“If there are things you would find out, just use your eyes and look about.”
–“Little Joe Otter” by Thornton W Burgess, 1925.
SOLON– The Solon Pubic Library has a new display to expand the summer reading program theme “Dream Big.” Set in the woods near a small marsh, the exhibit, “Night Owl,” is a diorama/fantasy, and dedicated to the Macbride Raptor Project.
The moon is full on this mid-summer night. High up in a sycamore tree, the Great Horned Owl– tiger own, night emperor– watches for movement on the forest floor. He sees the little fox slip under the wire fence, only to startle a Barred Owl sitting on a stump looking for mice. The moss and jack-in-the pulpits hide small frogs and snakes from the moonlight. Beyond the fence lies the marsh with its ferns and cattails. A river otter has just caught a fish and stands upright to call his family to dinner. At that moment, another Great Horned Owl swoop’s silently toward a coiled snake.
The animals included are common characters in children’s literature. Perhaps the most famous fox is Beatrix Potter’s Mr. Toad. The river otter appears in “Wind in the Willows,” beloved friend of Badger and Toad, as well as the Smiling Pond series by Thornton W. Burgess, 1925. Owls are magical creatures in Harry Potter, but the most famous owl is Archimedes in T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King.” This owl teaches the young King Arthur, and has him fly with the wild geese on their great migration.
The owls are on loan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the University of Iowa Natural History Museum. The fox comes from the family of Don Ochs, and the river otter is loaned by Randy Baxa of Baxa’s Sutliff Store and Tavern. The animals are presented, not as trophies, but as educational exhibits. The Solon Library has complied with all federal and state regulations for the display of these animals. These laws protect animals in the wild, as well as prohibit trade in their parts as contraband.
A special thank you to Jack Neuzil and Jacque Deaton for their assistance, as well as to the Friends of the Solon Library for their support. The display will run through July 21.
A note regarding two previous displays– “Road Trip” was dedicated to Jack Kerouac and the 55th anniversary of his famous book. “On The Road” has now been released as a movie produced by Roman Coppola, and directed by the Brazilian director Salles, who also made the “Motorcycle Diaries.”
We all mourn the loss of Ray Bradbury. “The Halloween Tree” was dedicated to him and his wonderful Halloween story, but all his work was in the realm of the imagination, and often visionary. Fahrenheit 451, the temperature at which books burn, remains relevant, even prophetic…” I remember the newspapers dying like huge moths… You don’t have to burn books, do you, if the world starts to fill up with non readers…” He will be missed.