports attire, soy-based candles, witty cards, and flowers, of course. The list goes on and is only limited by your imagination — all while shopping locally. So there’s no excuse now for not having the time or place to shop!

Speaking of love, here’s a big Adorable Alert! UConn has a new mascot — Jonathan XIV, a roly-poly husky. Check out this blue-eyed cutie at wtnh.com/2014/01/29/new-husky-mascot-debuts-at-uconn.

I’m going to keep my fur coat pulled snug about me until whichever week Punxsutawney Phil gives me the A-OK. Frosty paws or not, I’ll be typing away, so be sure next week to… Read me again.

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