Longwood Gardens was awake early last weekend when pass holders were invited to come see the Children's Garden and the new display, Winter Escape. The flowers, as always, are knock-out beautiful. The main thing is the gorgeous fragrance when it's icy cold outside and a snowstorm on the way, The go-carts were not in service as it was too cold for them to function. Instead they had a bus taking people to the conservatory, which was very nice. Unfortunately, people were not taken right to the building but dropped off many yards from the entrance. While this was only a small problem arriving, when people came out for the ride back there was no where to get out of the bitter, bitter wind. The turnaround on a cold day needs rethinking.Inside visitors were met with urns of hot chocolate, coffee and tea and a spread of pastries. These were very welcome after the icy blast. The table with tattoos for the children was moved inside the conservatory as it was too cold in the entrance room.

The Children's Garden held its usual attraction for the kiddies, where it is sometimes hard not to get soaking wet. One volunteer told me that they always have towels on hand and now that people are having repeat visits to the garden, some parents are arriving with changes of clothing.

In the meantime Long-wood, as always, is a joy in the middle of a bleak winter. The Winter Escape will be in place through March 31.

Polar

If you sometimes wonder if you have not made a big enough splash in your life, it's not too late to sign up for a plunge into the icy waters of the Brandywine Creek, and it will benefit the Brandywine Valley Association. I know that every year across the nation people plunge into icy waters pretending they are polar bears. Your turn has come. On Saturday, Feb. 9, the Brandywine Valley Association will have its own Polar Plunge in the Brandywine Creek at Brandywine Picnic Park at routes 52 and 100.

The instructions say that you must wear a swimsuit only - no T-shirts or wet suits, and you must wear shoes. While they tell you to wear a swim suit they also say they give a prize for best costume, so you figure it out. You are also told to wear a bathrobe for before and after the plunge. You, because it is not going to be me, should also bring a second pair of shoes, extra towels, a blanket and layered, loose fitting clothes.

Plungers are urged to get pledges from friends, family and businesses. It is suggested that you come with friends, as it will be more fun, so apparently this is supposed to be fun

You have to register this week and pay $25 ($15 for students with ID,) so call 610-793-1090 for information. There will be prizes for the best costume, the student group with the most plungers, the team raising the most money and the individual raising the most.

Lecture

The Hadley Fund will sponsor a lecture by Dan George on "Japanese Art, A Historical Perspective" on Monday, Jan. 28, at 8 p.m. at Unionville High School. This illustrated lecture will discuss various styles of Japanese painting in the context of their historical origins. These include Buddhist-inspired religious art, scroll paintings that tell a story, ink painting, gold background screens and woodblock prints. Since his retirement from the DuPont Co., George has been a constant lecturer on Japanese History and Culture at the University of Delaware's Academy of Life-Long Learning. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Signing

Children's book illustrator Jerry Pinkney will speak at the Brandywine River Museum on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 1 p.m. The creator of all those adorable animal drawings that are on display at the museum through March 9, he will sign books after the lecture. Books available at the store include "Aesop's Fables" and "The Little Red Hen."

Theatre

The Delaware Theatre Company's next presentation will be the Tony Award-winning comedy "Art" by Yasmina Reza from Jan. 23 through Feb. 10. The play also won awards in Paris and London. Although written by a woman, this plays takes a scathing look at the bounds and bonds of male friendship. The tension comes when Serge buys a piece of modern art for an outrageous sum and his friend Marc finds this incomprehensible.

The set is designed by Obie award winning designer Beowulf Boritt. For tickets call 302-594-1100.

A Cappella

The well traveled A Cappella Pops singing ensemble will perform at St. Michael Lutheran Church on Sunday, Jan. 27, at 3 p.m. They will sing specially commissioned arrangements of enduringly popular songs such as "Misty", "Good Vibrations" and "All the Things You Are". The group has performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall and at World Jamborees in Montreal and Indianapolis. Suggested donation is $5 per adult and $2 per child.

Jazz

Jazz lovers should be thrilled to hear that acclaimed jazzman Chris Potter will be appearing at the Harold Prince Theatre, 3680 Walnut St. in Philadelphia on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Potter has toured Europe and the states, was the youngest recipient of the Danish Jazzpar Prize and has received several Grammy nominations. For tickets call 215-898-3900.

Wine

Friday, Feb. 1, at the Chase Center on the Riverfront will be an evening of fine wine and gourmet food at the 19th annual Wine Feast & Auction with auctioneer Bill Bunch to benefit the Delaware Theatre Company. From 6 to 9 p.m. you can enjoy wine tastings, fine cuisine and both live and silent auctions. Tickets are $90 and $65 for ages 21-35 either on line at www.Delawaretheatre.org or by calling 302-594-1100.

Beers

on Saturday, Jan. 26, beginning at 4 p.m. at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, head brewer Chris LaPierre will host his annual celebration of award winning Belgium beers with many of the brewers on hand. They will also offer a three-course dinner served with specially selected Belgium beers for $40 a person. For information or reservations call 610-738-9600.

'Chapel/Chapter'

The Tony Award winning Bill T. Jones will perform the Philadelphia premiere of the dance "Chapel/Chapter" on Jan. 29 through 30 at the Annenberg Center. This 70-minute work incorporates the audience on-stage to bear witness to the three stories of murder and trauma. The performance incorporates singers, 11 dancers and four musicians. For tickets call 215-898-3900.

'Skylight'

The Lantern Theatre Co. in Philadelphia at 10th and Ludlow Streets retains its reputation for presenting important plays with their upcoming play "Skylight" by playwright David Hare Feb. 1 through 24. In this play two ex-lovers meet in a chilly London flat in a head-on collision of wills and desires with outstanding actors Genevieve Perrier and Peter DeLaurier. Tickets from 215-829-0395. For more information go online at www.lanterntheatre.org.

Comcast

The Comcast Foundation has announced a special community outreach program for 2008 that will benefit the Brandywine River Museum. Their grant will provide funding for low-income and under-served students for transportation, museum admission and educational materials for each student as they visit the museum. The first group will be 80 fifth- grade students from Caln Elementary (Coatesville Area School District) on January 30. They will also host other groups in the greater Philadelphia area and New Castle County.

Docents

The beautiful museum Winterthur has 425 community members who make the extensive programs at the museum possible by volunteering their time. Believe it or not, Winterthur could use a few more. They need more docents who would like to learn about American antiques and take visitors on guided tours. Volunteers get benefits like free admission, discounted admission to all events and discounts in the stores and restaurants.

If you have the time and the interest, contact Ellen S. Hughes at 302-0888-4871.

Caryl E. Huffaker lives in Kennett Township.

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