Automata Wanderings


This morning, my wife asked if I’d be interested in an adventurous road trip. I asked for the destination, but she told me that “not knowing” was part of the adventure. After a moment’s hesitation, I said, "Sure, it sounds like fun" and off we went. She drove a route which was unknown to me, for a little over an hour, when we rounded a corner and an ancient fairground came into view. 
A faded banner, which was probably as old as the fairgrounds, declared that a woodcarver’s show was taking place inside the largest building on the grounds. We paid the modest entrance fee and wandered through isles of skill and creativity, with much awe and wonder. Much to my delight we came upon a booth that featured carved wooden toys, including a few whirligigs and/or simple automata.

I purchased the “Bear Playing a Piano.” It’s creator, an elderly man with sparkling eyes, told me that the bear could play any tune I could imagine, if I swung the ball at the proper speed and used my imagination. A short video of this well-trained wooden bear can be seen here.

I’d love to hear about the automata wanderings of my friends gathered here, so please take a moment to tell of a time you’ve found an unexpected automata in the wild.