"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

There be Owls, and Books, there

Reflecting the county courthouse
How many owls can you count?
If you enter Burrowing Owl Bookstore in Canyon, Texas, I bet you'll lose count.
Not live ones (that's against the law), but models and stuffed toy types.
Why do I know? Because that's the bookstore of my daughter and son-in-law, Dallas and Todd Bell, which just celebrated its second anniversary in business.
With more than 21,000 new and used books on the shelves, it's the only independent bookstore in the Texas Panhandle, and probably the only one between Oklahoma City and Albuquerque and Santa Fe, 
So yes, I'm proud and bragging. 
Lots of local authors, and owls
Owls? I lost count too, and it changes, but not counting the signs, I'd estimate about 40 on my last trip this month, scattered throughout the store.
It's located on the east side of the square across from the stately Randall County county courthouse, about 10 miles south of Amarillo. The courthouse is vacant, after refurbishing funds ran out, but the exterior is in great shape, and every hour the bells chime from the clock tower.
The door is usually open, because Dallas says they get more traffic that way. When I was there Saturday morning,  people of all ages came in, buying books, asking about books, talking, browsing, even reading to their children.
Step inside and you'll find new books and stuff up front, and then used books all the way to the back where the children's section is--fiction on one side, non-fiction on the other. Those wooden bookshelves?--all build by Todd.
The first things you see will be the regional books, new and used, in cooperation with West Texas A & M University's Center for the Study of the American West.New local authors and books and displays of gifts and stuff are next.
Wardrobe entry to children's, plus an owl
In the children's section, you can walk through a wardrobe (also built by Todd), and find seating, toys and, obviously books. This is where "Granny Gray," one of Dallas' employees, comes to read to the children every week. The shop has also hosted local authors and poetry readings.
The square is no longer just the home of antique shops, victim to the strip and Walmart. Canyon bills it as the "Dining District," and there's an Asian restaurant next to the book shop, a Mexican restaurant, a new bar and grill, and a hip 1950's themed soda fountain and cafe, as well as an independent coffee shop, all walkable. The newspaper, the offices of the Palo Duro Canyon  "Texas" musical, a barber shop and other offices are also there.
One of the neatest things in the store are the "Wrapped Books." Dallas and some  employees put duplicate books  in brown wrapping paper. Then her employee Emily Hinds, an English major at West Texas, copies the first line of the book, and draws a simple image on the front. They sell for $6.50 and are in constant demand. I bought one for Susan, and she won't unwrap it, keeping it on a shelf as a work of art.
Dallas actively promotes the shop on social media, has eight employees, including occasional help from her three children who are also super active in school, my grandchildren Erin, Abby and Max. The store is closed Sundays, and early Wednesday for church.
Independent bookstores are coming back, but they are a labor of love and lots of commitment. I don't buy from A...(the name which should not be spoken for books), unless not available from independents. We're fortunate to have four good ones here. I do my best to buy my books at Edmond Best of Books since it is close, but also at Full Circle Books (terrific poetry section), and a few at Commonplace Books. Literati is new  in Paseo. I do buy used art books elsewhere.
You should too. Go browse, discover, touch, read--you can't do that on line.
Owls? More photos.
Children's section

Burrowing Owls and old books

Behind checkout, and yes, my watercolor of Palo Duro's "Lighthouse"

Seasonal owl

Genre Sign
Up to date owl

The door is open

Books, and owls
An owl's eye view
A year ago, Erin, Max, Abby and granddad at Burrowing Owl

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