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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Burgess - How Old Mr. Heron Learned Patience - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

I once had an elderly lady tell me that everything she knew about nature and animals she learned from the Mother West Wind stories of Thornton W. Burgess.  That surprised me and made me look at them more closely.  There's even a Thornton W. Burgess Society at his home in Sandwich, Massachusetts with the stated aim of carrying on the pioneering conservation work of this author/naturalist and "to inspire reverence for wildlife and concern for the natural environment."  He wrote over 170 books and 15,000 stories, so there's no way I can do something from each book, but I'll use the reporter's How, When, and Why to take from each of those books.  (Just looked at the Where book on Project Gutenberg and realize I want to own it, too.)  Don't let the anthropomorphism of his characters fool you, they frequently have much to teach us.  Old Mother West Wind was first introduced in 1910 and with her came many of the characters in the later 50 years of books and newspaper stories and also on his radio show.

Today's story is from Mother West Wind "How" Stories which was first published in 1916. By the way, don't confuse Peter Rabbit by Burgess with the Peter Rabbit of Beatrix Potter which was first published in England in 1902.  "Old Mr. Heron Learns Patience" tells Peter Rabbit not only about this water bird, but shows the very differences which may get someone laughed at can also hold the secret to success.









Project Gutenberg currently offers 35 of Burgess's books.  Wikipedia lists the many Burgess works and also tells about him.  You don't have to stand in one spot, but if you are patient like Mr. Heron, my next Burgess story will be worth waiting to read.
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This is part of a series of bi-weekly posting of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories. 

Currently I'm involved in projects taking me out of my usual work of sharing stories with an audience.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  This fall I expect to return to my normal monthly posting of a research project here.  Depending on response, I will decide at that time if "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my monthly postings. 



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