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The north winds do blow! Frigid weather has everyone scurrying about, bundled up, and while the brunt of the Polar Vortex-inspired weather will pass by us after Thursday, enough of a chill will remain that the governor is keeping the Cold Weather Protocol in place through Sunday. You’ll find me curled up on a cushion, tail snuggled close about my nose until this weather passes by — next week, if the weather predictions are accurate.

Byrd’s Books, 178 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel, will host Kate Pratt from the Audubon Center at Bent of the River on Tuesday, February 5, from 7 to 8:30 pm, to learn about and prepare for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) that takes place February 15 to 18. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served, and related books will be in stock for the event. To save a spot, visit conta.cc/2u0rp5o

A GBBC hike is scheduled with Kate at Audubon Center at Bent of the River in Southbury, as well, on Saturday, February 16, from 10 am to noon. Meet in the front parking lot of the 185 East Flat Hill Road sanctuary about ten minutes prior to the start of the hike. Dress for the weather, of course, and there is a $5 donation requested. So it will be “Hup, two, three, four... one, two, three, four,” as you march and count. Contact Kate at kpratt@audubon.org or call 203-405-9113.

I thought a super bowl was a ceramic bowl filled with delicious treats. It turns out everyone is talking about The Super Bowl, a matchup this year on February 3 between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots football teams. I hope you’ve noticed the poll on our home page at newtownbee.com. Cast your vote: will the Rams vanquish the Patriots, or will it be the other way around? (The good news for me is that most Super Bowl parties do include delicious treats.)

If you’re looking for some fancy action this weekend, consider going to the NHS Winter Guard Extravaganza at the high school from 5 to 9 pm this Saturday evening. NHS Winter Percussion will host the competition among 19 color guard units from regional schools. There is a $15 admission for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $8 for kids ages 10 and younger. You’ll be supporting the music, arts, and athletic programs at NHS — and seeing some incredible performances, as well.

While walking through Reed Intermediate School last week, I noticed a display filled with PEZ dispensers. I just had to know more about it, and it turns out all the dispensers are owned by teacher Sara Strait. She has more, too, and the ones displayed in an upstairs hallway are just part of the collection. Sara told me in an e-mail this week, the “collection began 20 years ago. A friend of mine gave me the Wonder Woman PEZ before my first day of teaching. He said, ‘You are going to be a hero for these kids. Just like Wonder Woman.’ So I put the PEZ on my desk... and my students started giving me PEZ. I’ve never purchased any PEZ — they are all gifts from students, teachers, and administrators. My most memorable PEZ was given to me by a student when I was a sixth grade [language arts] and social studies teacher. It has the earth as the ‘head’ of the PEZ . He chose that one specifically because he loved learning about the world in my Social Studies class. I haven’t counted recently, but I’m guessing there are about 500 [or more]. The ‘fuzzy’ and oversized PEZ are located in my classroom, and the majority of the collection is in the display case in the blue house hall.” So, if you didn’t satisfy your PEZ fix with the recent display at C.H. Booth Library, maybe you can peek at Sara’s collection if you’re ever visiting RIS.

Connecticut Magazine readers gave plenty of love this year to Newtown for the Best Of restaurants. Included in the winners from the Readers’ Picks, Sal e Pepe landed lots of accolades: statewide for Overall Excellence, Best Italian, and Best Value; as well as statewide runner-up for Best Appetizers, Best Wine Selection, and Best Bistro; and Best of Fairfield County for Most Romantic, Best Meatballs, Best Desserts, and Best Fine Dining. Lucas Local was picked by readers as the Best New Restaurant, statewide, as well as Best Up & Coming Chef and Best Seafood statewide and Best Raw Bar; runner-up statewide for Best Clam Chowder. Red Rooster Pub was named as Readers’ Picks for Best Late Night in Fairfield County and as statewide runner-up for Best Chili. Diners loved Newtown’s Toro for Best Chinese, Best Sushi, and Best Japanese, statewide; Kolam for Best Indian in Fairfield County; Thai Kitchen for Best Thai, statewide runner-up; Panificio Navona for Best Bakery, statewide; Butcher’s Best for Best Butcher, statewide; Eggs & Co for Best Breakfast, statewide; and the Best Coffee statewide? Cafe Xpresso.

The magazine’s Experts’ Picks included Lucas Local for Best New Restaurant and Best Seafood; King’s Restaurant for Best Breakfast/Brunch; and Kolam for Best Indian. Congratulations, Newtown eateries!

Three little kittens, they lost their mittens... but the Mitten Tree at Newtown Police Department was so successful this past holiday season that there was actually some overflow. As a result, a small table has been set up in the main corridor of Newtown Municipal Center, where residents are now invited to pick up a warm hat, scarf, and/or mittens or gloves if they need them. About a dozen offerings were still available as of early this week. The cold weather items are first-come, first-served, no questions asked.

Stuck for that perfect Valentine’s Day gift? Once again, the Bronx Zoo in New York is offering Name-a-Roach. Here’s a way to make sure your true love “knows your feelings will last a lifetime,” zoo officials tell me. “The Bronx Zoo is offering the opportunity to symbolically name its 50,000-plus giant Madagascar hissing cockroaches for Valentine’s Day 2019. The tongue-in-cheek gift comes with a colorful certificate e-mailed to your loved one announcing that a cockroach has been named in his or her honor. For a $15 donation, your loved one (or unloved one) will receive the printed certificate to cherish for years to come, featuring the name chosen for your Valentine’s Day roach. To make an extra impression, send ‘the works’ for a $75 donation, which includes a printed certificate as well as other roach gifts, including a warm beanie cap, a mug, and crazy roach pin.” To order, visit bronxzoo.com/roach.

I’m all for hissing when the time is right, but I’m hoping that my valentine will be something of a less creepy nature.

You won’t find any creepiness in this column. Be sure next week to... Read me again.

There are plenty of PEZ to view at this RIS teacher's collection, on display in the school.
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