Virginia creeper winds its way up a tree limb.
Virginia creeper winds its way up a tree limb.
I looked up to see one Canada goose separate from the flock. It had likely become distracted while texting. I watched as two pheasants fought on the roadside. They were females in hen-to-hen combat. I saw songbirds feeding on the berries produced by small trees.

Bird friendly plants are like planting bird feeders - feeders that provide not only food, but refuge as well.

I heard a crow calling "crow" and spotted three crows standing on a dead deer in the road ditch. It looked as if they were waiting for another crow to show up with a deer opener.

A friend said, "Sure, I like nature. I watch it on The Weather Channel."

In fact, Americans cherish nature and wildlife. A recent Opinion Research Corporation poll for Kellert and DJ Case found that one in five American adults characterized nature, wildlife and the outdoors as their most enjoyable interests, and an additional 37 percent described nature, wildlife and the outdoors as among their more enjoyable interests.

Thirty-one percent of American adults said they get outdoors daily to see and experience nature and an additional 29 percent indicated they take time to get outdoors on a weekly basis.

Maggie loves you

Judy Boyd of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, told me her aunt had a pet black-billed magpie, named Maggie, that she had taught to say, "I love you."

One day, Judy's father thought it would be funny if he taught the bird to swear. While Judy's aunt was gone from home, the man sat down by the magpie and began to cuss. He started out with some minor profanity. For each expletive, Maggie responded with, "I love you."

The man resorted to harsher words in a louder voice. To each expletive, the bird replied, "I love you."

Judy's father gave up trying to teach Maggie to cuss. Maybe that's why the bird loved him.

Customer comments

Cathy Johnson of Peterson writes, "I had a conversation with my 3-year-old grandson, Eli. He asked me, 'Grandma, why don't you have a cat?'

"I explained that I had a few reasons, but the main one was that cats eat birds and I like birds.

"His answer was 'Well, birds eat worms, and I like worms.'"

Taking a life-bird out for lunch

Judy Boyd and Dorothy Hazlett, both of Red Deer, Alberta, spotted a gray-crowned rosy-finch some years ago. It was a lifer for both women, the first of its species that either had seen. The finch landed in the middle of the road and the women got out of the car to set up a spotting scope. While they were doing that, a Cooper's hawk flew down and took the finch out for lunch. It might have been a life-bird for the hawk, too.

From the Kingfisher

The publication of the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis offered this quiz.

Match this description to the bird. 1) Brown back, strong breast spots, 2) Brown back, pale breast spots, buffy throat, 3) Brown tail, eye ring, 4) Gray-brown back, eye ring, buffy throat, 5) Gray-brown back, weak eye ring.

A) Veery, B) Gray-cheeked Thrush, C) Wood Thrush, D) Swainson's Thrush, E) Hermit Thrush.

Answers: 1. C, 2. A, 3. E, 4. D, 5. B

Echoes from the Loafers' Club Meeting

"I went to the eye doctor. He said that I need glasses."

"He could tell that from an eye test?"

"No, he based it on the fact that I thought I was in the dentist's office."

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors - both named Bruce - who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: I spoke at a vendor's show and found myself the owner of several new pens bearing advertising. I remember when I had to wait for school to start to get a new pen.

I've learned

1. I love Halloween because it turns the cobwebs in the corners of my office into decorations.

2. You know you're getting older when you start saying your bedtime prayers at noon so you won't fall asleep before you finish them.

3. You're getting older if you think instant messaging is passing notes in class.

The news from Hartland

Fuel's Paradise offers a premium gas list to its discriminating customers.

Stand by for braking news from Jack Tupp's Auto Repair Shop.

PETA Cattle Ranch uses curling irons instead of branding irons.

Ask Al

"Why are businesses more likely to hear from unhappy customers than happy ones?"

Because the happy ones are at home clapping their hands and singing, "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands."

"Did you ever intercept a pass during a football game?"

Once. It was the last game I ever refereed.

"Why do wives correct their husbands so often?"

Because their husbands are wrong so often.

Scenes from a car

Family car trips involve family and a car. There is usually too much of one and an excess of the other. Conversations such as this one are repeated.

"Are we there yet?"

"Is the car still moving? If it is, that means we're not there yet."

"How many more towns?"

"Ask your mother."

Cafe chronicles

Sue Stadelman lives in Shawano, Wis. Her maiden name was True. Her brother married a woman named Sue. Occasionally her brother runs into someone in the course of his employment who asks him if he ever knew Sue True. He replies, "Yes. She used to be my sister. Now she's my wife."

The language

When people ask me how I am, I tend to reply, "Swell."

A former schoolmate, Georgia Dinneen of New Richland, responds in similar fashion, but adds, "If I were any sweller, I'd be swollen."

A traveling man

I drove into Oshkosh, Wis., a city with numerous roundabouts. They were slightly reminiscent of the roundabout that foiled the Griswold family in National Lampoon's European Vacation. I traveled in the best of circles. I didn't get lost in the fine city of Oshkosh, but I did become dizzy.

Bug zombies

My wife found her workplace invaded by boxelder bugs. Some of the bugs assumed positions on the floor. Each was on its back with its legs crossed as if it were in a casket. There they remained unmoving for a long time. She swept up the dead insects and placed them into a wastebasket. It wasn't long before the dead boxelder bugs began crawling out of the dustbin. They were boxelder bug zombies.

The windshield fairy

A Hartland resident had a cracked car windshield. She called a windshield replacement company that agreed to send a van to her residence. The windshield would be replaced right there on the street in front of her house. The van arrived and the new windshield was installed - in a neighbor's car parked nearby.

Meeting adjourned

"The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being." - The Dalai Lama

Thanks for stopping by

"There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will." - Epictetus

"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say,' Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'" - Martin Luther King Jr.


©Al Batt 2012