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This Sweet Deal’s a Natural

--If you seek a more romantic source for your pure maple syrup than the grocery store, Robert MacArthur has got a deal for you. His maple trees in Vermont and Upstate New York are up for rent, complete with sap buckets. The rent is $33 a year for a guaranteed 65 ounces of maple syrup. “I have enough trees to go around for thousands of renters,” said MacArthur, owner of North Country Corp. of Cambridge, Mass. He also rents lobster traps and bee hives on a “time-sharing” basis, all under the trademark of “Rent Mother Nature.” Each lease comes with a guarantee from Mother Nature, and a progress report on the season from MacArthur. “It’s designed as a gift to get people involved, to have them share our joy in making the syrup or the honey,” he said. “But we are not a grocery store and are not in the business of selling you the most syrup for the least amount of money.” MacArthur says he especially enjoys writing the progress reports and sending a few extra presents to his renters. When several maple trees were knocked over in an ice storm, they were cut and burned in the sugarhouse. MacArthur says he sent the ashes to the renters “with condolences.”

--Miss Iceland, Holmfriour Karlsottir, was chosen Miss World before a cheering audience in Royal Albert Hall in London. The runners-up were Miss United Kingdom, Mandy Adele Shires, and Miss U.S.A., Brenda Denton of Hobbs, N.M. Karlsottir, a 22-year-old kindergarten teacher, was awarded a $7,000 prize in the competition entered by young women from 78 countries.

--Former Sen. Harrison A. Williams Jr. is enjoying his first taste of freedom in nearly two years as he finishes out his Abscam prison sentence in a halfway house in Newark, N.J. Williams, 65, left the federal prison in Allenwood, Pa., on Nov. 4 for Pyramid House, according to a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Prisons in Philadelphia. Williams, the first senator in 80 years to be sentenced to jail, was convicted of bribery and conspiracy in May, 1981. He is due to be released from the halfway house Jan. 31.

--Prince Charles quietly marked his 37th birthday as he relaxed with Princess Diana at their country home in Gloucestershire, west of London. The royal couple flew home from Florida on Wednesday.

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--Boston school officials, trying to keep students from turning their noses up at school lunches, are spending $20,000 for scratch and sniff stickers that smell like bananas, watermelons or peanuts when rubbed. “It’s a gimmick to encourage kids to eat their lunch,” said Kay Brophy, food services director for the Boston School Department. The stickers are distributed at all elementary schools, she said. Students receive the stickers if they clean their lunch plates. “Not all our students bring good eating habits to school,” John Nucci, School Committee president, told the Boston Herald. “I’m sure they need to be instructed and convinced that green beans are better for them than Twinkies.”


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