BEREA, Ohio — With most of us spending more time than we’d like confined to home on these cold and gray winter days, what could be better than “thinking spring.”

With this in mind, the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District will soon have native seeds, plants and trees available for spring planting, allowing us to “go native” in our yards, shrink our lawns, contribute to the urban tree canopy and control stormwater by way of rain gardens.

“It’s a fact that these native plants and trees are better suited to the local environment, establish faster and are hardier,” says CSWCD spokeswoman Amy Roskilly.

Native seeds will be available in packs containing enough seed to cover 250 square feet. Six different seed packs will be available, including Mesic Woodland Edge, Rain Garden, Ohio Pollinator Oasis, Butterfly/Hummingbird, Mesic Annual/Perennial Forbs and an Annual Seed Mix.

Seed packets are $16, except the Annual Seed Mix, which is $13.

Six native plant kits are also available, including Butterfly/Bird, Prairie, Prairie Grass, Pollinator Shade, Rain Garden and Wetland. Each kit contains 50 native plugs and is suitable for covering about 100 square feet.

Kits are $140 each and are shipped directly to the address on the order.

Native plants require less water, fertilizer and pesticide, and their long root systems enable them to help control stormwater and erosion.

“These plants are low maintenance and their long-term upkeep is dramatically less costly than turf grass,” Roskilly. said. “These plants also provide a habitat suitable to native animals, such as birds and bees.”

Order forms go live Feb. 1. Order deadline is March 22 and pickup will be at the Cuyahoga SWCD office in mid-April. For more complete information, visit SWCD online.

Honoring MLK: This is the 25th year that Baldwin Wallace University, the Berea City Schools, Cuyahoga County Public Library, local churches and civic groups have joined together to produce and participate in a tribute to the goals, ideals and dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week under the banner of “One Flame, One Voice, One Dream.”

For a guide to remaining MLK Week activities throughout the City of Berea and across the BW campus, visit online.

Coyotes out and about: The next 4-6 weeks is mating season for coyotes, so if you want to keep your dog or cat from becoming a critter’s potential snack, don’t let them out alone and, when they are outside the house, keep watch on your surroundings.

Coyote breeding typically peaks in late February and early March. The gestation period averages 58 to 63 days, and male coyotes can become particularly aggressive this time of year.

The long and short of it is, coyotes always pose a risk to your dog and other small pets, particularly at this time of year.

Connie Stiffler of Brook Park says a best defense against a coyote is your voice: “The louder you scream, clap your hands — even throw things at them — and make as much noise as you can.

“I’ve had them all around my property,” Stiffler said. “Noise is your best defense. You don’t want them close enough to need mace — trust me!”

Textile shed: St. Pauly Textile has reopened its clothing collection shed at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 276 E. Bagley Road in Berea.

Clothing, shoes and stuffed animals are accepted. No household items, goods or books, please. The shed is located in the northeast corner of the church parking lot.

Donors sought: The Kiwanis Club of Berea is seeking donations of new gloves, mittens, hats and personal hygiene items for its Operation Berea Kind project.

The items will be available in small plastic bags attached to the fence surrounding Safety Town at the Berea Recreation Center, 451 Front St.

Donors can place the items directly into the bags or drop off donations at the Recreation Center. A box marked Operation BErea Kind will be inside the door.

Community members are welcome to take what they need from items on the fence. Give what you can; take what you need.

Scary visitor: Someone showing up at your door, all bundled up against the cold and wearing a hoodie and face mask to boot, can be downright scary!

Nicole Ashforth, on the Middleburg Heights Community Facebook page, said someone came to her door wearing just that type of garb, claiming to represent a local cable and internet provider.

“He was all bundled up so you couldn’t even see his face with his hoodie and mask,” Ashforth said. “We used our video doorbell to speak to him and tell him we were not interested and didn’t want him to come back.”

I can’t say that anybody can be blamed for being intimidated under the circumstances.

Maybe there’s something the cable companies can do to make sure their door-to-door representatives are less intimidating to potential customers?

Mystery mailbox: Joseph Colini of Middleburg heights, on Facebook’s Middleburg Heights Community page, said that every time he has dropped his mail into a mailbox at Barriemore Avenue and Webster Road, the mail “never gets to its destination.”

City resident Gretchen Karl, on the other hand, says she uses the mailbox all the time and “has no issues with it.”

So who doesn’t love a mystery? While I don’t believe in haunted mailboxes, this one may be worth checking out.

People’s Community Church pantry: 628 Wesley Drive, 440-234-0609. Open 10 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of the month.

Church Street Ministries: 1480 Bagley Road, 440-239-0549. Open noon to 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Free Community Meal: At St. Paul Lutheran Church, 276 E. Bagley Road, served once a month, 5 to 6 p.m. Drive-up only. For more information, call 440-243-1144.

Mini pantries: There are two Little Free Pantries located near People’s Community Church and the Berea Branch Library. The Prospect Pantry is at the corner of Prospect Street and Jacqueline Drive.

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