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Night Watch: Guardian of the Bridge

Um, hello. We heard people were wondering who was holding down the fort while all the staff is gone from the museum during the Covid-19 shutdown. That'd be me. Officer Hootie. My real name is Asio Otus (my friends call me Hootie), and my real job (and title) is Guardian of the Bridge. Like many in my family before me, I take my guardian duties quite seriously. You'll usually find me outside the museum, atop the fishing vessel Shenandoah. But for now, they've asked me keep an eye on the inside of the museum, while everyone has cleared out to STAY HOME. Like that Cowboy everyone is talking about, my director asked me share a little bit about what happens around here when everyone is gone. I said that'd be a real mystery to me as I've always perched outside with a clear view of the walking path, schoolhouse, and sassy crows who think they own the place. But I said I'd give it a try.

This is me in my first selfie.

These camera thingys are not easy for an owl to hold, so I enlisted the help of my friend Elsie. She's very photogenic and, like me, is not afraid of anything.

On my first night of duty--we owls are nocturnal which means we're awake at night and sleep during the day--I discovered that everyone in the permanent gallery was nocturnal too. The racing roosters wake up, the round rocks begin to roll, the Skansie brothers haul fish and hammer boats, and even the Narrows Bridge parts begin to writhe and sway. Talk about creepy. To keep everyone calmed down, Elsie and I made up a new game called "Freeze and Find." We freeze, and you find. We thought you'd like to try it, so I hid and Elsie took the pictures. Look closely. Can you find me in each of the pictures below?

The arrival of automobiles out here on the Peninsula appears to be a big deal. Before that, as my great-grand parents told me, people traveled by boat, horse-drawn carriage, and even their own feet. Imagine not being able to fly. I don't know how they did it.

There's my friend Elsie Claussen. She didn't want me to show her picture, but I tricked her pretty good here, huh? She's an amazing, fearless person who was the first female steamboat captain in the area. She drove her boat all over Puget Sound, ferrying goods and passengers all over the place. The gentlemen in the oval frame are the Skansie Brothers-- Peter, Joe, Mitchell, and Andrew. Even though they are all dressed up in suits here, they still smell like fish and boat tar.

Sometimes people can't see you if you freeze and look like you know what you're doing. See what I mean? You didn't see me right away did you? Your eyes were glued to the Peninsula Loggers, weren't they? The Loggers were the local baseball team in the 1930s.

Seems like farming would be a good skill to have right about now, while you're all stuck at home. While I much prefer to eat rodents and moths, Elsie says you can make your own butter with a churn like the glass jar in the center of this picture. Just put some heavy cream in a jar, screw on the lid, and shake it till it thickens into golden goodness. I'm not much of a bread lover, but Elsie says she could live on fresh churned butter slathered on home baked bread.

Hmmm, something smells fishy. I know, you can barely find me here. While I am drawn to Novakovich's meat market--every owl is--if you look in the tangled web of Gig Harbor's fishing fleet, you just might find a long-eared owl.

Lots of people on the Peninsula grew berries, raised chickens for meat and eggs, planted apple orchards and pressed the apples into cider. For those who didn't have their own boats, Elsie would pick them up in her steamer and take them to the buyers at Day Island. She says it was always a race to get the goods to market. I hid really well in this one, didn't I?

Well, friends, the sun is rising and we're all settling in for our daytime naps. Since I'm kinda getting the hang of this new job, next time, I'll take you on a tour of my favorite museum things. The director says I'm supposed to call them "art-o-facts" but to me they are just "people things."

The lights have come on, and I'm back at my post. Good-day!

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