Sara the Snowy Owl 2009

A Pirate's Dream
Sara the Snowy Owl parade
photo by Andy Flynn

Sara the Snowy Owl Fable - 2009

A Pirate's Dream

As soon as Sydney hit the water, he started inhaling the fresh Adirondack air. It was more like a gasp. His boots were filling with water and while he was breathing in, he was starting to shiver.

Even though it was 27 degrees, a fairly balmy day for February in Saranac Lake, the water was still ice cold. It was great palace building weather — in the 20's during the day, but dipping to sub-zero at night.

Sydney's arms spun as he worked toward the shore. Sydney wasn't sure if the rest of the Ice Palace Workers were laughing at the fact that he had been bumped into Pontiac Bay with Morgan's crane operation or if they found it funny how he was swimming like a St. Bernard to get out of the water.

Morgan had just nudged Sydney a bit with the crane as Syd leaned over the edge of the ice mass, with a steel pole he had been trying to work an ice block loose and over the edge he went. No one was surprised. Morgan and Sydney were constantly playing jokes on each other. In fact, Sydney was regretting that he didn't take advantage of his time at the crane levers earlier in the day.

"Arrrgh thars she blows," Morgan said, as if he was a sailor, when Sydney spit out water. Morgan's laughter could be heard throughout the industrious village that celebrated winter with a now yearly carnival.

It was 1964 and there was good news, Trudeau Institute was going to be opening it's doors again, this time on the shores of Lower Saranac. Trudeau was going to continue as a research facility. It had been 10 years since the Trudeau Sanitarium closed it's door. American Management Association had purchased the 66-acre Saranac Lake campus from the Trudeau Foundation in 1957 after the Institute moved to the end of Algonquin Avenue.

Syd pulled himself out of the lake and walked straight over to the fire the workers were using to keep warm. Sara the Snowy Owl had hopped over to the fire and was throwing more wood on the blaze. She felt bad that she was one of the first to laugh at Sydney's mishap, especially since Syd always worked so hard to build the Ice Palace — where Sara stayed when she came to Saranac Lake for Winter Carnival.

Fortunately Sydney was dressed only in his wool trousers and a t-shirt. With the sun out and the relatively warm temperatures; the work needed to get the blocks to the conveyor belt had caused him to work up a sweat. Ironically he had just been thinking about going home to take a bath. After working all day on the Palace, a warm bath helped ease his tired muscles. This was a different kind of bath.

This was a different kind of bath.

"Aye Mately, I's hopes you have your land-legs back soon," called Morgan as he walked away.

Morgan's penchant for speaking as a sailor had to do with his favorite book — written by Robert Louis Stevenson, a one-time visitor Saranac Lake. One of Stevenson's books was always on Morgan's nightstand, but his favorite tome was "Treasure Island."

Sara flapped her wings to stoke the fire and help Sydney warm up. Syd was angry, but it seemed he was less mad about his entrance into the polar bear club and frustrated he could never match Morgan's practical jokes.

"I just wish I could really get him with a really good joke," Sydney said to no one in particular, but Sara was the only one around to hear.

"If I could think of something, I would be glad to help you," Sara told him. Just as she said that the Harrietstown Townhall clock began to chime. It rang three times and Sara realized she was late. She was one of the official welcomers and she needed to be at the Townhall at 3:30 p.m.

Since 1953, celebrity Kings and Queens had been recruited to preside over Winter Carnival. This year the King was going to be singer and entertainer Julius LaRosa and the Queen was to once again to be Miss Rheingold. As the name implied, she was the representative of the beer company. An election was held each year to pick Miss Rheingold, this year the winner was an attractive blond named Celeste Yarnell. As it would turn out, she was the last Miss Rheingold to be elected. For the last few years one of the duties of Miss Rheingold was also to be Winter Carnival Royalty.

Sara was quite impressed by Celeste and quickly learned she was an animal lover, so they became fast friends. Sara gave Celeste a tour of the town and when they came to the Ice Palace that was now complete — there was Sydney still trying to warm up by the fire.

An explanation was required. One thing led to another and Celeste told Sydney that if she could help him get back at Morgan she would. It was then that Sara and Sydney learned the reason why Celeste entered the Miss Rheingold contest was so she could win a trip to Hollywood.

"I have always dreamt of being an actor," Celeste said.

"Dreamt...dream..." Sara hooted, "That's it."

Sara revealed her plan.

The next day was many things. There was love in the air because it was St. Valentines Day and there was joy because Winter Carnival had begun. And there was the plot and it thickened. Sydney did his own acting, he played the part of an man who was not mad about being nudged into a frigid lake, or a man that had a plan. That was act one.

Though Morgan was a little bewildered and suspected something was up, he just thought that Sydney had accepted that Morgan was the king of pranksters. He didn't know the Queen of pranksters laid in wait.

That night, act two unfolded. Miss Rheinhold made liberal use of her namesake and lead Morgan on a night of revelry.

Act three was when the fun started. Sara, Celeste and Sydney covered their heads and faces with bandanas and they were clothed like pirates. They slipped into Morgan's house. They could tell by the snoring — that sounded like a hibernating bear — that Morgan was asleep. They tied him to his bed.

"Morgan," screamed Celeste in a low throaty voice. The shades were pulled and it seemed a nor'eastern was coming through, because Sara was flapping her wings.

The tables were turned and the joker screamed with fright: "Who is it?!?"

"It is me, Lady Killigrew, and your ship is sinking," Celeste growled.

"What?!?" Morgan was truly frighten.

At that point Sara and Syd made howling noises.

Morgan didn't know where he was and struggled to get out of bed, but the straps held him tight. He couldn't figure out how he had gotten on a ship, but it was clear he couldn't jump off.

"Help me," pleaded Morgan.

"Here comes a wave over starboard," Celeste yelled and at that point Sydney threw a bucket of ice water on Morgan.

"Here comes a wave over starboard," Celeste yelled and at that point Sydney threw a bucket of ice water on Morgan.

It is still a mystery how the Village of Saranac Lake slept through Morgan's bestial wail, but for the most part they did. After he screamed, he fainted. That gave Sydney a chance to untie Morgan and the three thespians slipped out of the house.

Morgan told no one of his nightmare, though most figured he knew what happened. And every time Celeste appeared in a movie or on TV — especially Star Trek (because it was Morgan's favorite show) — Sydney would say: "boy, that woman can act."

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