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The Top Of The Mountain

Published: February 02, 2018 at 12:00 am

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An antique bench in the editorial office has a new look, thanks to Julie vanderKroef.
An antique bench in the editorial office has a new look, thanks to Julie vanderKroef.
Freddy the fisherman caught this nice fish recently.
Freddy the fisherman caught this nice fish recently.
Rex, a Bernese Mountain pup, is the newest member of the canine staff at the A&A and Newtown Bee offices.
Rex, a Bernese Mountain pup, is the newest member of the canine staff at the A&A and Newtown Bee offices.
Now here's a wedding venue that has some teeth in it - really. "Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is host to nearly two dozen weddings or wedding-related events per year, and that number is growing as more people hear about the Zoo's availability as a unique venue," said the Zoo's Rentals and Events Manager Lindsay Durkee, in a recent press release. "Couples love the carousel, beautiful outdoor wedding sites, and the possibility to interact with their favorite animals." Not only that, Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport has been recognized as a winner of the 2018 WeddingWire Couples' Choice Awards as a Connecticut wedding venue.

Meanwhile, you may have caught that photo of the Beardsley Zoo's public introduction of the Amur tiger cubs in my column recently. Now, the zoo tells us, a webcam in the Amur tiger cubs' nursery began streaming images in real time this past Tuesday. After a bumpy start, when the huge number of viewers leaping at the chance caused some technical difficulties, it is safe to say that viewers can now observe the cubs from 9 am to 8 pm, seven days a week. To view the cubs, visit beardsleyzoo.org/tiger-cam.

RIP, eastern mountain lion. The US Fish and Wildlife agency declared this subspecies officially extinct, last week. But that doesn't mean you won't be seeing (or thinking you see) my big cousins. Apparently, there is some argument that the eastern mountain lion should never have been a subspecies; that it has always been genetically linked to the western mountain lion. Those westerners have been edging into the northeast, it seems, now and then, and may continue to do so. At any rate, what was classified as our eastern mountain lion seems to have lost a grip on population around here, and is now considered vanquished. Naturally shy and phantomlike in their sightings, glimpses of mountain lions - eastern, western, North American, what have you - have been reported over the years right here in Newtown. Now you see them, now you don't... or do you?

Gosh darn it. Felines seem to be losing ground rapidly at The Bee office. Ben Smith introduced Rex to the staff on Monday - an eight-week-old Bernese Mountain puppy. With the golden retriever trio: Piper, Liberty, and "cousin" and frequent visitor, Pickles, Rex brings us up to four dogs. Rex, I'm told, will be hanging out mostly in the A&A upstairs office, though. He is awfully cute, I have to admit.

Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf? That would be Hanne Raby and her golden retriever, Luna, who had a run-in (run away?) with three very large canines on January 29, near their Morgan Drive area home. "I'm 100 percent positive they were wolves," Hanne tells me, adding that she is quite familiar with foxes and coyotes, as well as "coydogs." The three gray beasts that chased Luna in the early morning hours were much bigger than her 68-pound dog, she says. As usual, Hanne put Luna out first thing Monday morning and went to make coffee. "I got a weird feeling and went back to look for her," Hanne says. When Luna came storming around the side of the house, and froze in place, shaking, she knew something was up. Stepping out, she saw the three wolves standing there. "I was about 20 feet away from them, and couldn't believe what I was seeing," she says. Worried that the animals would advance on her terrified dog - or herself - Hanne started yelling. Luna came to her as the first the two smaller wolves backed off, and then the "huge" wolf; Luna considered going after them, but came right back to Hanne's call of "Danger!" And then, they were gone. The trio headed down toward Lake Zoar, from what Hanne could tell, and she wants area residents to be alert to this pack - especially if there are small pets, farm animals, or small children outside. She noticed tracks in the mud "larger than my hand - and I don't have small hands!" Who else is afraid of the big, bad wolf? That would be me...

Were you watching the Hallmark channel this past Sunday night? Did you do a double take at the Sprint commercial? Yup. That was Newtown's Keilly McQuail you saw, all right. Keilly is a 2007 NHS grad and 2011 graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts. We also note that she has had supporting roles in popular shows and movies, including The Big Sick, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, and Jessica Jones. Wishing you continued good luck, Keilly, in what can be a challenging career choice!

Ice fishing is alive in Sandy Hook. "Freddy the fisherman" recently caught a beautiful carp in a pond off of Route 34 in Sandy Hook. He lost a decent-size white bass when it fell off the hook when going through the ice hole, though. That's the luck of the fisherman, I suppose.

Those who faithfully follow the funnies, particularly Beetle Bailey, noted with regret this week the death of cartoonist Mort Walker, 94. Mr Walker drew the Beetle Bailey cartoon strip, found in thousands of papers, for 68 years. That makes Beetle quite the elderly private.

Julie vanderKroef must have noticed what a hard bench we have to rest on in the editorial office, when she stopped by. Not anymore - Julie sneaked in and left us a bench cushion she had made, covered in fabric that could not be more appropriate. The old-style newsprint material sets just the right tone, and happens to perfectly match the cushy little pillow Julie made us at Christmas. Thank you, Julie, from the whole staff (and any visitors who will now have a soft spot to land).

I'd like to stay curled up on that cushion, but duty calls. Be sure next week to... Read me again.

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