Please read this...Books, books...and tiny, feathered dinosaurs

This time, there weren't any books about fossils. That was the message which was shared with yours truly during a visit to a book sale which was held at Stinson Memorial Library in Anna.

The sale, as noted last week in this space, was sponsored by the fine folks of the Friends of Stinson Library. Again, in the interest of full disclosure, your writer is an honorary life member of the organization, for which I am grateful and honored.

The message about fossil books was shared by one of the folks who was working at the book sale. This particular fellow (actually she's a female "fellow") knows of my interest in fossils. Of course, by now, I'm guessing that lots of folks know about that interest. She keeps an eye out for fossil books at the sales. Occasionally, one pops up. Several are now on the bookshelves at home.

Those fossil books join the many, many books which make up our home library. Quite honestly, we can't seem to help ourselves when it comes to acquiring books. If we go someplace that has books which are available, there's a pretty good chance that we're going to bring one, or two, or three, or how ever many, home. 

To be honest with you, I "forgot" to mention to The Other Half that my plans for the day of the book sale included a visit to the book sale. I figured she would have suggested that we didn't need any more books, and I suppose she would be right.

That thought crossed my mind when I got to the library and started looking at the treasures which were available. Just one, today, I thought. Just one. 

That lasted for about as long as it took to find a history book about the American Revolution, another history book about the Civil War, a novel about the same Civil War (and baseball – how much better could things get?) and, best of all, a treat for The Other Half: a ginormous Spanish/English dictionary. She's learning Spanish, you see. I'll just take this big ol' dictionary home, and will be bueno. Si? Si.

As it turned out, there were indeed no books about fossils. However, I did find a children's book about dinosaurs, which, in turn, I donated for a project at the library which was being sponsored by local Girl Scouts. The scouts were collecting books for Bethany Village in Anna. They are to be commended.

Dinosaurs, in turn, are this week's segue from a book sale to a book which I've been reading. 

The book is titled "My Beloved Brontosaurus...On the Road with Old Bones, New Scienee, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs," and was written by Brian Switek. The front end flap of the book describes the author as a "dinosaur fanatic," which is fine by me.

At the time this was being written, I'd only made it through page 37 of the 256 pages in the book. I had read a couple of things which caught my attention.

On page 30, the author wrote that dinosaurs are "mind-bogglingly strange." "Mind-bogglingly." What a fascinating combination of hyphenated words. Easy to look at. Hard to say. Try it. Three times, as fast as you can. (Kind of like saying "toy boat" three times as fast as you can. Just did it, didn't you?)

Then there was the author's sharing of an observation made by George Gaylord Simpson, "one of the greatest paleontologists of the twentieth century."

Mr. Simpson wrote: "Fossil hunting is far the most fascinating of all sports. It has uncertainty and excitement and all the thrills of gambling with none of the vicious features. The hunter never knows what his bag may be, perhaps nothing, perhaps a creature never before seen by human eyes. The fossil hunter does not kill; he resurrects. And the result of his sport is to add to the sum of human pleasure and to the treasures of human knowledge."

To which I respond: Amen. To be honest with you, though, I haven't done any  "bone digging," which is how Mr. Simpson referred to fossil hunting. Mainly because there just don't seem to be any dinosaur bones to be dug in Southern Illinois. However, if you look in the right places, there are plenty of seashells and ferns to find. And, somewhere there's even a whole trilobite. But, that's another story. Just so you know, my bucket lists includes to a trip to the wilds of Montana or Wyoming, where one can actually experience dinosaur bone digging.

Finally (thank goodness, you're saying?), a couple of other gems from Mr. Switek's book. On page 24, the author observes that "birds are dinosaurs," followed on page 25 by: "we know now that birds are the sole surviving dinosaur lineage."

Birds are dinosaurs. I thought about the author's words last Saturday afternoon while I listened to some newborn dinosaurs chirping away in their house on our front porch. Pretty soon, mom (or dad?) tywrenosaurus rex made a stop at the house, with dinner, I'm assuming, making a stop on the birdhouse's Jurassic Perch. Sorry.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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