Hearing that WAWA convenience stores were giving out free coffee in celebration of International Coffee Day, on Friday morning your correspondent headed over to the Mt Airy store to grab a cup. The scene in the coffee area was crowded, festive- and a touch frenzied. The barista, who was refilling large coffee canisters non-stop, expected the store would serve about 4000 free cups that morning and said WAWA observes NATIONAL Coffee Day each year. He wasn't sure where WAWA coffee is sourced from but assured me all l needed to know was that it is the "best possible quality." It tasted just fine to me but, actually, I did want to know more so a little bit later that morning I visited the High Point Cafe in the Allen Lane train station Their barista wasn't acquainted with the unofficial holiday but quipped that every day is International Coffee day at High Point and comped me a delicious cup. He elaborated that High Point's "ethically sourced - locally roasted" coffee comes from small farms in Guatemala, Ethiopia, Sumatra and elsewhere. Watch customers crowd store for free coffee on National Coffee day and interviews.
Naturalists at the Wissahickon Environmental Center Treehouse are raising and launching monarch butterflies. In the Andorra meadow a short distance above the Trreehouse, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation staffers Christina Moresi and Maris Harmon harvest milk weed leaves on which monarch butterflies have laid their small white eggs. They bring the leaves down to the Treehouse where the eggs hatch into caterpillars. They demand an abundant supply of milkweed leaves to munch on and grow. Moresi has filmed the whole metamorphosis. The grown caterpillars will climb to the top of a screen mesh and spin into milky green colored pupae. As the pupae mature, their casings become translucent and the butterflies' distinctive orange markings become visible. Finally the encapsulated butterflies emerge out of the bottom and pump blood to stretch out their new wings.
The naturalists place a small round tag on each newborn's wing and register it in an online database so if it is found in Mexico or en route, it can be identified. Moresi (right in photo) explains that the butterflies which lay their eggs in the Andorra are the fourth generation of butterflies migrating from hibernation in Mexico. Before they are released, the young monarchs are fed a rich diet of nectar and become flight worthy in a tall netted enclosure. The Center announces when they are about to release a group of monarchs. They are bound for Mexico, an extraordinary 2000 mile journey.
(Interviewer's Note: Conservationists have been actively engaged in combating a severe long term decline in the population of the monarch butterfly, a beautiful and important pollinator, that has been attributed to habitat loss from logging and pesticide use)
Aron Goldschneider and his fine artist step-father designed a circular racial unity logo to counter the hateful and divisive rhetoric of the times. According to his website, www.standforracialunity.com, racial harmony is a personal matter; he grew up on a block as a minority white kid and his wife is a Japanese national. Their daughter, Bronwyn (shown in lower photo panel above) and her friends Ameer Johnson and Claire Gunawan were out at the Mt Airy Village Fair on Sunday September 17 selling t-shirts and car magnets bearing the design. For a small donation fairgoers got 5 turns to toss a bean bag through the empty center of the logo mounted on a large board for the chance of winning a t-shirt or magnet. Proceeds benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center to support its legal fights for racial, economic and LGBTQ justice. The students have been successfully bringing their racial unity t-shirt campaign to their diverse Philadelphia high schools. Watch bean bag toss for racial harmony video and interview here
Your correspondent's classmate got interested in Indian dancing after she Bhangra danced all week at her stepsister's wedding in the Punjab region of India. At the last class of the session the classmate brought along her young daughters who closely followed the moves of the teacher.
A mother and son and another member of a Christian community in Center City Philadelphia were outside a neighborhood food store raising money for a one week trip to Haiti where infrastructure repair remains a high need after the 2010 earthquake. The young man and 11 other youths will help conduct bible study for children in an orphanage and the 4 adults on the mission will do electrical and construction repair at a school.
Watch video interview of Iraq war vet on long solo Memorial Day walk with PTSD dog. On Memorial Day, Iraq war vet Bobby Caroselli, gears up and takes a trek to commemorate his 28 fallen battalion comrades until he can walk no further. One arm and shoulder cradle the pole upon which a large American flag is hoisted while the other hand firmly holds the harness of his PTSD German Shepherd, "Corporal." He is outfitted in a camouflage flak vest, as is his dog, and his backpack bears the names of his fallen mates. He served in the army infantry during the 2007 surge and, only 19 at the time, he says he grew up fast. When asked about his combat experience he relates only that he had "seen enough." He remembers his buddies fondly and, recalling their humor and imaginative pranks, a smile comes over his face. Your correspondent struck up a conversation with Caroselli after he had paused near the war memorial atop the Water Tower Recreation Center fields. He and Corporal then resumed their solitary Memorial day march under gray, drizzly skies, the red and white striped flag flapping and snapping smartly behind.
At our neighborhood train station my son and I heard lots of frantic chirping then saw a baby bird on the concrete ground. It appeared to have fallen from the wooden eaves high above. I started a live Periscope stream and solicited suggestions from tuners-in :"put it back in nest", "give it worms", "call 911". Someone encouraged me to take it I to the wildlife rehabilitation I had mentioned. And so I did after my son boarded the train. At the center, the receiving rehabilitator examined the bird, identified it as a plump baby sparrow, said that it was a little splayed but its wing were not broken, and that it would have lots of brothers and sisters for company because people had brought in about 20 some such babies in recent days. It will be cared for until it can fly and be released back into nature. Two days later I called back with the case number I had been given and learned from the woman who accepted the patient, that baby bird 2540 was doing just fine. Watch shorter video here. Watch longer video here.
Anita Chhantyal didn't know why the Nirvana Indian restaurant she and her husband had just relocated to Lafayette HIll from Conshohocken was filling up this opening night. But she suspected that others like your correspondent and his wife, had simply seen the "Nirvana" and "Open" signs draped over the old sign, "The Lucky Dog." The dog's luck must have run out.
Natives of Nepal, Chhantyal and her chef husband, are donating 20% of proceeds the first few days to the Nepalese earthquake relief effort. More than 10000 people died in the disaster, Chhantyal reports, and a niece of hers is recovering from leg injuries.
When they were not pausing for impromptu interviews,two young American waitresses with enthusiasm for Indian food, bustled around filling orders from eager first night patrons.