Sara The Snowy Owl Fable - 1999
The Winter it Forgot to Snow
Sara had been coming to Saranac Lake since 1898, but never had she seen the folks of the village so sad. In the 50 years since her first visit, this was the first time the village was not covered with snow.
This was a time long before snow could be made by spraying a mist of water into the cold air. It was a time when only what fell from the skies covered the ground and now the ground was green. When Sara arrived for her annual visit, all the snowshoes and skis were still packed away.
It was ironic, in most places people hope for warm and mild Winters, but not in Saranac Lake where people enjoy the fruits of Winter. They relish the fun of snow and ice that usually is so abundant in the area. This was the first time that Sara's beautiful white feathers did not blend in with the snow in the trees.
Sara was a white owl (that is what they called owls like her at the time, but that name was soon to change). Her wing-span was almost as wide as the whole Adirondack Forest.
Sara was in town for the Winter Carnival, but few were excited about the prospects of a Carnival without snow. Everyone wondered how they could celebrate Winter, if Winter never showed up. Even the arrival of Sara was met with less enthusiasm than usual. Sara swooped down on Prospect Avenue to visit her friend Sean. She liked to make that her first stop because the road was high above the village and presented one of the best views. She also liked how Sean always greeted her with a big smile–his smile was almost as big as the wing-span of the white owl!
To her dismay, even Sean was not happy. If Sean couldn't smile, then who could, thought Sara. The little boy told Sara that he felt bad because the town would not be able to build the Ice Palace for her to stay in.
Sara told him that she could sleep in the woods in Bloomingdale, in the woods near her friend Kati-Ann. But that was little comfort for her young friend. Sean pointed out that he could not ski at Mt. Pisgah, the little ski slope north of town, or sled at the hills in town. Many of the children had received sleds and skates for Christmas, but these gifts were sad reminders that Winter had forgotten to stop in Saranac Lake that year.
The missing Winter was also hurting business in the small town. Everyone from Morgan Fobare, who sold wood for the wood burners, to Pat Nosliw, who made the warmest sweaters in the east from the wool of her Norwegian sheep, was wondering where their next dollar would come from. Without Winter, who needed their goods?
Without the cold to freeze the lakes, the ice industry of the village was missing. The same blocks of ice that were pushed and stacked into a home for Sara, were also stored to fill iceboxes in the summer.
By now the town had become famous for the gigantic Ice Palace that was built to protect Sara from the harshness of the Winter winds. Almost as well known was how people who were sick got better when they lived in Saranac Lake. Few believed the town had any magical cure, but all knew that happiness makes people feel better. Unfortunately that happiness was sadly lacking this year.
Sara told her friends in the Village to cheer up, that she had a plan to bring Winter back to Saranac Lake. It was no simple plan, but fortunately Sara had come to Saranac Lake early this year. She had planned to go sledding with Sean and to help Kati-Ann with her math homework. Sara was very talented with fractions and could divide with the best of them.
The first thing Sara did was borrow the mayor's hat. Sara knew the Mayor had the biggest head in town and since it wasn't cold he didn't need a hat anyway. With the hat in her beak she flew up to the Arctic Circle and scooped up a hat-full of snow and dumped it into a cloud that was just dawdling in the sky. She got several more hat-fulls until the cloud was so full, it was ready to burst.
To give the cloud a little nudge, Sara got behind it and flapped her powerful wings. She then began to push the cloud with her beak. In front of the cold air that moved along with Sara and the bundle of snow. It was a long flight, but the enormous white owl was able to bring the cloud to Saranac Lake in plenty of time for the beginning of Winter Carnival
Once the snow-filled cloud was over the village, Sara took a snoot-full of pepper. This caused her to sneeze and her sneeze was more than that cloud, or any other, could bear. When the cloud cracked open it snowed for days, dumping Winter all over the village. The cold air froze the lakes and soon the village was making another Ice Palace. Sara had brought Winter to the village.
In the process of scooping up snow, the mayor's hat had stretched some, but once the mayor began to tell everyone that he was responsible for Winter finally arriving, the hat seemed to fit just right again.
He didn't take all of Sara's credit though. Because she had turned the village into a Winter spectacle, they gave her a nickname. From then on Sara and all the other white owls became known as snowy owls.