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Whoopie pies on Mt. Washington and other stories that made us smile this week

Clouds gather over Mt. Washington in the late afternoon of a winter day. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Clouds gather over Mt. Washington in the late afternoon of a winter day. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Editor's Note: This is a roundup of this week's moments of joy from WBUR's seasonal newsletter, The Pick Me Up. If you want a little bit of good news to help you get through the week and push through to spring, sign up here. 

From one man's love of the cold to a cafe with a scaly staff, here are some of the stories that brought us joy this week.

1. The man who really loves the cold

This  71-year-old volunteer at the Mount Washington Observatory spends his days cooking, cleaning and caring for scientists atop New England’s highest peak.

Many people heeded official directions to stay indoors during this month’s frigid temperatures without quarrel. Newton resident Ira Seskin, however, was not one of these people. A true “winter person,” Seskin absolutely loves the cold — so much so that he regularly treks up to the summit of Mount Washington, home to some of the world’s most extreme weather.

“I was so upset that they had the record wind chill and I wasn’t there to enjoy it,” Seskin told

Since 1990, Seskin has been making trips up to Mount Washington where he and other volunteers carry out housekeeping tasks so that the scientists at the observatory can focus on climate research and product testing, among other things.

Seskin even occasionally prepares a surprise treat for those on the mountain; this past January, it was homemade whoopie pies. (They look so tasty that I’m beginning to think -108-degree wind chills might be worth it.)

And by the way, did I mention that Seskin has a tremendous goatee? Check out the full story over at

2. These not-so-fuzzy friends

An animal cafe in Malaysia is redefining what it means to be a “cuddly creature.”

Pet cafes — where patrons can enjoy a warm drink or dessert in a lounge-like environment while socializing with animals — are a joyful destination for animal lovers of all kinds. You may have heard of cat cafes. You might even be following the current development of one in Beacon Hill. But would you ever consider going to a reptile cafe?

If you recoil at the thought, reptile enthusiast Yap Ming Yang hopes a visit to his new herpetological cafe, “Fangs,” will change that. There, bearded dragons, leopard geckos and corn snakes await human cuddles. Reuters reports that Yap hopes visitors can learn to appreciate these reptiles as much as they do puppies and kittens.

I’m partial to tortoises and turtles myself, so there’s no need to change my mind; I’m all in, so long as I can wash my hands — and find a reasonable flight to Kuala Lumpur.

3. A random act of kindness that was "snow big deal"

One local mail carrier took time out of his work day to help an elderly neighbor.

Wanderly Duarte, a mail carrier in Arlington, had noticed Ann before. When the going gets tough (read: snowy), it’s only natural to think about those who may be struggling under the weather’s circumstances. But Duarte, uniquely, went the extra mile when he stopped on his route to shovel Ann’s walkway so she could get in and out of her home safely. (He probably didn’t know a local news station editor was watching all the while.)

Ann tried to offer Duarte money, but he said no.

“It’s just a courtesy,” Duarte told WCVB.

Witness a random act of kindness you’d like to applaud? Let us know.


Hanna Ali Associate Producer
Hanna Ali is an associate producer for newsletters at WBUR.



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