Let me join the ironic refrain du jour: Happy First day of Spring! I personally am trying to make the transition to a more open expectation of weather systems in this new age of climate change. That philosophy can be characterized in four simple words that encapsulate all of the vagaries inherent in predicting our evolving weather patterns: Get used to it. 

Abnormal is the new normal. The calendar announcing the first day of any of our seasons is based on a rapidly receding weather past. My fear is that the next major calendar iteration will need to arrange itself around natural disasters like: First Day of Flooding, First Day of Tornados, First Day of Forest Fires, etc. I wish I was exaggerating for comedic effect, but even if we do something radical to counteract the warming trend causing these disturbances, we won’t see an impact for decades. All the more reason to start getting very serious, now. 

D12 – The Transition Towns movement continues apace. Ideas are being advanced for home and community energy initiatives, trash & recycling alternatives, snow-free sidewalks, group transportation options and a variety of creative ways both large and small to improve our community’s ability to lower our carbon footprint. Smaller groups arranged by categories are setting up informational websites and exchanging links to solutions from around the globe. There will be a Transition Towns festival on April 20 from 1-4pm at the StAP Lutheran Church so you can see what it’s all wrought so far. Visit the D12 website to find out more about TT and other spring happenings. 

SCHOOLS – I’m going to use this space to talk about the Foundation grant cycle as we have a number of education related applicants this year. The deadline for applications was last Friday and the requests will far outstrip our Available to Grant total. For context, thanks to the generosity of our neighbors we have around $30,000 to give out annually. The request total this year is just shy of $70,000. And they are very good requests for very important programs, many that would help our kids in interesting and effective ways, like artists–in-residency, gardening, boat-building and film-making programs. Support for band tours, environmental camps, and even in-school dental hygiene presentations. Just the education-related requests alone would eat up our funding amounts and then some. 

That would leave no money for senior care, community development, local food shelves and other service oriented needs. That the needs this year have increased so much is a little surprising given the stock market recovery and generally optimistic economic forecasts for our country. I think we are seeing the results of four years of belt-tightening. There seems to be a lot of money in the business sector but a cautious approach to hiring and a concern for health care costs is making all of us nervous about our futures. My hope is that the upcoming state budget bill will begin to address our major education and health needs in ways that will decrease the reliance on the non-profit sector to keep filling theses growing gaps in our critical public institutions. In the meantime, know that the Foundation will do its best to be good stewards of the funds you have all made available to support our most important assets. 

LISTSERV – Reports of a wily coyote perhaps looking to thin the turkey flock have been posted by at least a couple of neighbors in the Eustis woods area. There are those who suggest it may be a grey fox, but the reporters seem pretty certain. Has anyone heard coyotes howling at night? That’s something I don’t think fox do. If you have a small pet and an unfenced yard, you may want to take some extra precautions…The U of M is offering “Classes Without Quizzes” for alumni and friends. There are some very interesting topics being presented such as biomimicry, plant genetics, robotics and something called “Beer & Hops in the Midwest.” Check it out here…the community is still awaiting some solutions for Como Ave traffic calming around our elementary school. Councilman Stark is meeting with the city to discuss options to increase safety from Commonwealth to Scudder. 

StAPnotes – The Muffuletta is offering a spring dinner and wine-tasting next Tuesday, March 26. Combine prawn, arctic char, Cornish hen and braised beef cheeks with some Grgich wines from Napa and you’ve got the makings of a spring celebration indoors where the temps are more springlike. Call 644-9116 for info...to get your palates ready, head over to the little wine shoppe tomorrow afternoon for a Free In Store Wine Tasting from 4:30 - 7:30PM…Then head over to the Coffee Grounds Coffeehouse, a half block north of Hoyt & Hamline for music from 7-9pm featuring the Park’s own, Phil Carlson, at 7:00 pm, followed at 8:00 pm by John Whitehead, Steve Caspers and George Domstrand doing old-timey material…a week from tomorrow, March 28, from 7-9pm Thursday, The Price of Sand, a St. Paul documentary by local filmmaker Jim Tittle about the mining of silica sand to be used in hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") will be shown at the Grandview Theatre. The movie tells stories of some of the effects this mining boom is having on the rural communities near the mines…Pilates will be offered for another session from March 21-May 23 at the Langford Park Recreation Center.  To register call the Rec center at 651 298-5765.  

That’s all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.