Darcy Sime of Alden shared this photo of a rough-legged hawk.
Darcy Sime of Alden shared this photo of a rough-legged hawk.
I heard a storyteller tell an ancient tale of the Iroquois people. A ceremony took place at the solstice and they played the game in which six small stones, painted black on one side and white on the other, were put into a bowl. The wooden bowl was decorated with four clan symbols - the bear, wolf, turtle and deer. To play the game, a player hit the bowl against the ground. If five of the six stones turned up the same color, the player scored a point and took another turn. The first player to reach 10 points won the game.

Long ago, Sky Woman looked down on the Earth and wasn't happy with what she saw. She said, "Life on Earth must end."

Sky Woman's twin grandsons were Good Mind, the benefactor of the Iroquois who created many things to help the people, and Bad Mind, who created many obstacles for humankind.

Good Mind said, "Grandmother, is there no way I can prevent this from happening?"

She said to him, "I will give you this. You and I will play the bowl game and the one who wins will decide whether or not life will continue."

The Good Mind went to the chickadees. He said to them, "My friends, I want you to help me." He asked the tiny birds to lend him six of their heads to put into the bowl.

The chickadees replied, "Of course, you may borrow our heads, which are black on one side and white on the other, put them in the bowl, and we will do what we can."

When the Good Mind hit the bowl on the ground, the chickadees flew up, their heads looking like little black and white stones. They flew about, singing. They landed in the bowl, all six of them the same color. A perfect score.

The Good Mind won the bowl game and life on Earth continues. And to this day, in the middle of the coldest winter, the chickadees sing and celebrate the continuance of life.

Seasonal shenanigans

A caller asked, "Is that bird supposed be here?"

It was OK with me.

It was a brown creeper. It resembled moving bark.

Inspired by the caller, I went outside to graze on the beauty of birds. Crows called, likely reporting my presence. Silence is not a crow's strong suit.

"All is divine," said Thoreau, upon hearing a wood thrush. I feel the same when hearing the sounds of any bird.

I trod through snow deeper than my boots. I love walking and watching.

If you're feeling bitter, look at a critter.

John Muir wrote, "In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."

It was well below zero with strong winds. Snow moved. An elegant bald eagle was carried upon the wind whether it wanted to be or not.

We have four to six seasons in Minnesota. Or is it 46 seasons?

Echoes from Loafers' Club

"You're just wasting your time."

"How am I doing that?"

"By sitting here."

"What should I be doing?"

"If I knew, I'd tell you."

"You'd just be wasting my time."

I've learned

Maturity is having no bubble wrap.

Flattery is like chewing tobacco. It's better if you don't swallow it.

Grandchildren give us an opportunity to learn from the future.

The news from Hartland

The Eat Around It Cafe serves ice cream at room temperature to prevent brain freeze.

Carl of Carl's Car Wash and Movie Theater says that the theater may be dark, but please eat your own popcorn.

The Hartland Board of Tourism and Corn states that beef cattle have a steak in the economy.

Riding is like walking

My mother never heard the song "Ballad of the Devil's Backbone Tavern" by Todd Snider. She would have enjoyed it. Partial lyrics are, "I say life's too short to worry. Life's too long to wait. Too short not to love everybody. Life's too long to hate."

That part of the song could have been her credo.

One day, our car broke down on the gravel road. We had cars that tended to grow weary.

In those dark days before the advent of the cellphone, we couldn't call in the cavalry to come to the rescue.

I jumped from the car, intending to walk home to find Father, a truck or a tractor.

Mom said she'd join me and ride shanks' pony home.

That meant that she was going to use her legs as a means of transport and walk. Shanks' pony (or nag or mare) derives from the name of the lower part of the leg between the knee and ankle, the shank. It's more often referred to as the shin or tibia.

Gambling with lutefisk

Beaver Lake Bob Hanson winters in Albert Lea. Why would anyone winter in Minnesota? I don't know, but Albert Lea is south of Beaver Lake. I mentioned to Bob that I had been telling stories at the Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen. Bob said that he and his wife were traveling in that area once when they decided to stop at the casino and eat. Bob said that the place was packed. There was a lutefisk feed being held in the casino.

Girls' basketball is ladylike

I watched three girls' basketball games in one day. The young ladies were amazing. They played hard. I yelled positive encouragements. I tried to be as effervescent as if I ever wasn't.

Andy Dyrdal of Albert Lea related a tale of how he and his wife first became a couple.

Andy told me that he'd had his eye on her, but she was dating another. One night, she and her date attended a high school basketball game. It was a hard-fought contest and she cheered enthusiastically, much to the chagrin of her boyfriend.

He grumbled that she should act more ladylike.

She dumped him for Andy and their marriage lasted more than 60 years before her death.

As I watched the three games, I realized that the excellent athletes on the floor were wonderfully ladylike.

I responded by squealing in a gentlemanly manner.

Customer comments

Who says there is no such thing as a free lunch? My cousin Jackie Muller of Whittemore told me of her friends who invited another couple out to lunch. They took them to the local John Deere dealer's appreciation days.

Mark Sorenson, who lives along Geneva Lake, worked in Green Bay. There he met a new father who was hoping his son's first words would not be "Mama" or "Dada," but rather, "The Vikings suck."

Did you know?

Noah's dogs went, "Ark, ark, ark."

The average American eats 225 pounds of meat per year.

Yakutat, Alaska, is the largest U.S. city in area. Yakutat includes 9,463 square miles of water, land, glaciers, and ice fields. It's larger than the state of New Hampshire. It displaced Sitka, Alaska (4,812 square miles), which had supplanted Juneau (2,874) as the largest city. Jacksonville, Fla., is the largest city in the lower 48 states at 747 square miles.

Nature lessons

Turkeys were domesticated by Native Americans centuries before the arrival of Europeans. Both their meat and feathers were prized.

Our brain weighs 1.9 percent on average of our body weight. Ravens and crows have brains that make up 1.4 percent of their body weight.

A groundhog was once commonly called a "pasture pup" in the east.

Harlan Lutteke of Alden asked, "Do opossums carry rabies?" Opossums are highly resistant to rabies. A rabid opossum is a rarity.

Meeting adjourned

Do you wonder if you make a difference? If you growled at somebody today, you made a difference. If you smiled at someone today, you made a difference. Be kind.

Thanks for stopping by

"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." ― Roald Dahl

"In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy." -Albert Clarke

DO GOOD.

© Al Batt 2014