Gertie Rich is usually the first to get in touch that she’s seen or heard our birds returning in the spring. So when I saw her name pop up on my caller ID, my first thought was this couldn’t be; It’s way too early for ospreys. Instead, Gertie reported that she was looking at a vase full of camellias that she’d clipped from the bush in her own yard a few days ago. Imagine that — in full bloom in January? Along with the rest of the universe, Mother Nature is either angry or confused. Maybe the flowers are an apology for the tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. Whatever it is, enjoy.

We all know one city that has suffered Mother Nature’s wrath is New Orleans, left in tatters and under water by Hurricane Katrina six-plus years ago. A group of Greenport Interact club members (close to half from Oysterponds) plan to spend spring vacation there working on house builds for Habitat for Humanity. They will also tour Tulane University. They depart April 9 and need to raise $1,000 per student to cover costs. Students will be holding fundraisers but also need donations. Checks made out to Rotary District 7250 can be sent to Lydia Wells at the high school, 720 Front St., Greenport, NY 11944. Call her at the guidance office to find out what else they’re planning.

If you’ve always wanted to learn to draw, now is the time. Orient artist Laura Westlake will teach a colored pencil workshop at OHS on Feb. 15, 16, 22 and 29 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Call 323-2480 for cost and details.

We’ve all talked for years about the need to coordinate a community calendar so conflicts of special events can be avoided. For example, if the Boy Scouts are planning a spaghetti dinner, it’s is important to know that the PTA isn’t doing it also. It always seems like feast or famine with fun events. So who’s going to raise their hand and volunteer to do this? It will be important and much appreciated.

Another thing we all know is that Oysterponds is a very special place. I got a call last week asking if I knew whether Anne Hopkins was OK. The quest started on Platt Road, found me in Florida and then I found Anne in Manhattan — and I’m happy to report she now has the vision of an eagle after recent double cataract surgery. By now she has found her way back to Oysterponds. Glad all is well.

When Sarah graduated from high school, she received the Dr. Seuss book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” I’ve often looked back and thought how insightful that was, both good and bad. If you read his recent obituary, Ron Ross must have been the poster child for that book since he and his family had an amazing life full of incredible experiences. He is another man I picture sailing off into the sunset from Orient Harbor. Oysterponds extends sympathy to Rosa, Sarah and Samantha on their loss.

We also send thoughts for peace and comfort to Tony Romano and his family on the loss of his sister Adeline.

Let’s hope the NFL National Championship title is the first of many New York teams will snag this year. Even though there was so much hype, it lived up to it. It was a great game. See you all at spring training.