Jan's Column 2023

Well. Another year is all-but gone.  We stand here on the 29th of December, the antepenultimate day before the year 2024 begins and can see almost the entire year of 2023 behind us,  and are close enough to the start of 2024 to almost see it if we squint really hard. It’s only three days, 72 hours, 4,320 minutes until we get a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to get it right this time, a new chapter, the dawn of a new day. When you think about it, it’s quite a remarkable thing. Someone had a really good idea about turning this rather mathematical / astronomical event of the year changing, into a celebration. A celebration where we can turn our backs on the past and face that first day of the new year with hope in our hearts about the things we have resolved to do (or not do in the coming year). Isn’t it wonderful that we can look at the past year and say, “I’m so glad it’s over.  Or “It was a wonderful year”. And then we can look ahead to the next year and say, “I hope next year is better.” Or “I hope next year is even better.” We humans are, at times, remarkably optimistic.  When you think about it, looking at the past year and looking forward to the New Year is like reading a book. You finished that last book and you can say “Boy, am I glad that one’s done. It should have ended at page 200, not dragged on for another 400 pages.” Or “Wow! That book was so good I hope it’s a series and the next book is immediately available.”  Then, when you get the book you reserved in the series or you pick out a new book (Based on its cover. Admit it. We all do it.) and you open the book, with hope in your heart and start to read. It’s a new book, a new dawn, another chance, a fresh start, a new beginning, the next chapter!  Below you will find some of the new titles which recently arrived at the library. I hope they inspire hope in your heart and that this New Year is your best one ever.

The library will be closed all day on New Year’s Eve, December 31st, and all day Monday, New Year’s Day, January 1st.

You all know what today is, right? December 22nd, the day after the winter solstice. That’s the magical day when the hours of daylight and night – (I just noticed that parallel construction doesn’t work here. If I use the word “nightlight” that’s has a whole different meaning (that little light that guides you from your bed to that little room the queen goes to by herself or the refrigerator in the kitchen. No judgement here!). Of course the word night connotes “no light” which is what you’ve got if you pair daylight and night. I, however, think I prefer “starlight” although one could argue that you can’t always see the stars even at night.)  But, I digress. Let’s just say that day and night have the exact same number of hours. This means we are heading back towards longer days. In fact, our days started getting longer at the evening end of things on 11th of December. By the end of the year we shall have gained 10 minutes at that end of the day and quit losing daylight in the morning. We’ll stay stuck at a sunrise of 7:29 a.m. until the 9th of January. Then we start gaining light at both ends. Hooray!  Waiting for the light to return has been celebrated in many ways in many countries, for millennia. In the dark of winter we are all looking for something to hang our hope on. More light seems something most of us can agree upon.  In the meantime the long nights are great times to settle in with a good book. Below you will find some of the recently-arrived books at the library. Enjoy! Wishing you merry and bright days!

For the last couple of weeks I have been giving you a countdown to not only the end of the year holidays, but also to the start of the Winter Reading Program.   I have, upon reflection, been rather vague about when the Winter Reading Program actually starts. This vagueness was due to my lack of information about the actual start date. (Why am I always the last to know? I ask the universe. The universe replies “You need to pay closer attention.”). Now that I am paying closer attention, I can say with great authority that the Winder Reading Program kicks off this Saturday! The program kick-off begins with a Winter Campfire party on the Library Patio from noon until 3 p.m. (or while supplies last). Since the program slogan is “Ignite Your Imagination” and our feature animal is dragons ( of all shapes and varieties) we thought an actual fire would be a good place to get imaginations firing. There will be s’mores and hot dogs and hot beverages.  There will be ornament mini-painting during the same timeframe in the room that leads to the patio.  Stop by on Saturday and sign-up for the Winter Reading Program. Read books. Record what you read. Earn “Dragon dollars”. Redeem those dollars in our “store” or donate them to one of my selected charities.  If you need something to read, below are some of the books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

Now the countdowns have begun in earnest. If you are reading this on Friday, the 8th of December, you are less than 24 hours away from Santa’s visit to the library. The large, jolly elf will be visiting the library from 10 until noon on Saturday, December 9th. Plan on attending. You don’t want to get on the naughty list now, do you? Sunday, December 10th, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Solstice Brass will be preforming holiday music from the library mezzanine. Cookies and a hot beverage will be provided by the Friends of the DeForest Area Public Library. The countdown to Christmas passes the 16 day mark on the 8th, so you have a little more than 2 weeks to get it all done. & days after that puts us at New Year’s Eve. For those of you who keep track of hours (and minutes) of daylight, the really great news is that after December 10th is past, we start gaining daylight at the evening end of the day. Sure, we continue to lose time in the morning (actual 10 minutes until the latest sunrise of 7:29 a.m. rolls around on the 30th), but I prefer my daylight at the end of the day. While you’re keeping track of all this days and dates, remember that the Winter Reading Program starts on December 16th.  Below you will find a number of the new books which recently arrived at the library. Check them out! Read them! Record them for the Winter Reading Program! And enjoy!

Well. December already. My how time flies, how quickly the end of the year approaches, and now the countdowns begin in earnest. Saturday, December 2nd is Winterfest. There will be ornament making at the library from 10 a.m. until noon in the Community Room and the Friends of the Library’s pop-up Holiday Books (and More) Sale will also be starting on the 2nd and continue until the end of the year..  On Saturday, December 9th, Santa will be visiting the library beginning at 10 a.m. to noon, Two weeks from the Santa visit puts you at the 23rd of December (Little Christmas Eve to us Scandinavians (and others I am sure)) and once you’re there, well, just snap your fingers and you’re in the new year. Oh, and did I mention that the Winter Reading Program should be getting underway any minute now and last well into next year. Below you will find lots books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

Birding update: On Monday, November 27th, hundreds (possibly thousands) of sandhill cranes were flying high over the library (and other parts of DeForest) as they head south for the winter. The cranes, in their wisdom, have determined that what with the snow and the cold the gleanings in the fields just aren’t readily available anymore so they are moving the party to warmer climes. (Possibly the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Area in northern Indiana. 1000s of cranes stop over to fuel up in the cornfields surrounding the wildlife area.  At last count (11/21) there were over 13,000 cranes hanging out there.)  I know. TMI. Cheers!

This year Thanksgiving fell one day shy of the earliest possible date -- November 22nd—that that holiday can fall on .Falling when it does this year, gives a rather long  (4 weeks and two days) lead up to those Yuletide holidays which means more shopping days. More shopping days, theoretically mean more sales and more profits which move merchants and retailers from operating in the "red" (i.e. debt in accounting terms) to operating in the "black" or the profit side of the ledger, hence the name for the day after Thanksgiving of "Black Friday" -- which is what today is. This is a rather apocryphal explanation that arose in the 1980s for the day’s name.  The first time this term appeared was in Philadelphia when police, purportedly referred to the masses of shoppers clogging the streets and sidewalks as "Black Friday".  This is the first reference to shopping as the source of the term; however in 1951 or thereabouts retailers' trade journals referred to the Friday after Thanksgiving as "black" because so many workers called in sick that day to get a four day weekend. No matter the historic source, today is a day for frenzied shopping either in person or online. If you need a break and a little island of quiet, stop by the library. We are open. Checkout a book and be well-read (note awful pun on the word "red"). Below are some of the new books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

After spending the early part of last Saturday with dinosaurs in many iterations and the people who love all things dinosaurs also in many iterations, I decide to jump forward in geologic ages from the “Age of the Dinosaurs” also known as the Mesozoic Era (which we all know was made up of three successive time periods: the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous) to the Cenozoic Era and the Quaternary period – a mere 2.6 million years ago. I could go there because sandhill cranes have been found in the fossil record from about 2.5 million years ago and other crane-like birds go as far back as 6 million years.  To travel that distance on Saturday merely required a trip out to Goose Pond. Goose Pond right now is a bit of a misnomer. The east side of the road through the “pond” is filled with reeds. The west side is mostly mud with a few puddles scattered here and there. However, the lack of water hasn’t kept the swans from making a stopover to refuel on the tubers they can dig out of the mud. There were maybe 100-150 swans, a handful of Canada geese, ducks quacking away but very hard to spot, and 60 to 75 Sandhill cranes. The cranes were mostly along the “shoreline”, while the swans were everywhere. I am pretty sure there was a pair of Whooping cranes there as well. I am basing this on the vocalizing I heard. It’s hard to tell a swan on mud from a whooper at a distance with not-very-good binoculars. If you have time, those swans are really something to see (as, of course are the cranes).

Enjoy birding and the enjoy some of these great new books which recently arrived at the library!

It seems like only last week when I was mentioning the rather hasty change in the weather from crickets and frogs singing and temperatures in the 60s to freeze warnings and snow. Well, as they say, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait (insert duration here: times can change from a minute to an hour to a day (or more))”. This morning there were robins on the grass, alas (to paraphrase Gertrude Stein). There was a very strong southerly airflow from the south so that when I got up this morning it was already 55 degrees. Right now, according to my phone, it’s 66 degrees. The skies are sunny and we all know this won’t last. This is not a repeat of last week’s column, but I will note two things which I previously mentioned. A number of the titles listed below, once again, have some reference to Christmas in their titles. ‘Tis the season!  Obviously, Christmas sells.    And since we’re talking about Christmas, it is now only 44 days until that winter holiday.  Those were the two things mentioned last week. There was one more thing which is Dino Day which is being planned for the 11th of November from 10-1 p.m.  Delilah, the feathered T-rex, is looking forward to welcoming you to her new home.

There are lots of new books to read (some without Christmas in the title) listed below Enjoy!

It seems like only last week that we were sweltering (in fall you can swelter at temperatures about 20 degrees cooler than you can in the middle of summer) in muggy weather. Air conditioning was running, Crickets were chirping and frogs were singing. Wait! It didn’t just seem like this was happening a week ago. It actually was.  Now, at this writing, there is snow in the forecast (a paltry 7/10ths of an inch, but still possibly measurable) for Halloween. Would that be a trick or a treat? Now that we have survived the two – count them, two—Halloween events last Sunday with hundreds of people attending, library staff is already looking ahead to our next big thing which is Dino Day. It is still on the horizon, but it is in November, and as well we know, we are already into that month. November is the month were the serious count-down to Christmas and New Year’s starts. I won’t mention that it’s only 53 days from the 1st of November to Christmas Eve because I don’t want to create any anxiety about all that needs to be done to get ready for those big end of the year holidays. But speaking of one of those holidays, I will mention that a few of this week’s title include that holiday in their titles.  There are a number of non-Christmas titled fiction books and non-fiction books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

As we approach the end of the month of October, we will at last – if the weather forecasts are correct—be seeing the end of the growing season, with overnight temperatures looking to be in the low 30s. But you have to admit, when the sun was shining last weekend we certainly had some
gorgeous fall days. There were blue skies with wisps of white clouds. And all along my route to work there were trees in a rainbow assortment of colors. Burgundy, scarlet, mahogany, crimson, neon, and fire-engine red. There were greens turning to yellow. And the oranges! Tangerine, apricot, and a neon orange that glowed with the sunlight. What pretty days we’ve had mixed in with the windy, gray, days that provide contrast.

The countdown to the Haunted Library is definitely underway. October 29th is only a day away. I hope you will join us. It should be spooktacular! Below you will note that another countdown—I’m talking about Christmas, here—is also underway. It is 59 days away. I am only mentioning this because some of the titles listed below have definite Christmas themes in their titles. Whether or not you want to rush the yuletide season or not, I’m sure you’ll find a title below to whet for reading appetite. Enjoy!

I am going to say (i.e. type) this while knocking wood. As of this writing (10/16) we have had a couple of nights with light frosts, but nothing that requires covering plants (at least on my porch). If the weather apps are to be believed, and I do believe Weather Kitty because she has been remarkably accurate for lo, these many years), then the next 10 days the lowest overnight lows remain in the high 30s.  Does that seem unusual to you? It does to me.  Usually, by the early part of October, I’ve given up on some of my tomato and pepper plants, and dragged the others indoors to survive as best they can indoors with low light. All my plants are still outside. The best source I can find for average freeze and frost dates for the Madison airport is given in percentages. For instance, by September 30th, 40% of the time we would have had a temperature of 32 degrees and by October17th we would have had a 28% overnight low. 70% of the time by October 31st we would have had an overnight low of 24%.   So with no 32-degree overnight lows predicted to occur by October 30th,that means we’ve really broken the law of averages. Probably more than you wanted to know! The trees and plants seem to be hanging on to their leaves and flowers longer than usual too. It does make for very pretty, crisp fall days. Those shorter days and longer twilights are perfect of snuggling in with a good book. You know that fall is moving on apace when the Christmas mystery titles begin to appear. Below are some of the books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

The publication date for this column is Friday, the 13th. This is the second Friday, the 13th of the year. This day is considered unlucky for many reasons, some rooted in religion. Judas Iscariot was the 13th person at the Last Supper. Then there is a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party in Valhalla. The trickster god Loki, who was not invited, arrived as the 13th guest, and arranged for Höðr to shoot Balder with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. And of course there is the dawn raid on Friday, October 13, 1307, where scores of French Templars were simultaneously arrested by agents of King Philip. All the Order of the Knight’s Templar’s lands were confiscated and those captured were tortured and put to death.  Historically, Friday the 13th isn’t a good day to attend a dinner with 12 other people or to have annoyed a king. Interestingly, a mathematical analysis of 400 years of calendars by Brown (1933), showed that the thirteenth of the month is slightly more likely to be on a Friday than on any other day.  Probably the safest way to spend this unlucky day is in a safe place (possibly at home), staying away from ladders, black cats (unless you share your domicile with one, and even do, you are probably aware that one of their missions in life is to trip you up), and sharp objects. A safe activity is, undoubtedly, sitting still and reading. You might want to venture out, very cautiously, to the library and consider checking out some of these new titles which recently arrived at the library. I would suggest a book with fewer than 300 pages in case you doze off while reading and it falls on you. More than 300 pages might pack a big of a wallop. Safe reading and enjoy! 

These past few weeks, I have put off writing this little top-of-the-column piece until closer to the newspaper deadline so I could update you on the progress of the Story Hour / Children’s Room renovation.  Well, I waited and waited until now I’m well into Monday afternoon. I am sorry to report that there has not been a whole lot. The floor installation has begun, but has yet to be finished. The sink still needs to be installed, but it did get on the truck so installation is now possible. Once the floor and sink are done the final trim will be put in place, and “Bob’s your uncle!”  It should be done. Well, almost. Of course all the marvelous, luxurious, new space in all the new cabinets will need to be filled with all the stuff that was taken out of the old cabinets. And the fish, which are now residing in the Vienna Room will need to be moved to their new home on their own special counter. And then the chairs need to arrive. Then and only then will it be done. I think.  In the meantime, while you’re waiting to view the renovated area, there are many new books arriving at the library weekly, nay one could say, almost daily. Below you will find some of the titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

Ah, fall!  The days are most noticeably getting shorter.  I am a lark by nature (or because I live with cats who march to their own circadian rhythms), so I tend to rise a bit before the sun. Back in June, during our longest days, sunrise was at 5:18 although light was flooding the skies long before the sun popped over the horizon. These days we’re looking at sunrise around 6:45. On the other end evening wasn’t falling until nearly 9 p.m. Now sunset is at 7:02 p.m. That’s a lot of daylight to lose. The nights are getting cooler which makes for great sleeping weather. And some precocious trees are already strutting their stuff and showing off their splendid colors. The crickets (the fall variety that predict the coming of the first frost) started singing on or about August 28th. That means – according to weather lore, that we were six weeks from the first frost. If I’m counting correctly, that would be about October 2nd. One final indicator that fall is rapidly arriving is the influx of new books. The   book titles from the fall publishing lists have started to arrive. And what excellent time. With fewer daylight hours to spend outdoors, it’s the perfect time to curl up with a good book. Below you will find some of the titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

Renovation update: The cabinets arrived today (Monday) and are being installed even as I type. The room already looks more spacious and welcoming.  Flooring will go in after the cabinetry is installed. Suddenly things are moving very quickly! Stop by and take a peek.

The publication date of this column, which I assume shall be Friday, September 15th, is the eve of the Fall Harvest Celebration.  That celebration takes place on Saturday, September 16th from 10 – noon. There will be a special storytime, crafts for all ages, a farm animal petting zoo, games, treats, and lots of fun. Stop by and join us to celebrate the season. 

As you may have noticed, the space formerly known as the Story hour room, is undergoing a major renovation.  As of this writing, all the cabinetry has been removed, the walls have been re-textured and painted, the new flooring has been loaded into the room awaiting installation, and the old flooring was just removed on Monday. The electrician has been in and moved outlets. The plumber has been in and has made plans for putting in a new sink. The new cabinets and counter tops have been ordered. The flooring should be completed this week. Next Monday, the cabinets will be loaded into the room and their installation will begin. If you peek in the Story Hour room you may notice these changes. It is hoped that this project will be completed by the beginning of October. Soon after that, there will undoubtedly be a grand opening.  While you are waiting for this happy event, why not read a book?
Below are some of the books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

The last holiday of summer has past, as did the last event of the Summer Reading Program. We had a really nice celebration for all the Summer Reading Program participants on August 30th. Many hot dogs were eaten, many cones of cotton candy were consumed (Thanks to the Boy Scouts Troop 155 for not only loan us their cotton candy machine but for running the machine and dispensing that sweet treat.), many bags of popcorn were popped (I know because I was in charge of popping) and distributed. It was a lovely night and rather breezy. “How breezy was it?” I hear you ask. Well, it was so breezy that when one went to sprinkle popcorn salt your bag of popcorn, the salt (a very fine and powdery salt made just for popcorn) missed the bag by about 8 inches. Tiny tufts of cotton candy were also wafting in a southerly direction on the breeze coming out of the north. And the bubbles went pretty much what ever direction they wanted to. A great time was had by all, especially by the students who got to slime their school principals, school librarians, and our Children’s and teen librarians.

But now that that season has passed, we are already well into September, which as I’m sure you all know is “National Library Card Sign Up Month”.  If you don’t have a card, stop by the library and get one. If your child or grandchild doesn’t have a library card, consider getting them one. And of course, if you do have a card, then please use it!  Below are some of the new books which recently arrived at the library. You can use you library card to check them out or to put them on hold. Enjoy!

Last week I gave you all the numbers from the 2023 Summer Reading Program. I did all the math that I usually do at the end of the reading program and plotted the number of miles all the pages read, laid end-to-end, would reach laid on a map (Somewhere near Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and north of Duluth, if memory serves). And opined that after the Summer Reading Celebration on August 30th (which we are now past) that we would be finally and truly done with this year’s Summer Reading Program. But I forgot.  Not only do we count the pages read and report those. We also count the number of “Dragon Dollars” donated to this reading program’s charities and I get to whine a bit about my eleemosynary impulse to agree to convert those “Dragon Dollars” to United States dollars and write checks to each of the charities. Readers earned and donated $230 to the DeForest Area Needs Network (D.A.N.N.) and $705 to the Dane County Humane Society.  Far and away the leading charity for our readers this summer was the renovation of the Children’s Story Hour room.  That project got a whopping $1,503.  I will be making those donations in the not-too-distant future as my cash flow permits (consider this me whining about how many readers wish to donate to local charities!). And now I will encourage you to keep reading so that once the Winter Reading Program rolls around you will be in great shape to read even more books.  Below you will find some of the books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

The Summer Reading Program has ended. All that’s left is a big party on August 30th, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (you are all invited, by the way). This year 692 people signed up and 542 read, earned a badge, and /or attended an event. Those participants read 28,193 books, took part in 3,938 activities, wrote 184 reviews, earned 9,764 badges, and attended 396 events. Whew! That’s a whole lot of reading and a whole lot of activity. 

Every year, for more years than I care to remember, I have been reporting the number of pages read in concrete terms.  I have converted the number of pages read (or pages listened to, or time spent reading) into inches, then converted those inches into miles, and then plotted that number of miles on a map.  Since I have been doing this annually for enough years for this to have become a tradition, and since I’m wise enough not to tamper with a fine tradition, here goes!

Those 28,193 books read by those 542 people convert to 2,170,657 pages.  That’s just over 4000 pages read by every participant!

Now, on to the calculations which begin with this question: “If you laid all the pages of the books that were read end-to-end how many miles would they stretch?”  The average size of a page is 9 inches tall which gives us (2,170,657 times 9” or) 19,535,913 inches (always show your work if you want to receive full credit). Then we take those inches and divide by 12 to give us 1,627,993 feet and then divide by 5,280 to give us 308.33 miles. So 316 miles east of DeForest puts you somewhere in Detroit, MI. You’d be about 10 miles south of Indianapolis. You’d be 14 miles outside of St. Louis near the Gateway Arch. And if you headed northwest you’d be somewhere north of Duluth, MN – possibly in the boundary waters. No matter how you look at it, that’s a lot of pages read. If you want to add to your own personal total, below you will find some of the new books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

The Summer Reading came to an end last Saturday. You can continue to spend your Dragon Dollars in our story through August 13th.  This is not, however, quite the end of the Summer Reading Program. On Wednesday, August 30th there will be a big party, celebrating the hundreds of books, the tens of thousands of pages read, the badges earned, and the challenge accepted and achieved.  Details are still being finalized. I can safely say that the celebration will include music, food, and lots and lots of fun.  The number of new books arriving at the library continues at a steady pace, but there is a noticeably shift away from “beach” reads toward the fall publishers’ list of big, best-selling authors. There is a noticeable shift towards the beginning of fall weather-wise. The days are beginning to cool down slightly. The dawn is arriving later and later each day and the dawn chorus is thinning out. Cardinals continue to greet the dawn and now and then a chickadee, but the robins are becoming quieter as are the finches.  It won’t be long before the birds start thinking about migrating. And the back-to-school sales have already started (or at least the advertising).  While there still are a few lazy days of summer left, check out some of the new books at library and enjoy!

Well, times has continued on apace and suddenly we find ourselves in August. Library staff has once again put on a stunning Harry Potter Birthday Party. The weather cooperated, the bees and wasps mostly stayed away. The pumpkin juice, butter beer, and cookies were tasty. The very tall dementors were scary. The tea leaf reading by Professor Trelawney once again went well past the end of the party. The professor knew this would happen because sometimes she can see into the future (but mostly because the past is sometimes a good predictor of the future) and predict what will happen.  Many old friends were in attendance as were many new friends. A grand time was had by all. As we roll past the Harry Potter Birthday Party we are accelerating rapidly towards the end of the Summer Reading Program. The last day to enter books is 5:00 pm on August 5, 2023. The last day to redeem and spend Dragon Dollars is at 4:00 pm on August 13, 2023. This means there is still plenty of time -- okay maybe not "plenty" of time, but nonetheless there is still time-- to enter your books, earn Dragon Dollars, and spent then in the library "store".  

Just because the Summer Reading Program is winding down, this doesn't mean that you should quit reading. Many new books continue to arrive, almost daily. Now the potential strike for our primary deliverer of new books has been settled, we in library land can breathe a collective sigh of relief. The supply chain of books remains open. Below you will find some of the new titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

The excitement is in the air. We are only days away from the 21st Annual Harry Potter Birthday Party. It will, of course be on Harry’s actual (can a fictional character have an actual birthday?) birthday, July 31st.  The celebration will start at 10 a.m. and go until noon (or a little be after).  There will be quidditch (kind of) and a garden gnome toss (no gnomes will be harmed, or indeed used), a chance to meet with Professor Trelawney and find out if the “Grim” is in your future, and potion demonstrations. There will be a costume contest, refreshments at the Three Broomsticks including our own, soon-to-be-patented Butter Beer and Pumpkin Juice libations. I’m pretty sure there will be cookies. I’m have it on good authority that there will be a slug-eating contest. There will be a jolly good two-hour’s worth of frivolity and mischief for all ages. And if the Harry Potter Birthday Party is fewer than three days away, can the end of the Summer Reading Program be far behind?  The answer is “no”. The Summer Program ends on August 5th.There is still time to read a couple of books. There is still plenty of time to log the books you have read and the events and activities you have participated. There is still plenty of time to earn “dragon dollars” to spend yourself in our fabulous store, or to donate to one of our charities—including the remodel/ renovation of the Children’s Story Hour Room.

Below are some of the newest books which have arrived at the library. Enjoy!

We are getting down to the wire now. As of the publication date of the DeForest Times Tribune, (Friday, July 21st), there are only two weeks—count them, two—left in the Summer Reading Program. As of this writing we have 492 active readers (although 661 of you registered). For those of you who have yet to record any books, or those of you who wait and enter titles in batches (as do I), there are still 14 days left for you to enter the titles of all the books you have been reading this summer.  You can still earn badges and log events. As of this writing, 220 events have been logged; 6,055 badges have been earned and 2,055 activities have been completed. The most impressive number, is of course, the number of books read. As of this writing, 17,827 books have been read and 148 of you went the one step further and wrote book reviews.  Good job everyone!  As we head into the last two weeks of the Summer Reading Program, remember to read, record, and review what you have been reading.  Below you will find some of the new books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

If you consider summer to be those 99 days between the Memorial Day weekend and the Labor Day weekend, we are suddenly at the midpoint between those two dates. Being at the midpoint means there is still plenty of time to enjoy those lazy, crazy, days of summer.  However, as far as our Summer Reading Program is concerned, we are—unfortunately—much closer to the end, then we are to the beginning. In fact, as of July 14th, there are only 22 days left in the Summer Reading Program which ends on August 5th.  That means there is still plenty of time to read, record, earn dragon dollars, and help achieve the community reading challenge. There are a number of interesting books listed below that might help keep you reading as the final stretch approaches.  As of this writing, it is only 17 days until the 21st Annual Harry Potter Birthday Party on July 31st (his birthday). Please plan on attending. Consider yourself invited!  You’re also invited to the Tuesday evening concerts at the library (on Market Street) at 6:30 p.m. This Tuesday, July 18th, the Mad City Jug Band will be performing. They bill themselves as “America’s Most Adequate Jug Band” and they play favorites (not always with jugs) from the 1920s- the 1960’s. Adequate should be spectacular!  In the meantime, below you will find soe of the new books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

I swung by the library this past Sunday on my way to take care of some chores and I heard crickets chirping in the hostas and flowers planted along the library’s west side. Two things then occurred to me: 1) that I had been hearing crickets for probably the past couple of weeks, and 2) that I hadn’t written my summer-and cricket-weather-lore-almost-annual column yet. In previous years, I had noted my concern about hearing crickets this early because it is well-known weather lore that it is six weeks from hearing crickets chirping to the first frost. I had also noted that a frost  in mid-to late July seemed highly improbable. I had thensome digging around (librarians call this research) and discovered that the weather lore refers (at least in some cases) to fall crickets. What follows is perhaps more than you want to know about crickets (or wanted to know, but were afraid to ask):  Not only are there fall crickets, but there are also spring crickets as well. What I had been hearing were spring crickets. These crickets survive the winter in a juvenile form and as the weather warms, they mature and start chirping. They die off and the fall crickets, who started their post-winter life as eggs, are finally mature and chirping by the end of July or early August. When the fall crickets start singing is when the countdown to the first frost occurs. I’ll keep you posted on those first frost warnings, but for now, there is still a whole lot of summer yet to come. There are still a whole lot of summer books to be read and enjoyed. Below you will find some of the new titles that have arrived recently. Enjoy!

If you blinked on this past Wednesday morning at 9:57 a.m., you missed the summer solstice and the arrival of summer.  The sun rose at 5.18 a.m. and didn’t set until 8:40 p.m. giving us 15 hours 22 minutes and 16 seconds worth of daylight. And of course, it’s all downhill from here.  Why, by the very next day we shall have lost 2 seconds and those seconds add up quickly. By the time Harry Potter’s Birthday Party rolls around, on July 31st (Please mark it on your calendar. It is on Monday, the 31st because that is Harry’s actual birthday (can a fictional character have an actual birthday? A point to ponder, but not now.).) we shall have lost 29 minutes at sunrise and 20 minutes at sunset. There is still a long way to go until the deep, dark, days of December when we bottom out at 8 hours 59 minutes and 44 seconds of daylight. We have lots of lovely, long, leisurely days left to enjoy this summer. Many of those days will include library programs for all ages. Please check out website and Facebook for information about upcoming programs – or sign up for out electronic newsletter and the latest information will land in your email inbox (Scroll down on the library’s website home page. On the right-hand side at the bottom there is a “subscribe” link under “Newsletter Signup”.   We all know that summer time is the perfect time to kick back and read. Below you will find some of the books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

The Summer Reading Program started on May 20th which means it has been up and running for 4 weeks on Saturday,  June 17th.  Already it looks like this will be a Summer Reading Program will surpass last year’s rather impressive numbers. As of the writing of this piece, 556 people have registered for the program; last year the entire program had 809 register. Of those who registered, so far, 345 have logged books compared to the 655 readers last year. 5,146 books have been read compared with the 31,444 total last year. 661 activities have been completed compared to 4,642 logged for the entire summer last year. 2,350 badges have been earned so far when last year 10,709 badges were earned. 71 events have been logged compared to the 357 last year.  Already 66 reviews have been written compared to the 149 reviews last year.  All in all, I would have to say we are off to a stunning start. There are 50 days left until the end of the Summer Reading Program which means there’s still plenty of time for you to contribute to surpassing last year’s rather impressive numbers. Consider checking out some of the books listed below. Read them. Log them. Pump up our numbers! And, enjoy!

The summer beach books, or beach reads are beginning to arrive. It’s almost as if the publishing world knew that we would be experience hot, summer like weather these past week or so. With high temperatures in the upper 80s and low 90s it seems that summer has arrived, even though the 1st day of summer has not. Summer won’t officially (or astronomically) arrive until Wednesday, June 21st at 9:57 a.m.  Thanks to the publishing calendar, however, you don’t have to wait until then to get your hands on some of the books that are perfect for reading at the beach.  “What makes a book a “beach read”?”,  I hear you ask. Well, according to the Macmillan dictionary, it is “A book you can take on holiday (This must be a British dictionary: translation -- vacation), which is good enough to keep you engaged but not so serious it will spoil your holiday (vacation).”  Most of the titles listed below would probably qualify as “beach reads”. The non-fiction titles, not so much. Start your summer beach reading now and record what you read and earn Dragon Dollars in our Summer Reading Program. Below you will find some new titles which may or may not be “beach reads”. You decide!  Enjoy!

Well. I guess summer is semi-officially here. We have rolled past Memorial Day. The last day of school will soon be upon us. And the heat has also arrived – at least the forecast at this writing which had a high temperature struggling to hit 70 degrees – with daytime highs at or about 90 degrees. 90 degrees at the very beginning of June seems a little extreme to me. The Summer Reading Program has now been underway for the past week. All the signs point to the arrival of summer.  And my porch plants have been in their pots since the middle of May. I feel compelled to comment that, back in the day, I would never put plants in the garden until Memorial Day weekend. I would never plant until then because you couldn’t trust the weather not to suddenly turn frosty until then. These past few years I have planted with increasing confidence earlier and earlier in May. I am happy to report that my tomatoes already have fruit set on them and have passed the cherry-tomato size and are speeding past the grape-tomato size and heading towards full-size tomatoes. I hope you had a relaxing Memorial Day weekend and are ready to start reading for the Summer Reading Program community challenge.  Below you will find some of the books which recently arrived at the library. Check them out, and enjoy!

Now that the Summer Reading Program was officially launched last Saturday with a full day of programs ending with a campfire sing-along (a shout out to the Village of DeForest for the loan of a couple of fire pits and some really dry wood that burned very nicely!), we are suddenly  heading into the Memorial Day weekend.  With a long weekend to look forward to and the Summer Reading Program encouraging you to read and record your books, you couldn’t ask for a better time to sit back, kick off your shoes, and start reading through that TBR (To Be Read) pile of books or binging on the TBW (To Be Watched) pile of dvds, or putting together a new jigsaw puzzle, or gathering family and friends together to play a new board game (or video game). The library can help you with any of those endeavors. Stop by and stock up! Below you will find some of the new titles which recently arrived at the library which you can add to your TBR pile. Have a great holiday weekend. Enjoy!

If you are reading this on Friday, the publication date of the DeForest Times Tribune, then you are reading this on the eve of the Summer Reading Program kick-off. Even though the beginning of this week had overnight lows hovering near 40 degrees, warmer weather is on the way and will (eventually) arrive. On Saturday, there are three programs throughout the day to launch the Summer Reading Program. There is the Wild Rumpus Party (think Maurice Sendak and “Where the Wild Things Are” and prepare to roll your terrible eyes and gnash your terrible teeth) for youngsters. From 12 to 3 p.m. there is mini painting for all ages, 12 and younger may attend with a parent or guardian. And then, at 6 p.m. we have a campfire (think fire pits) singalong on the library patio.  Ken Lonquist will be providing the music and leading those assembled in song you might just know, or in some new songs he might just teach us. There will be marshmallows to roast and graham crackers and chocolate. Hmmmm. Sounds like we all might want S’more.  Make sure you sign up for the Summer Reading Program. You’re reading the books anyway so why not log them, add numbers to the community challenge totals, and earn Dragon Dollars which you can use (only) in the library’s store or which you can donate to the Dane County Humane Society, the DeForest Area Needs Network, or to the library to help fund the Story Hour room renovation. Below you will find some of the new books which recently arrived at the library. Put them on hold. Read them. Record them in your Summer Reading account. Enjoy!

Okay. I’m going to start out by owing this right up front. If the weather takes a turn back towards winter -- which would be hard to believe after the eight-degree temperatures on Sunday—it might be because I took the winter gear out of my car. The snow shovel, the broom, the ice scrapers (many), my winter coat, ski mask, mittens, snowmobile boots, and winter coat went back into the house. Those items no longer occupy the back seat of my car. I know. This could be seen as thumbing one’s nose at winter. It could be interpreted as taunting. And, I must confess, I moved all the pots for my porch / patio garden outside including a rather large infestation of volunteer impatiens and Four O’clock plants. But with the kick-off of the Summer Reading Program on Saturday, May 20th only a week and a day away, I felt that I needed to get in the summer mood by getting the winter paraphernalia out of my car and acknowledging the ever-nearing start of the growing season by getting those pots ready to plant. The extended forecast does not appear to hold anything to indicate that winter is coming (back). 

The summer/ spring books continue to arrive in goodly numbers, Below you will find the titles of a few of the new books which recently arrived at the library. BTW, I did find that I had left the coffee can with candle in my car, so maybe that is still keeping the winter weather at bay.

It is hard to believe we are in the month of May already. It is especially hard given the run of weather we had this past weekend and at the beginning of this week. The “s” word was in the forecast for Monday and I would have to report that I did see a few flakes mixed in with the rain. It seems like those April showers have decided to persist into the month of May. Frankly, I’d rather see those May flowers that those April showers are purported to bring.  But, I digress.  Now that May is here, the countdown to the Summer Reading Program can begin!  The Summer Reading Program begins on Saturday, May 20th which is really only – Gasp!—a couple of weeks away.  The good news is that new books have continued to arrive at the library so you have lots of shiny, new books to choose from as you start training for the summer marathon of reading. As I write this, on a rainy Monday morning, I would say that the weather is totally conducive to staying in bed with a good book. Below you will find some of the books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

As T.S. Eliot said, “April is the cruelest month (breeding lilacs out of the dead land/ mixing memory with desire/ stirring dull roots with spring rains. Winter kept us warm/covering earth in forgetful snow)." It certainly has been cruel so far, teasing us with early summer like days, reminding us of those lovely summer days, sending plants into growing frenzies, only to cover us all again with snow. I certainly would like to forget the snow that seems to keep appearing every few days.  Paraphrasing Chaucer’s homage to the April with its sweet showers, that have relieved the drought of March, I am very happy to report that the book drought we experienced during much of March and into the beginning of April, seems to have ended and the books are flowing again Below you will find a selection of the new books which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

A special invitation to you, Gentle Reader. Saturday, April 29th, we will be celebrating National Library Week with an open house from 10 a.m. to noon.  There will be things to do, demonstrations of some of the neat equipment that the library has for you to use on site or for check out, there will be refreshments. There will be a brief dedication ceremony of the Englesby Gallery of Local History at 10 a.m. in the Historical Society gallery. There will be cake. There is a rumor that the karaoke machine will be up and running. It will not be me demonstrating that particular piece of equipment. Please come and join us!

I still have the snow shovel and other winter paraphernalia in my car so the snow and blizzard-like winds last Sunday and Monday are not, I repeat, not my fault.  I have come across this list of the seasons that seems very apropos to the weather we’ve been experiencing. It goes like this:

  • Winter
  • Fool’s Spring
  • Second Winter
  • Spring of Deception
  • Third Winter (I believe this is where we were on Sunday and Monday)
  • The Pollenating
  • Mud Season: Actual Spring
  • Summer
  • Hell’s Front Porch
  • False Fall
  • Second Summer
  • Actual Fall
  • and back to Winter

Using this list helped me understand why the spring books have been slow in arriving. It was because we still had to get through the Third Winter. The 81-degree temperatures at the end of last week fooled the book delivery system into sending us a few boxes of books. Below you will find some of the new books which arrived during “the Spring of Deception”.  Enjoy!

I drove over to the east side of the state on Easter Sunday to have brunch with my kinfolk. There I heard an official proclamation that spring was finally here. (Admittedly, it was 72 degrees on some thermometers and sunny. Young children were gamboling and blowing soapy, rainbow-hued bubbles, dogs were chasing balls, and a corn hole game was on the lawn being played by folks in short-sleeves.) However, as soon as those words escaped the mouth of that relative, most of us knocked wood, some spit (they were outside), and others threw a pinch of salt over their left shoulders. No need to jinx a process that may be underway. Nature is certainly tying its best to advance the season we should be in. The will trees are crowned in yellow and if we squint when looking at a tree line there is a hint of green beginning to show. Flowers that bloom early, like crocus, grape hyacinth, daffodils, and tulips are already blooming or at least pushing up leaves. Many bird species have returned. Robins are singing in the dark, before dawn and well into the dusk. Motorcycles are everywhere you look, In fact, everything seems to be buzzing with life. And this week, I finally have enough new books to fill up a column. Maybe the trickle of spring book titles will get bigger in the upcoming weeks. Below are some of the new books which arrived last week at the library. Enjoy!

Just as we are all waiting for spring to arrive (and by spring I mean mild days with temperatures between 55 and 60 degrees with blue skies dotted with only a few white, puffy clouds, and gentle winds wafting the delicate scent of various pollens to our olfactory senses while the birds make a delightful chorus of song) so too am I waiting for the spring books to arrive. Right not we are experience a thaw in the drought of late winter.  But this thaw is releasing only a trickle of books. I have managed to scrap together only 8 titles this week. Usually there are at least a dozen and sometimes a baker’s dozen titles.  Going with the baker’s terminology from the previous sentence, I guess I’d have to say that half a loaf is better than none, or in this case two-thirds (do the math)  of a loaf is better than none.  

Since I have a little space left to fill, I’d like to recommend a book that, unfortunately, has 350 active holds on it, but is a charming, read. It is “Remarkably Bright Creatures” by Jenna Pick.  This is the story of Tova who cleans an aquarium at night where Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus who is a bit of an escape artist, very self-aware, is nearing the end of his life.  The two form a friendship, find a way to communicate, and end up helping each other. This is a sweet book and has a happy ending where coincidence puts a nice bow on things and people heal and move forward together. Marcellus “says” of our species—“Humans. For the most part, you are dull and blundering. But occasionally, you can be remarkably bright creatures.” 


Another Thursday, another snow storm. Another Saturday, another 10 inches of snow.  Winter can’t seem to get the hint that it should go away. Now!   The Winter Reading Program has been finished for enough time for us to have gathered the statistics.  Some of which are detailed below. During the 2021-2022 Winter Reading Program there were 138 participants. Those participants read 9,979 books. Donations of Dragon Dollars to the Dane County Humane Society, the National Eagle Center, the DeForest Area Needs Network (D.A.N.N.) and the DeForest Area Public Library’s Endowment totaled $925.  During this year’s 2022-2023 Winter Reading Program, There were 170 participants (a 23% increase) read an astonishing 12,043 books (a 21% increase).  Donations to the UW Urban Canid Project, the library’s Endowment, D.A.N.N., and the Humane Society totaled $1,109 (an increase of almost 20%).  All in all, this was a very successful program for a winter that has yet to end.

And while we’re waiting for winter to truly, completely, absolutely end, we are also waiting for the spring book titles to appear. Below are the paltry few titles that arrived this past week. Enjoy!

The first day of spring occurred this past Monday, March 20th at 4:24 p.m. The vernal equinox occurred when the sun crossed the celestial equator in a northerly direction. This is good news for those of us who have been cursing Booky – our prognosticating badger—who, on Ground Hogs Day predicted winter’s end was a long, long way in the future. While it is great to have such an accurate weather forecaster residing at the library, sometimes I wish he was wrong.  I’m going to knock on wood and opine that the ten-day forecast as of this writing, looks like spring might actually be paying attention to the calendar.  Birds have continued to arrive in migratory flocks. Killdeer, grackles, robins, and cedar waxwings have all been hanging out around the bird feeders lately. Until this past weekend, I was starting to see motorcycles beginning to take to the highways. That 10-degree wind chill last weekend curtailed the start of that season!  Speaking of seasons, the summer / beach book season will soon be upon us. Indeed, one of the titles listed below has been proclaimed as “the first beach book of the season” by reviewers. Below you will find some other books that, while not necessarily beach-worthy, are still good reads. Enjoy!

Even though that snow squall last Sunday night that put a nice, slushy layer of snow on everything might be counter indicative of winter’s end, I believe that spring is sneaking into Wisconsin on the wings of returning birds. This past Sunday – before the snow arrived—there were robins hopping around on the lawn. I haven’t heard them singing yet but some of them are back. Admittedly on Monday morning, they were sitting, huddled in a tree, glaring at the snow, but they were hanging in because in their wee birdy hearts and brains they believe that spring is coming. A friend who lives a few miles south of here saw kill deer and turkey vultures on Sunday as well. Now we all know that the buzzards (a.k.a turkey vultures) return of Hinckley, Ohio every spring on March 15, like clockwork. Having turkey vultures here almost 10 days before their scheduled arrival in Ohio must mean something. I also saw people riding around on motorcycles over the weekend which might be the strongest indicator of winter’s end. Speaking of ends, the Winter Reading Program ended on Saturday, March 4th. You have until 4 p.m. on March 12th to make purchases in our prize store or to donate your Dragon Dollars to one of the designated charities. The countdown to the Summer Reading Program will begin any minute now. In the meantime, below you will find the titles of some of the recently-arrived books at the library. Enjoy!

Last Friday, a friend of mine and I drove out to Kearney, Nebraska to see the start of the annual Sandhill Crane migration that see over half a million (yes, that’s more than 500,000) cranes passing through the area. The cranes take a break as they make their way from the Gulf coast states up to the Alaska, the Northwest Territories, and eastern Siberia where they will set up housekeeping for 5 or 6 months, raise a couple of chicks, teach them to fly, and head back to warmer climes. Seeing cranes in small numbers in Wisconsin lifts my spirits and fills me with joy. Seeing thousands and tens of thousands of cranes is enough to take one’s breath away and drop you to your knees in wonder. I saw a t-shirt in the gift shop at the Rowe Sanctuary which looks like a patent, medical tonic bottle and calls the crane migration “Mother Nature’s Miracle Medicine” – refreshing, rejuvenating, restorative. It goes on to claim it alleviates stress, melancholy, boredom … pallor, loss of vitality, tedium… and much more! I would have to say, I don’t believe any of their claims are bogus. Crane viewing should be used regularly and generously. If you’re interested in viewing some cranes and have time from before the crack of dawn until 7:30 a.m. you, too, could take part in the Annual Midwest Crane Count. (Info available at the International Crane Foundation website)

Now that the Winter Reading has ended and before the Summer Reading Program begins you could use all the time you are not reading to watch cranes in Wisconsin. In case you do want to read some of the new books that have arrived at the library recently instead of watching the skies for returning Sandhill Cranes, there are some titles listed below. Enjoy!

Time is running out. I’m not kidding. I have warned you for at least that past three weeks that the Winter Reading Program would be ending on March 4th. If you’ve looked at your calendar recently, you will see that date is a week – that’s 7 days, 168 hours, or 10,080 minutes—from tomorrow.  Now I know you didn’t make it through all the dark days of this past winter without reading (or listening to) a book. I know that you want to earn a few dragon dollars so you can buy yourself or your loved one a supper cool gift from our prize store. I know that if you’re not into gift/prize getting you would want to give those hard-earned dragon dollars to one  or all of our four deserving charities—The Urban Canid Project at the U.W. Madison, the DeForest Area Needs Network, the Dane County Humane Society, or the DeForest Area Public Library Endowment.  You have until 5 p.m. on March 4th to enter titles in the app. You have until March 12th to get those dollars and spend them.  

While I realize that you won’t have time to read any of the books listed below to include in the 2023 Winter Reading Program, you can still add them to your to-be-read list. Enjoy!

BTW, I mentioned last week that sandhill cranes generally start staging north on Valentine’s Day. I have to report on Wednesday, February 15th, there was a lone crane circling over Western Green Park (and my condo) at 5 p.m.  He was certainly doing a lot of shouting whether for his fellow cranes to catch up or for them to let him know where they were, I couldn’t tell. This is the earliest I have seen a sandhill crane in DeForest. And then we got four inches of snow the next day so I’m sure he reconsidered and headed south for a while.

Last week I mentioned that there were three weeks left in the Winter Reading Program. I opined that there was still plenty of time to read, read, read, and the titles of what you read to earn dragon dollars which you could use for purchasing cool stuff in our Fox’s Den store or for donations to one of our designated charities. So. Did you do it? I thought so. The good news is that as of this Friday you still have two weeks to read, record, and earn dragon dollars. If you are still putting this most pleasant task off, let me remind you that National Procrastination Week does not begin until March 6th. Actually, beginning to procrastinate before National Procrastination Week seems like a direct slap in the face to the spirit of that week, i.e you are celebrating the week before the week is even here. Take some time this week to read, record, and earn some dragon dollars before the Winter Reading Program ends.

Speaking of winter ending (wasn’t that a smooth segue?), it seems as if we get four or five days of spring-like weather and then a nice big snow storm. This seems more like March weather than mid-February weather. The birds are beginning to think it’s spring. Birds that start setting up housekeeping early – your blue jays, pigeons, mourning doves, hawks, owls, house sparrows, etc.-- seem to be dating already. The chickadee’s have added their “phoebe” song to their repertoire as the start getting ready to woo. And as we all know, the Sandhill cranes (usually) start heading north to that great join up on the Platte River on February 14th. Below are some of the new books which recently arrived at the library.


The Winter Reading Program ends on Saturday, March 4th. That means that you still have three (3) full weeks to read, record what you’ve read and earn dragon dollars to either 1) spend in our store or 2) donate it to one of my designated charities and I will convert those dragon dollars to U.S. dollars and make a donation in that amount. Three weeks is plenty of time to plow through any number of books Why if you read a paltry 4 hours a day for those 22 days until the end of the program that’s 88 hours. The average book is around 300 pages with approximately 300 words per page (ask Google, she’ll confirm these averages). Now if you read a page a minute – which is only 300 words (I know you can do it!)- you could read 60 pages per hour times the 88 hours you will read between now and the end of the Winter Reading Program. That’s 5,280 pages or (dividing by 300 pages in a book) 17.6 books. If memory serves, you can earn a dragon dollar for each book read. There’s still time to participate in the program and earn a few bucks for your own use or others (Valentine’s Day is coming).

The moderating weather has not only put hope in our hearts, but started the trickle of the spring book lists toward our doors. Below are some of the books which recently arrived at your library. Enjoy!

By the time you read this, Bookie, the library's prognosticating badger, shall have made a prediction about how much longer winter will be staying around in these parts. As you may or may not recall, Bookie has been making highly accurate predictions that, well, let's just say it, outshine and put to shame rival prognosticators such as our neighbor to the east in Sun Prairie, a.k.a, Jimmy the Groundhog and that other groundhog even further to the east, Punxsutawney Phil. Since I am writing this on the last Monday in January, I have no idea what Bookie my have foreseen. I do, however, know a couple of things about the weather in late January and early February. The weather lore says that as the days lengthen, the cold strengthens. This is certainly proven out by the beginning of this week. The days have noticeably gotten longer. The earliest sunset in our area occurs around the 2nd week of December when the sunsets at 4:22. The latest sunrise, 7:29. shows up on December 29th and persisted through the first week of January. Now we have started gaining time at both ends of the day and have 17 extra minutes in the morning and a whopping 49 minutes at the end of the day. The days have lengthen and we have definitely gotten a blast of arctic air. The good news is that the Old Farmer's Almanac kinda, sorta, predicted this for the Midwest and Ohio Valley. A fairly mild start to January, followed by a cold blast right about this time. The great news is that almanac foresees mild weather in February. So while you are waiting for the mild weather to arrive as well as the Superbowl, there are some books listed below for you to peruse. Enjoy!

A couple of weekends ago, during the time when we were still basking in the warmth of a January thaw that seemed like it would last the entire month, my friend and I headed south in search of sandhill cranes. Those of you who know me or are regular readers of this column know that I am what some refer to as a “craniac”. I really love cranes. I love seeing them. I love hearing them calling across the skies and marshes and cornfields. I love watching them dance in their excitement of being around other cranes with a joie de vivre I envy. Are you getting the feeling that I like cranes a whole lot? I like them so much that I want to see them every month of the year. Cranes are hanging out in this part of Wisconsin much longer than they used to and returning sooner too. I had November cranes this year. I had December cranes this year. But the cranes left during that second week of December which means a road trip for me and my fellow craniac. The Jasper Pulaski Wildlife Area near Kouts, Indiana is a staging area for sandhill cranes before they head further south. So off we went. The area where the cranes can usually be found has been taken over by two large solar farms. While there’s still grass to be found between the solar panels, there’s no corn to be gleaned. So we had to drive around looking for cranes a long time without seeing any. Suddenly, there were two in the air and five on the ground (I have pictures!) so we knew they had to be somewhere. Then I remembered that the year Covid struck my fellow craniac and I were on our way to Nashville to the Public Library Association Conference and had swung by this area to see if we could find our January cranes. We didn’t see any at the refuge area, but there were a few thousand cranes as we headed west towards I-65. We tried that and there they were. A few thousand cranes – dancing, calling, feeding on corn fields in the sunshine on snowless fields. Another successful January crane quest!

If you’re searching for some new books, caste your eyes further down the page. Below are some of the new titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!

A life-long member of the community, John Englesby died sometime on Thursday, January 5th. He was a long-time member of the library board. I feel I should note his passing since, in a way, it changes the landscape of the community. Finding the words to describe John Englesby is difficult, but “reliable” and “dependable” immediately leap to mind. I first knew something wasn’t right when he failed to respond to an email and when he failed to show up -- without explanation or excuse-- to the first library board meeting of 2023. He also failed to show up to play piano at the Senior Center that morning which sent people to his house. Not showing up was so unlike John. He always did what he said he would do.

John was deeply rooted in the community and a life long resident of Morrisonville. He was a teacher with a Phd from UW Madison. He loved local history and did all he could to collect and preserve it. He was on the library board since 1982. He was on the library board when I was hired. He was the president of the library board for many years including the years that saw the library being built. He and I attended so many construction meetings during the project. He took meticulous notes which I’m sure are preserved somewhere in the library. John was always part of the library landscape. It is hard to believe that I won’t be seeing him walk across the library today or tomorrow or ever again.

He oversaw the preservation of the Lyster House, the Depot, and the Hansen Newell Bennett House. He was tireless in his devotion to not losing any local history. He was at the gallery and DeForest Area Historical Society office in the library at least twice a week and often more. The last time I saw John was on Tuesday, the 3rd of January as he was talking to someone at the circulation desk. The last time I saw him to talk to was at Dick Emerson's funeral on the 13th of December. With both John and Dick gone, a gigantic piece of local history is gone forever. The loss of John’s presence and memories is immeasurable. His legacy is great. He was a kind soul and a gentleman -- in every sense of the word.

Below are some of the books which recently arrived at the library.

This past weekend, a friend of mine who is an avid bird watcher, texted me to say that there was a large, migratory flock of cowbirds and starlings hanging around at the edge of the marsh on their property. Birds flock up to head south, generally speaking, and return north in the spring in smaller bands. So was this a group of birds that had lingered during that cold snap we had a few weeks ago and are now confused about which season they're in? Hard to say. That flock left and a couple of days later there were about 1,000 red-winged blackbirds using that same marsh as a stop over. The weather has certainly been unseasonable. January looks to continue to be mild for the foreseeable forecast. There is a bush on the library grounds with a south facing that looks like it's seriously considering budding. I continue to point out to people that migration and plants beginning to wake from dormancy is a function of not only temperature (which can be a real fooler) but also length of daylight. And while the days have gotten noticeably longer at the sunset end of things -- that stopped way back at the beginning of December when the latest sunset was 4:22 and we have been slowly but steadily gaining minutes until at this publishing sunset is at 4:46-- we only just stopped have sunrise at a later time every day. Way back in December when sunset quit getting later and later --on the 11th or so-- sunrise was at 7:19. Today it is at 7:27 (actually a gain of two minutes of daylight since the 1st of the year). This is a long way of saying that although length of day is moving in the right direction (at last) it shouldn't be triggering early spring behavior -- except in humans who always have hope in their hearts. But I digress from the real reason you are here. Below are the new books which recently arrived at the library --not because of any urges to migrate north to our library brought on by mild temperatures and longer daylight hours, but by the UPS man. Enjoy!

I hope you had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebration. What about those Packers, eh?! A great way to start a new year. Here’s hoping they can carry on as they have begun. Now that a great many of the winter holidays are past and the post-holiday sales have petered out, it is time to get serious about the Winter Reading Program. This year we are outfoxing winter by reading, so now is the time to dig in and read. Below you will find some new titles to whet your appetite. Pickings in the new book realm are a little slim these past few weeks due to shipping congestion undoubtedly brought on by the holidays and also by the fact that our major book jobber was hijacked and is still recovering from that incident. While waiting for the hottest bestsellers to arrive, why not read a classic? Isn’t there a book you’ve always been meaning to read? “War and Peace”, “Madame Bovary”, “ David Copperfield” , “ Les Miserable”, or “The Count of Monte Cristo” to name just a few rather large, rather cumbersome tomes. If you check out one of these books and it still seems too overwhelming, well, there’s a app for that. Serialreader.org offers over 600 classic book titles in bite-size chunks of about 20 minutes of the book each day for free (with ads). I made it through “War and Peace” on this app (My there was a lot of riding back and forth in that war). You can count any books you read on whatever platform or format you read it on for the Winter Reading Program. Below are some of the most recent arrivals. Enjoy!