Sara the Snowy Owl 2012

Page turner part 2
Sara the Snowy Owl parade
photo by Andy Flynn

Sara the Snowy owl fable - 2012

Page turner part 2

Sara left the Saranac Lake Free Library with a wing full of books. Mr. McNeil personally made sure that Sara's library card was updated and she found the books she wanted.

The big Arctic owl put the books in her feet and flew up to the top of Slater Hill. She wanted to read a little, but also think about ways to help bring children into the library. She had promised Mr. McNeil, or Bill as he had asked Sara to call him, she would find a way to draw children into the library. She knew children 'flocked' to her, but flew by the library, and that needed to change.

Sara took one of her books and found a spot in the Ice Palace. In the last few years she was very lucky that the Palace was illuminated. With a secure source of hydropower coming from the Paul Smith's Electric Company, it was easy to light up the blocks of ice so they would dazzle in the day and night. Saranac Lake was always known as the village that the river flowed through, but now the river left some energy behind in the form of electricity as it flowed on.

This was an added bonus for the diurnal owl. Since she was active day and night, she could read when she liked. Though it was relatively early, 8 p.m. darkness had settled over Saranac Lake.

Just as the Snowy Owl was getting into the book she heard a giggle. The big white owl thought she recognized the giggle of a girl who would talk literature with Sara. 'I think that is little Ginger Pharaoh,' Sara thought.

"Whoo whooo whoo," came a little voice. "Who is there?"

"Hmmm," hooted Sara. "There seems to be a seasoning in the air; is it pepper?"

The girl giggled some more.

"No, not Pepper, maybe Jasmine – is that you Jasmine?" asked the feathery friend.

"Whoo whoo whoo," came back the answer.

"No.. that spicy girl is too pungent to be Jasmine," the snowy owl continued to tease the girl. "I think it could only be one person, Ginger Pharaoh."

"Boo!" squealed the girl as she jumped around the corner with a small sheet over her back, flapping like a bird. Sara hugged the young girl, with her expansive wingspan.

Ginger admired the Owl's collection of books. Sara pointed out that anyone in Saranac Lake could have those books; all they had to do is go to the library.

Ginger's face squinted up: "And have to deal with Miss Icepick?"

It took Sara a second, but slowly it dawned on her, Ginger was taking about Missy Blackyard, the library clerk that always treated the snowy owl so unkindly. It was understandable how Ginger felt; after all it was William McNeil, the head librarian, who had asked Sara to find a way to bring more children into the library. It was clear there was a reason why children avoided the library.

"But you love books," Sara reminded the girl. "You are always borrowing mine."

"How about I just buy some of your books?!?!" Ginger asked. Like many of the older children in Saranac Lake, she was able to earn some spending money by helping out the curing patients. Ginger had a job delivering food trays to patients.

That request to buy books gave the wise white owl an idea.

"Hmmm, maybe I will, but you will have to go through my agent," Sara said with a wink.

"You are thinking about selling some of your books?" Ginger asked, "If so, let me be first in line."

Sara and Ginger talked for a bit more, the young girl was telling about her speed skating adventures and the snowy owl talked about her flights up north. Both were captivated because as much as each enjoyed a good story (written or told), they both were great spinners of yarn.

Even after a late night with Ginger, Sara was up early putting her plan into place. First she checked in with Bill and Mary. They liked her idea and each had extra books to donate. In fact Bill said it was time to 'weed out' some of the books that were 'old and rumpled.' The 1913 Winter Carnival took place on January 28, 29 & 30, now the threechums had special plans for the January 31st.

Next Sara flew to the icehouse where Michael C. Meagher let her store some of her possessions, mainly she kept books there since she didn't want to fly the manuscripts back and forth to the tundra. Meagher ran an ice cutting business and had built the Ice Palace this year. Many of the books were the same ones that Missy Blackyard had rejected several years before. Now they would have a chance to circulate again.

All during carnival - at the many events - Sara asked for book donations and like the big white bird everyone seemed to have books that were in need of new readers. Best of all the majority of the books were children books. Sara's requests for donations also advertised the new post-carnival event: "The Library Book Sale."

The new event delayed the settling of the 'coasting contest bet' between Bill, Mary and Sara until late afternoon on the 31st. Bill had coasted the furthest; Sara was second; and Mary was third. Sipping sarsaparillas on the Prescott Perch was also a celebration of the successful book sale. Missy Blackyard ended up eating her words. She had told everyone: "no one would buy books from a library, when any other day they could borrow them for free." But by noon of the sale the library had sold most of the books. Mary suggested a two-for one sale and the extra bargain sent the remaining books flying out the door. When Sara was out of earshot of Missy, she told Bill McNeil: "always measure your foot twice before opening mouth," and they had a good chuckle.

In the end Missy sold so many books to children - earning money for the library - that she actually became a little friendlier, forgetting both that she thought the sale was going to be a flop and her pettiness. It was unclear if it was because of the money the library was bringing in or if Ms. Blackyard enjoyed selling books over loaning them. Just like Missy had changed, so did the children. Now that they could see the library aide could be friendly, the children began to visit the library regularly. Once again Sara had worked some Winter Carnival Magic.

It warmed Sara's feathers when he heard Missy say: "The library should sponsor a children's parade."

Missy might have only been being oddly jocular, but several years later Sara would make the idea a reality.

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