Jan's Column 2016
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Today is the ultra-penultimate day of the year 2016. It has only two claims to fame besides being New Year’s Eve’s Eve’s Eve. It is National Pepper Pot Day – which celebrates a soup made at the request of General George Washington to cheer up his troops in the middle of the hard winter of 1777-1778 The recipe includes peppercorns, tripe, bacon, and root vegetables – pretty much anything you might have laying around the old military camp. The pepper pot, also known as the Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup has been called the “soup that won the war”. It is also National Tick Tock Day. Tick Tock Day is a reminder that there are only 2 days remaining in the year. So, do you have any unfinished business that needs to be done in this calendar year? Is there something big you want to accomplish yet this year? Better hurry up. Time’s running out. Tick tock. If you have taken care of all your 2016 business then now’s the time to relax and read a good book – many of which are listed below. Wishing you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! Enjoy!
This is the last library column before Christmas Eve, the start of Hanukkah, Christmas itself, and the start of Kwanzaa. The major end-of-December holidays shall have passed except New Year’s Eve. Today, December 22nd, is the eve of another end-of-December, which is dear to the hearts of “Seinfeld” fans. Festivus made its way into popular culture in 1997 when Frank Costanza explained how the holiday originated as a reaction to the crass commercialism of Christmas. As you may or may not recall, an aluminum pole is displayed in the house –without decorations. This is called the Festivus pole. There is a Festivus dinner in the evening at which the “Airing of the Grievances” occurs. The airing is a round robin affair when all those in attendance get to describe how the others have disappointed him or her during the past year. The “Feats of Strength” follows dinner in which contenders wrestle the head of the household. The wrestling (and Festivus) continue until the head of household is pinned. And finally, everyone should be on the lookout for a “Festivus Miracle”. These miracles occur frequently and are rather unimpressive as miracles go. It might be as simple as carrying four 12 packs of soda into the house in one trip without having the boxes rip apart. If you’re interested in adding Festivus to the holidays you celebrate at the end of December, there is a website which has an “Airing of Grievances Worksheet” you can print out so you’re ready when that part of evening rolls around. There is also a little business-size challenge card you can print. There is a Facebook page at Happy Festivus, and – I don’t know if I’m happy or sad to report—a Festivus song at here: http://www.festivus.biz/festivus.mp3. Happy Festivus Eve and remember “Festivus for the Rest of Us”. Enjoy!
December 15th. Ten days and counting to the big day. Christmas is definitely coming with as much inevitability as winter has been this past week. Last year temperatures were in the 30s and 40s and we had rain, not snow. Last week on December 8th and 9th – that I am personally aware of. The sandhill cranes started heading south in large numbers. Hundreds and hundreds of them were flying over the village loudly proclaiming they were leaving. They might even have been suggesting that others take a cue from them and start their own migration. And perhaps some of us will. Next week the winter solstice occurs which means that winter shall have officially arrived on December 21st. This year, I think winter is more than a little bit early. If the long evenings and cold have you snuggling in for a long winter’s nap and you need some good books to read, there are many new arrivals at the library some of which are listed below. Enjoy!
The good news is that there are still two weeks and two days before the big winter holiday eve is upon us. Yikes! Did I just say two weeks? I was going to be reassuring and say something along the lines of “There’s still loads of time to get all your shopping, baking, wrapping, and any other word that ends in “ing” that you do around this season, such as – oh, I don’t know—caroling, wassailing, sleigh riding, and shoveling leap to mind without a second’s thought.” But two weeks isn’t all that much time. Sure you have to take a little break now and then and recharge your batteries, but it really is getting to be nose-to-the-grindstone time now. We have rounded the last turn and are heading into the home stretch as it were. Not only in the amount of time available as we count down the days to the holidays at the end of this month, but also as we count down the loss of light to the shortest day of the year on the 21st. But the good news is that yesterday, today, and tomorrow (the 7th, 8th, and 9th of December) the sun sets at 4:22. That is the earliest that the sun sets around here. On the 10th the sun sets a minute later and by the time the 25th rolls around, we’ve gained six minutes on the sun set end of the day. Of course, we continue to loss time on the front end of the day with the sun rising later and later until it stops at 7:29 and hangs there until January 10th when sun rise is a minute earlier. We are almost through the darkest days of the year. While you’re recharging your batteries and waiting for longer daylight hours, there are a number of new books to keep you entertained. They’re listed below. Enjoy!
Today is December 1st. Not only is it the first day that you can open one of the little doors on your count-down-to Christmas calendar, also known as an Advent Calendar, but has some national celebrations attached to it. It is National Pie Day (although some would argue that day actually falls on January 23rd.) So eat some pie and then eat some again on the 23rd of January. It is also National Eat a Red Apple Day. Another easy national special day to celebrate, merely and simply eat a red apple! Today is also “Bifocals at the Monitor Liberation Day” It is the day to “Free yourself from dealing with blurry screen images by getting your eyes examined to see if bifocals can help”. Finally, it is Rosa Parks Day. On this day in 1955, Rosa Parks was returning home after a day at work. She was seated in the “colored” section of the Montgomery, Alabama bus. The bus got crowded and she was asked to give up her seat to a white passenger. She refused and was arrested for this refusal, found guilty of violating the city ordinance, and fined $10 and a court fee. Civil Rights history was made with Martin Luther King, Jr. among others, organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott for the day of her trial. And that’s about all I have to tell you about the first day of December. Below you will find some of the new books that have recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!
If you are a weekly reader of this column, then you will be reading this sometime around Thanksgiving Day. The name of this holiday got me thinking about feeling thankful for something – which is a purpose of the day and not, as some would have you believe, about eating more than is humanly possible—and what the difference is between the words “thankful” and “grateful”. There must be a difference, or we could call the holiday “Gratitude-giving Day” instead or at least interchangeably. In a usage note, the Cambridge dictionary says that “grateful” is the word we use to talk about how we feel when someone has been kind or does us a favor and that “thankful” is used when we talk about feeling relieved that something bad, dangerous, or unpleasant didn’t happen. When you think about these definitions and the first Thanksgiving by the Pilgrims and other early colonists. Most were thankful to have survived the ocean journey, most where thankful that there was a harvest of any sort, and that there was game to hunt. Early thanksgiving celebrations were tied to that feeling of relief that nothing bad, unpleasant, or dangerous has happened. Nowadays, while we’re sitting around the Thanksgiving table with family and friends, our feelings may lean a little more towards gratitude. We are grateful for the opportunity to be sharing a meal with loved ones. We are grateful that someone in the family has organized this event and invited us. But we are also thankful that we can all be together again for another holiday; that everyone has arrived safely; that we have enough. The library staff wishes you a happy Thanksgiving filled with feelings of both gratitude and thankfulness. Below you will find some books that may help you get through Black Friday when you may not be feeling neither grateful nor thankful. Enjoy!
A week from today is Thanksgiving Day. Funny how that day just sort of crept up on you isn’t it? All these sunny days with temperatures feeling absolutely balmy for this time of year made time stand still. There were still flowers in bloom (and still are close to the library building (the stone absorbs the heat during the day and gives it off overnight)) and birds are still hanging around not feeling any urge to head further south yet. But, Thanksgiving will be hear shortly and that means that the next major holiday (and I do not mean Black Friday nor Cyber Monday) will also soon be upon us. In fact, it is precisely 30 days from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve this year. That’s 720 hours or 43,200 minutes or 2,592,000 seconds. Still lots of time to think about year-end gifts and giving. If you’re looking for a worthy cause to make a year-end donation to, consider the library’s endowment fund. Right now there is a matching fund / challenge grant from the Madison Community Foundation in play. For every two dollars you give, the grant will give us a dollar. In future years, funds from the endowment will be used to enrich our collections, renew our facility, expand our programs, and find innovative ways of meeting the needs and interests of the community. Your donation will go farther this year. While you’re considering your year-end giving, below are some new books that have arrived at the library. Enjoy!
If you had asked what I had in my calendar for last Saturday at 8:15 a.m. You would have seen the entry “buy donuts”—because, after all, it was National Doughnut Day”. This entry was glossed by “for the shark movers”. This was followed by the 8:30- 9 a.m. entry which said “move shark”. Why, I hear you asking yourself, was I involved in moving a shark? Well, it’s a long story that starts last summer at the Marshfield Public Library. That library was moving into a new building in the not-to-distant future and was looking to find a home for their 14-foot, papier mache, great white shark. We decided that Larry the Library Shark, as he was affectionately known at the Marshfield library, could find a home with us here in DeForest. After all, we already had the big fiberglass cow, Rosie. Prior to moving Larry the Library Shark on Saturday, we had to move Rosie, the cow, upstairs to make room for him on top of the crates in the Children’s section. Moving the cow only required four of us. Moving Larry took about double that. Getting Larry to our library required finding someone with a truck who was heading this way with empty and who was willing to deal with a 14-foot, somewhat delicate, shark. That someone was found and at about 9 a.m. on Saturday morning we carried Larry into the Library and placed him on the crates which have become his new home. He brought his pal, Lenny the Lobster, with him. Those two are keeping each other company as they get used to their new library. Stop by and say “Hi” to Larry and Lenny when you get a chance! If you need an excuse to come and see Larry and Lenny, we have a number of new book arrivals for you to look at too. Enjoy!
November. The grayest of months. The month of departures as more and more birds fly further south. The month of harvest when fields are stripped clean and geese, crows, turkeys, cranes, and deer are once again seen wandering about as they forage. November. That month of national elections. That month of gathering with family; of being thankful for the harvest and of huddling with family in anticipation of the winter that is coming. The month when count-downs to Christmas start in earnest as does the panic about getting the house ready and the gifts purchased. November – usually of the month of the first measurable snow and not usually a month when you are still covering flowers. The month of bare tree branches silhouetted against gray skies and the loss of daylight savings time. The month when the sun is set before 5 p.m. at its beginning and by the end of the month by 4:30. The month of long autumnal evenings. And friends, there isn’t a better time of year for settling in with a good book, curled up in something warm, with perhaps a warm beverage near at hand, than this. Below you will find a number of new books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!
By the way (and thanks for asking), the Studio 203 project did get funded. Thanks to all who contributed! Keep your eye on the Market Street side of the library as you exit and enter. New things shall be coming in the not too distant future.
As of this writing – Sunday around noon—the fundraising for the library’s Studio 203 project is only $505 from its goal of $3,325. To date, 20 people have donated $2,820. Not wanting to sound like the pledge campaigns that so drive me crazy on the local public radio stations but being willing to risk it at this point since we are so close to our goal and so close to running out of time, let me remind you that there is still time to donate. This fund drive ends on Saturday, October 29th at 11:45 p.m. Here is a three sentence explanation of what the Studio is about: “It will be a space that changes frequently and will be an engaging and attractive area that draws visitors of all ages in to do a quick hands-on activity as they enter or exit the library on the Market Street side. The Studio will explore a variety of arts and crafts. This small area will provide a place for our community to experience, learn, and create, and we're excited to get started!” If you haven’t donated already – and there are only 20 of you at this writing that what follows the dash at the end of this aside does not apply to—please consider doing so. Ten of you giving fifty-five dollars each would put us over the top. 25 giving 20 dollars would also get us within $5. We are rapidly running out of time and you can make a difference by making a timely donation. Thanks in advance for your consideration. After you’ve donated (check out the library’s website for more information at www.deforestlibrary.org) you can reward yourself by reading one of the new books which arrived at the library this past week. Enjoy!
For those of you who skip ahead and look at the titles of books at the bottom of this, you may have noted that the last book noted is called the “Twelve Days of Christmas”. Yes. It is true. We are fast approaching the holiday seasons. I used the word seasons with an “s” purposefully because soon, very soon, the holidays will just be rolling at us. From today’s date, October 20th, it is a mere eleven days until what has become a major holiday for kids of all ages, Halloween. After recovering from those festivities it is only 24 – yes, twenty-four—days until Thanksgiving. And as we all know, once you’ve past Thanksgiving it is only what seems like minutes but which is indeed a month (albeit a 31-day month this year) until Christmas. So while October has been rather balmy, we all need to pay attention to the passage of time and how quickly and sneakily the last holidays of the years are creeping up on us. In the meantime, there are a number of non-Christmas themed books to peruse. Although, I can pretty much guarantee that as we get closer to that holiday, more books will appear with that theme. Oh, and did I mention daylight savings time will soon be leaving us? Well it will. This will give you longer evenings in which to read. Enjoy!
Here we are in October and October is just chocked full of special celebration days and weeks. Here is a sampling of a few for only the first half of the month. The first week of October, which we are in, is National Chili Week, Get Organized Week, Customer Service Week, and Mystery Series Week. October 5th was National Apple Betty Day. Today, October 6th, is National Noodle Day and Mad Hatter Day. Mad Hatter is a day to wear a crazy hat and is celebrated on 10/6 because that is what the sign in the hat band of the Mad Hatter (of “Alice in Wonderland” fame) says on it. Noodle day is rather self-explanatory, i.e., eat some noodles! Tomorrow is World Smile Day. Leif Eriksen Day is on the 9th and National Angel Food Cake Day is on the 10th. The 11th is the birthday of a local librarian. October 12th is both Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day as well as Moment of Frustration Day. Personally, I think taking your teddy bear to work would help you not have moment of frustration on October 12th, but I suppose that depends on what kind of mood your teddy bear is in. If you doubt this assertion then just hang around for October 13th which is International Skeptics Day (I doubt that). Getting to the mid-point of the month, we find that October 15th is not only National Grouch Day, Sweetest Day, and National I Love Lucy Day. There is certainly a lot to celebrate in October. Below you will find some of the new books that have arrived at the library during this week. Something else to celebrate! Enjoy!
We are nearly at the end of September – and of National Library Card Sign-up Month. So if you still don’t have a library card (although one does wonder why you would be reading this column) you have one day to do so in the officially designated month. At this point in this last week of September we are about five-sevenths of the way through Banned Book Week as well. Many books which many of you no doubt consider literary classics have been banned over the years or if not banned outright, at least their inclusion in a library’s collection has been challenged. We have a new area in the library dubbed, “Studio 203” on the east side of the building on the Market Street side. There, you can look at some of the titles which have made the most-often-banned lists, and get a flavor for how we anticipate using this space in the future. We just launched a crowd funding mini-campaign to equip this area. Details are online at our website or stop by for more details. Below are some of the new books which have appeared over the past week at our library – none of which have made any lists other than the best-seller list (at least at this time). Enjoy!
Today is the autumnal equinox. This is the day that the sun is directly overhead on the equator. In autumn the sun continues to “move” south and in spring it moves north. This is one of the two times a year when day and night are approximately the same length, at least near the equator. For those of us residing in the Northern Hemisphere it marks the official start of autumn. For those in the southern hemisphere it marks the start of spring. Today the official sunrise is 5:45 a.m. and sunset is 17:54 (using a 24-hour clock because it makes doing the math so much simpler.); as you can see, the day is 12 hours and 9 minutes long which is not quite an equal division between day and night. We have to wait until the 25th of September to get our sunrise and sunset to equal 12 hours, but no need to be a stickler about 9 minutes. We can say good bye to summer and hello to fall with the rest of the plant on the 22nd and hold our own equinox celebration a few days later. Fewer hours of daylight mean less time spent outside which could mean more time to read. If you are taking advantage of this more-time-to-read time, you will find a number of new books listed below. Enjoy!
If you came to the library yesterday, you found the library was closed. If you came to the library before 1 p.m. today, Thursday, September 8th, you also found that the library was closed. If you happened to peek in the doors -- possibly because you couldn’t believe your good, old, reliable, library would be closed in the middle of the week with no blizzards to account for it—you might have seen three lifts working around the circulation desk. These lifts are necessary to change the light bulbs in the canister lights that hang from the 42 foot ceiling and to reach the uplights that run from west to east (or east to west depending on which way you’re facing I suppose). Those lights illuminate the wood ceiling. A few of those uplights can be reached with a stepladder and someone who isn’t afraid of heights, but once you get over to the mezzanine, you sort of need a lift. And then there are the ballasts some of which need to be replaced and are conveniently locate above the north and south stacks. But LED technology has come to the rescue. It doesn’t need ballasts, bulbs now exist that can replace our old ones, and those bulbs last a long time. We hope we won’t have to close the library again for at least a decade to relamp the place. “Winter is coming” – to quote the Stark family motto from “Game of and Thrones” and with it darker days. We thought it was better to light a candle than curse the darkness, and so we were closed. But books continue to arrive and below you will find some of the newest titles. Enjoy!
Today is the first day of school, so I guess we can say summer is officially over. It’s time to put away all your white and pastel clothes and white shoes and start rearranging your closet. It’s time to move those sweaters closer to the front of the closet and replace that windbreaker with something a little heavier. Sure well have some hot days for the next month or so; in fact it’s almost guaranteed that the first full week of school (post Labor Day) will be a scorcher or if not that week, the next. My crop plants, and now I come to think about it all I have are crop plants, are finishing up at a gallop. I have had no green beans all summer and suddenly I’m eating them every other day. The tomatoes are jumping of the plants, walking in the house, jumping onto the counter, and waiting to be dealt with. The green peppers are dropping off the plants demanding that I pay attention to them too. Of course this is all part of the seasonal change – which, I remind myself when the humidity is 100% and the temperatures in the inching up towards 90, is why I live in Wisconsin. If you’ve been out in the surrounding rural areas lately you will have noted birds flocking up which they do in preparation for migrating a couple of months from now (but they need practice getting along with each other – as do we all). You will have seen the soybeans turning yellow, the hay being cropped off, and some corn being chopped for silage. All are indicators that the growing season is end and that fall will soon be upon us. In the meantime the shorter days give us longer evenings in which to do some serious reading. Below are some new books that recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!
The Summer Library Program is done. The final chance to make purchases or donations with the dragon dollars earned during the summer has past and all that’s left to do is tally up all the numbers. And there are many numbers, which I shall attempt to relate to you next week if all the counting is done. In the meantime library staff is already starting to plan for the Winter Reading Program, because, you know “Winter is Coming”! There really are signs that winter is coming. Okay. Maybe not winter yet, but fall is starting to creep up on us. The days are noticeably shorter both in the morning and the evening which means I’m starting to catch up on my sleep. When the evenings are long and filled with light it’s so easy to keep puttering around or reading. In the wee hours of the morning when the days are at their longest my feline companions are taping me on the head before 4 o’clock in the morning because it is getting light and all the crepuscular animals that cats in the wild prey on are stirring and my apex predators feel that we should all get up and going lest the early bird get away. Speaking of birds, have you noticed that the dawn chorus has stopped – well almost stopped there is an insane cardinal in my neighborhood that never quits--? That’s because there’s not enough time to raise, fledge, and train another nest full of baby birds. And if there’s no time for this there’s no point in singing the mating songs. Birds are also beginning to flock up in preparation of migration. They are practicing flying in formation and getting along with each other – something they weren’t doing when the breeding season was upon them. There’s still plenty of summer left and plenty of hot weather to come, but we have, ever so gently, started to make that turn towards the seasonal shift. There are some new books listed below to help you enjoy on your vacation or time at the beach or time just sitting outside. Enjoy!
Since we are already in August that means that the Summer Library Program has ended. This year, as in previous years, the grand finale of the summer’s program was the Harry Potter Birthday Party. Since that party is yet to be at this writing, I can only assume it will have a big turn out and everyone shall have enjoyed eating cake and pretzel wands and participating in the many crafts and contests. July 31st was not only the day of Harry Potter’s Birthday party, it was also the day the script for the J.K. Rowling play that is running in London currently, was released as a book entitled “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”. The book has sold 4.5 million copies as noon on the 31st. I would have to admit that I had it delivered to my Kindle as an E-book and it was there waiting for me when I got up at 4:30 this morning. I’ve only read the 1st act because I had to help set up for the big birthday party. Hope you were able to attend and had a good time. The prize store will be closing down at the end of this week. Closing time on Saturday, August 6th is your last chance to spend your dragon dollars. There will also be an end of Summer Reading Party the morning of the 6th. If you have your name on the hold list for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” there are a whole slew of other books for you to choose from. Cast your eyes down the page and enjoy!
There are only two days before the Harry Party Birthday Party on July 31st. This is the thirteenth year that this library has been celebrating that special, literary birthday. In 2003, the first year of the library’s celebration, the J.K. Rowling book, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” was published on June 21st. It was book five in the series that was already a literary phenomenon. Five million books were sold during the first 24 hours after the book was published. That book series has come to an end as have the movies based upon that series. But new materials continue to be written by J.K. Rowling about the wizarding world and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” also pseudonymously written by J.K. is soon to be released as a movie. Harry Potter continues to entertain new generations of readers and delight older generations of readers who keep re-reading the series. So come and join the celebration. There will be cake and “pumpkin juice” (an old family recipe) and “butter beer”. There will be a costume party, a “slug” eating contest, trivia quizzes, a craft or two to do and lots of other people who love the Harry Potter books and movies almost as much as you do. Stop by on Sunday, July 31st, from between 1:30 to 4 p.m. While you’re counting the minutes until the party, why not check out one of these new books at the library? Enjoy!
Today has a number of rather arcane National celebrations associated with it. July 21st is not only “National Junk Food Day” it is also “National Creme Brulee Day”, which, in my humble opinion do not belong on the same date. In the Venn diagram where junk food intersects with the marvelously subtle and creamy texture of a good creme brulee topped with that crackling bit of caramelized sugar there is absolutely no overlap. It is also “National Get Out of the Dog House Day” so if perchance you were to suggest that there could be a point of intersection of creme brulee with junk food, this would be the day to do it -- so you could get out of the dog house you’d just walked yourself into. July 21st also occurs during Hemingway Look Alike Days at Sloppy Joe’s in Key West, Florida. I’m pretty sure when I was growing up in Oak Park, Il -- which is where Ernest Hemingway was born-- rumor had it that young Ernest was found of a nice creme brulee. Tomorrow is Pi Approximation Day, or Casual Pi Day. It is observed on July 22nd because the fraction 22/7 is the common approximation of Pi and using the day/month format that’s what the twenty-second day of July is. July 21st is only ten days away from our annual Harry Potter birthday bash. That’s July 31st at 1:30. Dust off your wizarding costumes and wands and come join the fun. There will be a costume contest, a slug eating contest, activities, and cake. While you’re counting the minutes to the Harry Potter birthday party, there are a number of new books listed below for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!
You all know what day it is today. Just look at the date. That’s a clue. It’s Le quatorze juillet – the 14th of July. It is La fête nationale in France. It is, in fact, Bastille Day. This French National Day commemorates the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 which was an important, iconic, event in the revolution that had begun two days earlier. The following year, the Fête de la Fédération was held which celebrated the unity of the French people. It commemorated the peace and unity that occurred in 1790 for the French people. If you have red, white, and blue decorations left from the 4th, you could use them along with a nice baguette or croissant and a bottle of French wine or French press coffee to celebrate while chanting “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”. By the way, tomorrow is St. Swithin’s Day. St. Swithin was possibly, the Saxon bishop of Winchester and died in 862. He is best known for the weather lore that accompanies his feast day, which is July 15. English lore uses this rhyme for predicting the weather: “St. Swithin’s Day if thou dost rain / For forty days it will remain/ St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair/ For forty days ‘twill rain nae mair.” So keep your eyes peeled tomorrow for the long-range weather forecast. Forty days will get us to the end of August. While you’re waiting for the weather forecast, check out some of the new books that have been arriving lately. Enjoy!
July 7th was an interesting date throughout history. In 1456 Joan of Arc was acquitted of heresy at a retrial, 25 years after her death. In 1550, July 7th is the traditional date for the introduction of chocolate to Europe. The first comic book, “The Wasp”, was published in 1802 and Sir Walter Scott’s, “Waverly was published in 1814. In 1862, the Land Grant Act endowed state colleges with federal lands. In 1863, the first military draft was instituted. In 1928, sliced bread was sold for the first time by the Chillicothe Baking Company, Missouri. It was described as the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped. President Eisenhower signed a bill making Alaska a state. In 1965, Otis Redding released “Respect”, in 1967 The Beatles released “All You Need is Love” while The Doors topped the charts with “Light My Fire”. 2011 "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2", the last Harry Potter film, premieres in London. And speaking of Harry Potter, it is only twenty-three days until the library hosts his annual birthday party. We have been celebrating Harry’s birthday since the second year we were in this building – I’ll let you do the math and figure out how many parties we already had. It’s lots of fun, so plan on attending. You don’t need to bring a birthday present; your presence is gift enough. While you are counting down the days, hours, and minutes until the party, there are some new books listed below to help you while away the time. Enjoy!
We are almost out of the month of June and we all know what that means. It means we are creeping up very quickly on the 4th of July. Not only are we creeping up, we are within pouncing distance. In fact, this is, for all extents and purposes, the 4th of July column because the next one will be after the fact. So, a couple of things you should remember about the 4th of July. The library will be closed that day even though you may see library staff scurrying around outside the library whilst preparing the library’s entry in the parade. We called it a float for a number of years, but that involved more magical thinking than any of can muster nowadays. Our entry will include library staff members and friends and family members walking along distributing candy. One of the other things you should remember is that the library people will be in the parade and this is a chance for us to get a sense of how many youngsters who may be entering our pre-school story hours and lap sit program in the fall. It is also a chance for you to see us. We appreciate your enthusiastic appreciation of us as our part of the parade passes by. Read harder and yell louder! Also remember that July 4th celebrates the birth of this nation and that independence was the first step towards a Constitution and Bill of Rights which, to some extent, lead to the notion that an informed population was necessary for this grand adventure in government to succeed. Public libraries evolved out of some of some of those ideas and are as American as apple pie. Have a great 4th of July and check out some of the books listed below: They would make perfect reading while you are waiting for the fireworks to start. Enjoy!
We all know that June is Dairy Month, but did you know that it is also Country Cooking Month, Candy Month, Camping Month, Great Outdoors Month, Iced Tea Month, and Soul Food Month. There are a whole bunch of special days this upcoming week – many of which are doubled or tripled up. For instance, today is Let It Go Day, Public Service Day, and Pink Day. Tomorrow is Take Your Dog to Work Day and Pralines Day. Saturday, is Strawberry Parfait Day, Catfish Day, and Global Beatles Day. Sunday is Canoe Day, Log Cabin Day, and Chocolate Pudding Day. We have already rolled past some major June special days such as the summer solstice on the 20th, and Father’s Day and Juneteenth on the 19th. On June, 27th, Seven Sleepers’ Day is celebrated in Germany. The Seven Sleepers referred to are from a medieval legend about the 7 sleepers of Ephesus.There is traditional weather lore associated with the day. The weather on the day is supposed to determine the average weather conditions for the following seven weeks. So pay attention to the weather on Monday, the 27th. While you are celebrating whichever of the special days that strikes your fancy, you can enjoy reading some of the new books that arrived at the library this week. Enjoy!
If you read this on June 16th, there are only three full days until the summer solstice on Monday, June 20th at 5:34 p.m. Sunrise is at 5:18 and sunset is at 8:41. This is the longest day of the year and the time when the sun is at its northernmost point in our sky. From this point on the days start getting shorter. It seems like summer just got here, which it technically just did since the summer solstice is the meteorological start of summer. But even as the trees that are slow starters in leafing out and in flowering (such as the lilac trees that are reaching their blooming peak), the birds who were early starters have already fledged their first crop of youngsters. Young geese are starting to take to the air and practice flying. Oats and wheat look like they’re in the dough stage and ready for cropping and first crop hay was cut a few weeks ago. If you planted vegetables you have undoubtedly noted that they are growing by leaps and bound. The two almost- ninety-degree days we’ve already and the rain that has been arriving at a nicely spaced schedule have made it a great growing season so far. While summer gallops on a pace and seems to already be slipping through our hands, there still many weeks left in the library’s summer program. You have from now until the 31st of July – which would be Harry Potter’s Birthday Party as well – to read book and earn dragon dollars to enter into weekly drawings for really cool prizes, donate to charities (DeForest Area Needs Network, the library’s endowment fund, or the Dane County Humane Society), or purchase something (also really cool stuff) in our store. The books below are a sample of all the wonderful reading possibilities that are available at your library. Enjoy!
This week in June was an exciting week for inventions, trademarks, and patents. Did you know that in 1887 the Coca Cola label was registered as a trademark by J.S. Pemberton? The next day, in 1946 the “Eensie Weensie Spider” was copyrighted by Yola De Meglio – and you thought this perennial favorite of children had just always been around. That same day, June 7th, 1953 saw the first color network telecast. June 8th saw the first patent for a carpet sweeping machine. This day, in 1953, John Kraft was granted a patent for the manufacture of soft surface cured cheese – which would be like Brie and Camembert, not the cheese slice that is the foundation of millions of grilled cheese sandwiches annually. On June 10th in 1902 a patent for “window envelopes” was granted. Leaping ahead, Good and Plenty candy—a brightly colored, candy-coated licorice candy – was registered for trademark. This week at the library is not nearly as exciting. This week, on Tuesday, school is finished for the summer so the summer library program will be ramping up to accommodate more readers. We do have a number of new books – all of which are protected by copyright law (just making a rather pathetic attempt to tie the upcoming list of new books to the theme of this paragraph established in the first sentence). Come to the library. Join the Summer Library Program. Read books. Earn Dragon Dollars which can be converted into prizes or to donations to the DeForest Area Needs Network, the Dane County Humane Society, or the DeForest Area Public Library Endowment. Enjoy!
Last week you might have noticed that there was nothing in the newspaper written by yours truly. I have a most excellent excuse. I was on a cruise ship in Flam of Norway which is at the inner end of the Aurlandsfjord which is a branch of Sognefjord (the largest/longest fjord in Norway and the 2nd largest/longest in the world). Now with cloud based computing and internet access I was prepared, gentle reader, to send off a column from 6,000 miles, more or less, to DeForest. But, alas! Technology failed me. I was supposed to have wi-fi internet access; however, no one thought to explain to the fjords that their very tall and rocky nature interferes with satellite internet or at least it interfered with the internet being provided on shipboard. The ship’s internet was intermittent and dropped in the middle of things and ate up the allocated minutes very rapidly with little effect. Norwegians who lived in the towns and villages visited by the ship somehow managed to have access to data and wi-fi. I know this because when I was in Flam, my phone connected very well to the wi-fi provided by the tourist information center. Alack and alas! I didn’t have enough time on shore to write a library column on my phone. The day I left for the start of my trip there was a freeze and frost on the rooftops. The day I came back, it was 86 degrees and muggy. In ten short days summer apparently pounced upon us. And here we are at the start of the Summer Library Program and the beach books and summer vacation titles are also starting to arrive. Below you will find a sampling of some of them. Enjoy!
It seems to me the months of May and April have been reversed this year. April showers are supposed to bring May flowers and admitted, there are flowers and it is May, but this past week has been May showers bringing May flowers. And what, pray tell, is with the freeze warnings? I mean, really. Aren’t freeze warnings more apropos to April? Shouldn’t we be able to have some plants – admittedly of a hardier variety—outside and not have to keep dragging them inside every few days when the temperatures decide to dip into the frost zone? Frost is one thing. I can live with frost in mid-May. Frost is harmful only to the most delicate of flowers, but a freeze warning? That’s serious business. But I’m sure, by next week we’ll have high temperatures near 80 degrees and high humidity and be waxing nostalgic for those cooler days of only a week ago. In the meantime, there are a number of new books described below that you might find of interest. These are by no means the only books that have been added to the library’s collection recently. This is a mere sampling. Why not stop by and check out (meaning to see what we might have) the new books at the library and if you see anything you like, you can check out (meaning to borrow from the library using your library card) those books too. Enjoy!
It seems as if spring has finally arrived. All the ornamental trees are in bloom so the landscape is dotted with white and pink and fuchsia as well as with the lacy greens of most trees, the yellow of willows, and the deep burgundies of sugar maples. It is a feast for the eyes after a long winter of dull browns, grays, and whites. The flowers as fluorescing everywhere, whether it be the yellow of daffodils or the more delicate white of jonquils, the reds, yellows, purples and various combinations of tulips and pansies, or the fragrant floral stalks of lilacs. The world is suddenly bursting with color and with bird song. The house finches, sparrows, cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, robins, crows, killdeer, geese, and – well you pretty much name a common bird species (which reminds me – the common grackle) and they have not only got nests under construction and mates chosen, but many are already rearing their young. While the great outdoors is coming alive, there are still many good reasons to come inside and visit your local public library. The spring book titles are arriving daily. If you need information about growing plants or putting in a garden, we’ve got books on those topics. If you are thinking of putting on a deck, creating a pond or other water feature, or building some play equipment for your children or grandchildren, we can help. Below you will find some of the latest spring arrivals from the publishers. Enjoy!
A couple of weeks ago, upon my return from attending a conference which had me driving through the sandhill crane migration in Kearney, Nebraska in April (my wont is to do at the end of February as you may or may not recall), I opined that I would have one more sandhill-crane based digression at the top of the books in this column before this part of the annual crane cycle turns to sitting on eggs and rearing young which pretty much makes cranes invisible for a few months. This last digression is based on the annual Midwest Crane Count which was April 16th this year from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. I patrol three sites in Columbia County; the same sites I have been visiting for over twenty years. I use the same technique every year so the inter-rater reliability is extremely high. I drive. I stop. I listen. I get out of the car and look around. I drive some more. I stop and listen. I take detailed field notes which I later transcribe into the official forms. There is something about being up and about and participating in an important scientific undertaking in the pre-dawn hours which can’t help but make you feel virtuous. I drove north on Highway 51 at 5:15 in the morning just as first light was creeping above the horizon. It was a clear sky and the colors of the dawn came slowly and inexorably. Starting with the faintest pastels of blue which were followed by pinks and oranges and then suddenly enough light arrived to see a crane in. The cranes were very noisy this year and I heard pairs unison calling on all three of the sites. I also saw a number of cranes feeding and loafing and just being cranes. There were turkeys everywhere. Toms were fanning and chasing groups of females who were playing hard to get. I saw a pair of wood ducks in a tree. The pair was about 20 feet up in a hardwood tree leaping from branch to branch. I guess that’s why they call them wood ducks – because they hang out in trees. There were deer everywhere too, but once daylight was advanced – say by 6:15 they all went down for their naps. Besides counting about 25 cranes this year, I saw a turkey vulture come in for a landing on the roofline of a decrepit barn. The way it was acting made me suspect that there might be a nest in the loft of that barn based on a webcam I had followed a couple of years ago from Missouri where this was indeed the case. Here is the URL for that website in case you’re interested in watching http://www.ustream.tv/missouriturkeyvultures . All-in-all it was a wonderful morning filled with birdsong and sunshine. The recent weather has been much more conducive to reading what with the wind, rain, and clouds. Below are some new books which just arrived at the library. Enjoy!
Today, April 28th is a day that is celebrated by four – count them four – special days. Today is “International Astronomy Day” which is a day to look up to the stars. It was established to promote astronomy to the general public. Astronomy clubs and groups use this day to help teach the people about the stars, and other celestial bodies in the universe. Today is also “Great Poetry Reading Day” a day that was established to honor all the great poetry out there and to encourage people to read it out loud. Today is also “Kiss Your Mate Day” – no one knows how or when this special day came about but, after all, why not? And finally today is “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” – which is always the fourth Thursday of April. In 1993 by the Ms. Foundation for Women initiated this special day. The intention was to give girls additional direct attention and insight into the work world opportunities available to them. There is probably a way to combine all of these special day celebrations into one event; such as taking your mate under the stars at night, recite some great poetry, and smooch all of this would of course occur after taking your daughter to work and returning home in the evening so you could actually see the stars. However you care to celebrate this ultrapenultimate day in April, reading a good book is always an option. Below you will find a number of new titles that arrived at the library this week. Enjoy!
Last week I thought I would have my final sandhill crane column for the spring part of the year today. However, due to an unforeseen deadline, at this writing that annual Midwest Crane Count is yet to occur. So let me tell you instead – now that it’s spring and the Winter Reading Program is but a distant memory—about the how many “Dragon Dollars” were given to charities during the course of the program. Remember, participants in the program receive those special dragon dollars for reading books. Those dollars can be used to purchase something in our store, or may be donated to The Dane County Humane Society or the DeForest Area Needs Network. It took a while to tally up the dollars and then I was gone at a library conference, and we tried to arrange photo opportunities and failed, and suddenly we are, oh, about a month and a half down the road from the Winter Reading Program and you still are not aware of the good you have done with your reading. The DeForest Area Needs Network shall receive $136 dragon dollars and the Dane County Humane Society shall receive $277.60 (where did that 60 cents come from anyway?). Checks by Yours Truly shall be handed over to these charities in the near future – hopefully in the presence of a camera—and you shall have visual proof of the good your eleemosynary impulses have done. In the meantime, there are a number of new books which may pique your interest and they are listed below. Enjoy!
I was going to say this will be my last sandhill crane report of this spring migration, but then I looked at the calendar and realized that the Annual Midwest Crane Count is this coming weekend – April 16th – (which I realize with chagrin is my niece’s birthday and I have yet to get a card, let alone mail it. Yikes!) from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. All of which points to the high probability that you may hear about cranes one more time this April. Where I was going with this before I so rudely interrupted myself, was to say that a colleague and I drove out to Denver for the biennial Public Library Association conference during the past week. The route to Denver from here goes through Kearney, Nebraska on I-80. So of course we were on the lookout for cranes. And we saw plenty of them. Here, there, and everywhere is much diminished numbers from the previous trip but they were easy to spot as they littered the cornfields. These cranes were tamer and stayed closer to the edges of the fields. They didn’t spook when cars crept by them slowly with cameras hanging out the windows like the earlier migrants are apt to do. There were 54,000 when we went through on Tuesday. On the way back, we only saw a handful of cranes. The remaining cranes had taken advantage of a strong wind from the south and headed north to their breeding grounds. There was a report of 11 whooping cranes on the Platte River on Thursday night, but they too had left the area by the time we headed back home. Thus ends by penultimate crane report. Below you will find a selection of the new books that are at the library. Enjoy!
It’s April already and – at this writing—we’ve had high wind warnings and snow driving across the landscape in near blizzard conditions. Of course, this time of year these winter-like outbreaks are short lived. In fact even with the wind blowing the snow around like crazy, not much accumulation is occurring and twenty minutes later, the sun is shining and the skies are blue. I blame this unsettled weather on the fact that the NCAA final four and then championship has crept into April. This has to have confused the weather because I know it confused me. What’s not confusing is all the spring books that have started to appear at the library. Below you will find selection of the new titles available for you to check out this week. Enjoy!
What a difference a week makes this time of year! Last Wednesday into Thursday we had a major winter storm and a week later we are expecting highs in the 60s. Sandhill cranes are back in the area and literally flying over the street where I live and really yakking away – just in case you didn’t notice them overhead. Last Thursday, after the snow let up, the poor robins were standing in the street. I could see a loose flock of maybe a dozen or so, when I looked out my window. They appeared to be wandering aimlessly around Ethun Place, pecking disgustedly at grit or salt. The slant of their tiny little shoulders seemed to ask the question “What gives? “Isn’t spring supposed to have arrived?” And “Where are the worms?” Our Children’s Librarian, Louise, reported seeing forty-five robins near where she lives. These robins too were walking around in the street looking lost and hungry. I opined that perhaps they were all getting salt on their feet so they could get a good grip on the ice-encased branches of the trees. The ice on the trees sure was pretty the next day in the sunlight with the clear blue skies acting as a back drop. All that beauty was gone by noon. It had all melted in a matter of hours, proving “Nothing gold can stay”. Below you will find a selection of the new books at your library. These books, some of which are literary gold I’m sure, can stay—at least for the loan period. Enjoy!
Everyone’s heard the story (and possibly a song) about the swallows returning to Capistrano every spring. This phenomenon has been going on for centuries. Every year the swallows finish their six thousand mile flight to arrive on St. Joseph’s Day (March 19th) to nest and rear young. In Hinckley, Ohio, the buzzards (also known as Turkey Vultures) return every March 15th. The story goes that buzzards first started flocking to Hinckley Township in 1818, after the “Great Hinckley Hunt” brought hundreds of hunters together with a goal of extinguishing carnivorous animals that had been attacking livestock. Turkey vultures were flying over DeForest on March 15th as well. Coincidence? You decide. While I was composing this, starring out the window in deep thought, a great blue heron flew past heading north, northwest. I know we still have a few basketball tournaments to get past before we can declare that the early spring predicted by groundhogs and our own Booky the Badger, has officially arrived – but since we rolled past the vernal equinox on the Sunday the 20th, all the signs are pointing towards spring. The spring titles from the publishers are also popping up like tulips on a sunny day. A few of the newest arrivals are listed below. Enjoy!
I have started moving my plants on and off the porch in an act of faith that spring is truly right around the corner. The plants I am moving are some narcissi that have been with me for more than a few years now and don’t seem inclined to bloom, but are inclined to grow. They had been in a paper bag in my basement until about a month ago when I thought to check on them. They were starting to sprout and send forth greenery so I planted those harbingers of spring. They are about 14 inches tall now and very green and healthy looking but not a flower in sight. The pots of grass my cats enjoy chomping on and then depositing in pathways my bare feet tend to find in the middle of the night also got moved outside to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. My most surprising plant that is now soaking up the ambient sunshine and spotty rains is a sweet red pepper plant. At the end of the growing season last year, when I was shuttling my plants with vegetables still on them inside and out depending on the overnight weather forecast, this one came inside and managed to winter over. The eight peppers on the plant that started out green continued to grow – very slowly—and about Christmas time started to turn red. I have eaten a few of the peppers in salads and there are still 5 nice-sized, red sweet peppers on the plant with one still slightly green. Now that that plant is getting more light, it will be interesting to see if it starts to flower again. I had a science experiment in my kitchen and didn’t even know it! Below you will find some new titles which I hope you find surprisingly enjoyable – like freshly picked, home-grown sweet peppers in March—and not like the equally surprising but a whole lot less enjoyable gifts of grass from cats. Enjoy!
There are robins hanging out on South Street and Main Street now. True, they are still flocked up which means they haven’t started moving in yet and are keeping their options open for a quick retreat. Plants are beginning to think about budding. If you look hard at the maples, they are getting lacier and the willows are getting yellower by the day. This coming Sunday, March 13th, Daylight Savings Time starts up again so the days will lengthen once more into the evenings and leave mornings a little darker for the time being. Perhaps that will keep the cardinal quiet who has started singing in the wee hours of morning. “Early singers, look like winners” or some such slogan in cardinal lore about attracting females must be inspiring him to start at the faintest crack of dawn. With temperatures forecast to be in the 50s and 40s for the next ten days, I think we have to give a tip of the hat to Booky our prognosticating badger who seems to have made the early spring call right this year. (That’s two correct calls in a row, so Booky is batting a 1000 at this point!). While your beginning to enjoy the wonders of spring after a Wisconsin winter, why not use warmer weather and longer evenings to stroll down to the library and come to a program or check out some of the exciting new titles that have arrived this week? Enjoy!
I have had a confirmed “hearing” (not a sighting) of a red-winged black bird in the area. For me that means spring has (almost) officially arrived. This past weekend I drove out to Kearney, Nebraska for my annual pilgrimage to see the sandhill crane migration. A couple of days before I left, using aerial survey, the number of cranes estimated to be in the area was 80,000. We drove out I-80 for about 10 hours (strictly observing the speed limit) and arrived at a place where we always saw cranes and there were none. There were none in the air flying over the Interstate as we drove from Doniphan towards Kearney. We went down to the Rowe Audubon Sanctuary and saw flocks of red-winged black birds, and meadowlarks were leaping up and out of the ditches as the dust from the gravel roads rooster-tailed behind us. No cranes there either. Then suddenly there were cranes. There were cranes everywhere; cranes to the right of us; cranes to the left of us; cranes above us. All were making a huge, joyful sound. All were congregated in a couple of acres, standing almost in ranks that stretched back towards the horizon. It really is hard to describe the sight or the feeling of awe this spectacle inspires. Native Nebraskans and tourists alike were pulling their cars to the side of the road to watch. This is an annual event that has been going on for hundreds of years here and millennia in other places– in fact cranes lived during the late Miocene epoch (between 11.6 million to 5.3 million years ago)so they’ve been having these annual gatherings of families, clans, and tribes for a very long time. This is a sight you should try to see at least once in your life time. I’m an over achiever, so I’ve been doing this annually since the early 1990s. It never gets old, even though it is very ancient. While I was gone, enjoying the balmy, 70-degree weather in Nebraska, spring started to arrive in Wisconsin and so did the spring book titles, some of which you will see listed below. Enjoy!
It seems we are at the time of year when if we get warm(er) days we get clouds and if the skies are clear we have bitter north winds creating nasty wind chills for us. Even so, there is a lot to be grateful for. The days have most definitely gotten longer, in fact since the shortest days of the year when sunset was at 4:22 and sunrise at 7:29, we have gained nearly forty minutes of daylight in the morning (sunrise at 6:41) and an hour and twenty minutes at sunset at 5:41. The birds are singing, the hawks are pairing up and nesting, the squirrels are running around, the crows are mobbing the hawks, and all-in-all there is a lot more activity outside. This mild spell that has temperatures approaching 50 degrees and rain may indicate that the early spring Booky our Badger predicted is arriving on schedule. Or not. While you’re waiting to get outside and start doing yard work that doesn’t involve a snow shovel, there are plenty of new books for you to read. Below is a selection of some of the new titles that arrived during the past week. Enjoy!
It seems like we’re all just holding our collective breaths, waiting for either the next major winter storm advisories and warnings, or for spring to make up its mind and arrive early. There is a small flock of robins hanging out at the west end of South Street. There are still lots of berries on the trees and the bird feeders are full so why would the robins go anywhere else? The red tail hawks in the area have been doing a lot of soaring and engaging in what looks like aerial combat – which it is sometimes if there are three birds involved. What is really going on is courting. Red tails are starting to think about spring, and love, and nest building and should be sitting on eggs by the end of February. Chickadees have started singing their “phoebe” song for the past few weeks. When a songbird start singing, it’s a pretty good indicator that his fancy is beginning to “lightly turn to thoughts of love”. While spring with its promise of longer and warmer days is coming at us, the Winter Reading Program at the library continues on apace. There is still time to convert what you read into dragon dollars which you can spend on yourself or donate to a couple of charities we’ve chosen. Below you will find some interesting new books to move you closer towards spring. Enjoy!
Now we are officially on the other side of Ground Hog’s Day. If the weather forecasts at this writing--which is before the purported winter storm has even made it onto land yet—are in the slightest bit accurate, Tuesday, February 2nd will be a cloudy day. We all know what a cloudy day means. You’ve got it. Yes, it means an early spring. With all the dire predictions of this impending storm filling the airwaves, it’s hard to believe in an early spring. But hang in there! The vernal equinox is only 48 days away and daylight savings is only 41 days away. Be sure to check out our Facebook page and see whether Booky, our prognosticating Badger, thinks it will be an early spring! So far, Booky’s been right 100% of the time – admittedly, the predictions started last year but, still 100% is an excellent track record. While you’re waiting for spring to arrive, whether it is early or late, there are a number of new books to help you pass away the time. Below you will find a sampling. Enjoy!
By the time you read this, Ground Hog’s Day will be just around the corner. Last year, as I’m sure you recall, Booky our badger, made the first prediction in what we assume will be a long and lustrous career. Last year the prediction was for an early spring – and we got an early spring. This year, we are considering seeing if Sun Prairie would care to borrow Booky for their ceremony. True, badgers don’t like to get up at the crack of dawn to make a prediction, but perhaps if the recompense was enticing enough…. At least Booky has never bitten anyone! The approach of Ground Hog’s Day signals that there is only about a month left in the Winter Reading Program. Still plenty of time to earn dragon dollars – converting a pleasurable activity into earning potential. You can buy really cool items in the Treasure Trove, or donate those dragon dollars to our charity jars (Yours Truly will convert those dollars into a donation to either the DeForest Area Needs Network (DANN) or the Dane County Humane Society). If you don’t want to read and earn prizes for yourself or your kin, you can read and do something for charity. And there are plenty of books to be read. Below is a sampling of some of the new books that have arrived at the library recently. Enjoy!
Those of you who are regular readers of this column, know that I am what you might call a “craniac”. I am crazy for sandhill cranes. One of the ways this mania manifests itself is that I try to see cranes every month of the year. So in February, I make my annual pilgrimage to Kearney, Nebraska to see the greatest sandhill crane migration on this continent. Cranes arriving in Wisconsin in March and in recent years have hung around into December. This year I did see –well, I’m pretty sure I saw (almost for sure) flying across Highway M by Governors State Park the second week of January. But, just to make sure I wasn’t seeing what I wanted to see rather than what I was actually seeing, I made a little trip to Wheatfield, Indiana last Saturday with a friend. Last Saturday was just before this latest arctic blast. It was 45 degrees, the sun was shining brightly under cobalt blue skies, and there were cranes everywhere. These Indiana cranes hang out in an area of maybe 10 square miles. Within that area they were lined up and flying here and there, dancing, and calling as if it were spring in Nebraska. It was a reminder that spring isn’t only (pick a number, any number) 45 days away, it is also only miles away heading south. There were loose flocks of robins, and juncos, and red-winged-black birds, and Lapland longspurs, in the fields and ditches. Oh, by the way, did I mention there was no snow cover and the water standing in the ditches was water, not ice? It was a very nice taste of spring. Then I drove back to Wisconsin as the temperatures started their dive to below zero. Below you will find some new titles to help you make it through this cold stretch. Cozy up under a blanket and your fingerless gloves and enjoy some of these books.
I believe in last week’s column I mentioned in passing that January is our coldest month. I also noted that the days are getting noticeably longer. Both of which were true then and continue to be true now. What I failed to mention – also in passing—was that there is little bit of weatherlore; a little slogan as it were, that expresses this succinctly. It is: as the days lengthen, the cold strengthens. We gained 23 minutes at sunset and two more at sunrise. Why at this rate, we’ll be at the vernal equinox in a couple of months! I maintain that this is the best time of the year to curl up with a good book. The evenings are long and dark and don’t have much to lure you outside. There’s a good excuse to have a fire in the fireplace and for cats and dogs to snuggle next to (or on top of) you. Now that the football is down to the playoffs and we are before anything playoff-wise in basketball or hockey. There are fewer distractions to sitting down for a good read. There is also the added incentive of sitting down for a good read and that is that our Winter Reading Program is underway. You – Yes. I mean you. I’m looking at you right now—can earn dragon dollars for the books you read. Those dragon dollars can be used to purchase fabulous prizes in our “store” or can be put in our donation jars for the Dane County Humane Society or the DeForest Area Needs Network. Those dollars will be magically converted into real dollars for those charities. Winter Reading continues to the end of February so there’s plenty of time to get some power reading in. If you cast your eyes further down the page you will see a dozen new books that might inspire you to read or to read harder. Enjoy!
Here we are a full week into January, and have you noticed? The days are getting longer. The earliest sunset we experience here is 4:22 p.m. This occurred on the 8th through the 10th of December. Since then, on the sunset side of the day, we have been gaining time and as of the 7th of January, we have gained 17 minutes – which is noticeable if you leave work at a certain time in the afternoon or if you have a window from which to observe. On the sunrise part of the day, it was later every day until the 19th of December, when sunrise was at 7:29 a.m. It has remained there through January 9th; then we start picking up daylight on both ends of the day. While January is the coldest month of the year, it usually includes some sunny days – which were sorely missing in December. January is the month when, based purely on my own observation, when more diet and exercise books are published than any other month of the year. January also provides the opportunity to dig into some good books. A number of new books have arrived at the library and I’ve only included one diet book. Enjoy!
Today is the last day of the year (if the DeForest Times Tribune publishes on New Year’s Eve). We can check another year off. There will be all sorts of year end retrospectives by all the major media outlets, whether newspapers, magazines, net-based, or television. I won’t do a library-based retrospective for you either. Suffice it to say we had a lot of great programs – some old reliables like the Harry Potter Party and the 4th of July parade – others a bit more daring, such as having a best-selling author here for an event or using the Mindstorm kits and Minecraft to do programming for middle and high school students. It was a big year in publishing with the output of bestselling authors seeming to be an unending and swelling stream (I could say something here about the dearth of good editors, but I won’t. I’ll just let you make an inference about quantity versus quality.). And we look forward to an exciting 2016. There will be some major fundraising events this year to add funds to the library’s endowment and to take advantage of a challenge grant awarded the library by the Madison Community Foundation. We will get a dollar from that challenge grant for every two dollars we fund raise. (BTW if you read this and want to make a donation for this tax year a postmark of December 31st lets you do that). While you’re resting up for the next major holiday (which you would think is Valentine’s Day if you were out shopping today (December 26th), why not kick back and read one of the many new books at your library. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!