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Jan's Column 2018

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Past Columns

February 1, 2018 - Groundhog's Day Eve

You all know what today is, right? Yes. It is the first day of the second month of the year or February 1st, but, more importantly, it is also the eve of Ground Hog’s Day. Punxsutawney, PA has Phil. Sun Prairie has Jimmy. The DeForest Library has a different prognosticator – Booky the Badger. Booky has only been making predictions since 2015 and has been batting a thousand or is two for two (which is the same thing, I believe). Booky will be making a prediction on FaceBook some time tomorrow, February 2nd, after sunrise. Now, it is totally up to you which prediction you choose to believe, if indeed to choose to believe any. We are all looking for a glimmer of hope as the days of winter drag on and on. Sure, we got a wonderful taste of spring at the end of last week when the sun was shining the birds were chirping and it seemed absolutely balmy. But, alas, in January we recognize this as what it is; teasing. A prediction at the beginning of February saying the winter will be ending soon lifts the spirits and a forecast saying it will be winter for at least six more weeks just really confirms what we already know in our hearts to be true. Hope is what Wisconsinites need this time of year. So, believe Phil or Jimmy if you want – they do have more years of prognosticating under their belts (the mind reels imagining a groundhog wearing a belt, but I digress.)—but remember in nature, where badgers and groundhogs both live, badgers literally eat groundhogs for lunch. (Of course Booky is well fed and would never, ever, eat the competition. Booky is the most benevolent of creatures – and extremely well read too.) While waiting for this breaking news, there are many new books that will help you forget about however many days remain in this winter. Enjoy!

January 25, 2018 - Longer Days

This is the fourth Thursday of January, and there are still six more days left in the month. This has been an interesting month. It shall have had five Mondays, five Tuesdays, and five Wednesdays which, in and of itself is a little unusual. We have also had a couple of January thaws – not that I’m objecting, mind you. But, there is still a fair amount of winter yet to come. We started gaining daylight in the morning on January 8th (we have been gaining daylight on the sunset end of the day since December 11th but those minutes have been adding up and gaining momentum recently). Sunset went past 5 p.m. today when it sets at 5:01. The days have gotten noticeably longer—which in January is often not good news. The weather-lore says “As the days lengthen, the cold strengthens” which it did a bit at the beginning of this month. So we’ll have to wait and see. A week from tomorrow is Ground Hog’s Day and then we will get the “official” forecast about the remaining length of winter. In the meantime, when there isn’t a whole lot to do outside (what with the snow cover disappearing and rain and freezing rain in the forecasts), there are plenty of new books to read. Below you will find a sampling of the books that arrived recently. Enjoy!

January 18, 2018 - Reading Program

This is already the third Thursday of the first month of 2018. My how time flies! If you made a New Year’s Resolution to participate in the Library Winter Reading Program and you procrastinate even though you resolved not to; it’s not too late! This winter our reading program, celebrating the Year of the Dog , continues on its merry way (I suppose you could say “dog-trotting”) until March 16th and ends with a big finale on March 17th. Yes, we did manage to book a dog act to perform for us and it will be on St. Patrick’s Day ( I asked if the dogs would be wearing green and if they could possibly do a jig. I didn’t get much of an answer, but we’ll see.) Until then, join the reading program (online or we can help you in person). Read books. Read books about dogs. Take online challenges. Read books. Attend programs about dogs and dog care. Earn Dragon Dollars. Buy prizes with your dragon dollars in the store. Read more books. Donate dragon dollars if you wish to one of three charities or donate dog “stuff” to the Dane County Humane Society at our library (A list of items they are always looking for is available at the library). Read books. Read more books. If you’re looking for something to read. There is a list of new books below. Enjoy!

January 11, 2018 - Crazy for Cranes

This past Saturday, the morning with the coldest recorded low my thermometer has seen this year, I set out with a friend of mine for a quick trip, down and back, to the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Area in Indiana to see if we could locate any sandhill cranes that might still be hanging around in the lower Midwest. Those of you who are long-time readers of this column, know that I am crazy for (sandhill) cranes and also that I try to see them every month of the year. I have been doing this pursuit for the past couple of decades and used to have to go to Indiana in December to get that month’s cranes and then further south to get January’s. But times have changed and the cranes are hanging around Wisconsin into December, and, I am happy to report, are still to be found in Indiana (yet again this year) in January. We drove 231 miles mostly south and a little east and found cranes. They are in a very small area – near the power plant and surrounding fields—but there were lots of them. A couple of clouds of cranes were up and landing on cornfields they had taken the snow off of. In places they were thick on the ground and in other places in family groups. The sun was shining brightly and it was actually hot in the car and 16 degrees and the cranes were dancing and yakking away with the reedy, piping voices of this year’s young joining in. These cranes looked well-adapted to the cold. They looked brawny. Mostly when I think of cranes I think of tall, rather skinny, rather elegant, birds. Birds with a ballet dancers build. The cranes that were hanging out around the power plant were built more like dancers in a musical – say “Newsies” or the gangs in “West Side Story”. They looked stocky, well-fed, and ready to rumble. Even though there was snow on the ground and the temperatures were cold (but warming) to see cranes loafing on cornfields reminds me that spring is not that far away and that if you really need spring (usually) you can drive south to it. Below you will find some of the new books that have arrived this past week which should help you pass the time until spring arrives and

January 4, 2018 - Happy New Year

Happy New Year! Here we are, already on day four of this brand-spanking new year of 2018. If the weather prognosticators are correct, today we may have crawled out of the single-digit deep freeze and be heading towards more normal winter temperatures. If, they are correct. As of today, we have also gained a noticeable amount of daylight on the evening end. You may (or may not) recall that back in the middle of December I marked the passing of the 8th, 9th, and 10th of December as the days with the earliest sunsets at 4:22 p.m. We have been gaining daylight at sunset since then and as of today with a sunset at 4:36, we have gained 14 minutes and are pretty much gaining a minute a day from here on out. While 14 minutes doesn’t sound like all that much, it is noticeable and it does mean we are heading in the right direction if you have already started yearning for spring. Which I for one, have. While we are waiting for spring and longer days and warmer weather, there is a plethora of new titles listed below for you to check out and read and while away the time. I hope this New Year has all sorts of good things in store for you! Enjoy!