Darcy Sime of Alden shares this photo of a chestnut-sided warbler.
Darcy Sime of Alden shares this photo of a chestnut-sided warbler.
I was following my hood ornament in North Dakota when I saw large birds on a golf course. It "goose" without saying that they were Canada geese.

On the Beverly Hillbillies, a golf course was called a golf pasture.

Golden-slippered snowy egrets flew overhead. Watching birds moves me from coach to first class, even when behind the wheel of a car.

I found myself singing, "When whippoorwills call and evening is nigh, I hurry to my Blue Heaven. A turn to the right, a little white light, will lead me to my Blue Heaven."

I was pleased to be headed to a Blue Heaven in Carrington, N.D., where I would marvel at the avian delights of the potholes and prairies.

Coyotes versus foxes

Stacy Adolf-Whipp is a wildlife refuge specialist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service at Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota. As we watched a red fox run, Stacy said that part of her job is to make sure that area produces ducks. She added the fox, skunk and raccoon could cause problems in that endeavor. She would rather see a coyote. Her reasoning is that the coyotes drive the foxes from an area and that coyotes are lesser predators of ducks than are foxes.

Echoes from Loafers' Club

"I go to a yoga class each week."

"What day?"

"Some weeks it's Monday, sometimes Wednesday, and other weeks the class is on Thursday. The secret is to be flexible."

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: It's nice to be busy. A busy person doesn't have time to judge anyone else.

Talking baseball

What has 18 legs and catches flies?

A baseball team.

Sorry. On with the story. The fellow sitting next to me complained bitterly about the umpire.

I don't complain much about umpires. I used to be one.

The fellow nearby threw his hands up after a pitch was called a strike and asked if I thought the umpire was terrible at calling balls and strikes.

I replied that I wasn't a good one to ask. I couldn't tell if a pitch was a ball or a strike when I was playing.

Jack Brush of New Ulm asked one of his coworkers, "What do you do with your dog while you're umping?"

The man replied, "What dog?"

Jack responded, "Your seeing-eye dog."

Cafe chronicles

I stopped to have a bowl of gruel and some hardtack. It was a homey eatery where the eggs were fresh. They'd just been fried yesterday.

I was met with a smile and a question, "When Barbie and Ken go to a fancy restaurant, who parks their car?"

Before I had a chance to offer an answer, I was told it was "Valet of the dolls."

"What would you like to eat?" asked the waitress of a friend seated in a cafe where nothing was fresher than the waitresses.

"Anything with gravy on it," came the reply. "No hurry. I have the time to wait. I quit fixing up those old tractors."


"Because I didn't know how."

Older than dirt's father

I stopped to visit him. His life had been shrunk to a small room with few remaining possessions. He'd stayed in the small town he'd been born in because "somebody had to."

He laughed when I told him that getting old was like frying bacon in the nude. You know it's going to hurt, but you're not sure where.

I thought of the writer Temple Grandin, who said this about aging, "I used to be able to able to stand in a forklift truck loading dock at the feed yard and I could jump up on the ramp. Gosh, there is no way I could do that now. But one of the things that getting older does give you is wisdom and a perspective that you didn't have before because you've been to a lot of places and you've seen a lot of things. That's why, in a lot of societies, they look up to their elders. In elephant society, younger elephants look up to the matriarchs. Why? Because they know where to find the water from 50 years ago."

There's a call for you from an Audi

My brother-in-law, Reid Nelson of Sheboygan, Wis., caved and purchased his first cellphone. He called his mother on her birthday and after wishing her a euphoric natal day, told her that he was calling while driving.

His mother scolded him for such a hazardous activity.

He tried to calm her by saying that he shouldn't have been driving 90 miles per hour either.

We think he was kidding. We hope the same.

Did you know?

Most people are 50 to 65 percent water, which is roughly 40 quarts.

The average life of a major league baseball is seven pitches.

A ruby-throated hummingbird moves at 20 to 30 miles per hour in regular flight propelled by 60 to 80 wingbeats per second.

Nature notes

I planted a serviceberry in my yard. I like the edible berries. Wildlife loves them. It's called serviceberry because early settlers used the tree's spring flowers for burial services when the ground thawed enough to allow them to bury loved ones who had died during the winter. It's also called Juneberry.


Dale Waltz of Rochester wondered why there are so many ticks this year. There are so many I can hear them ticking.

Our housing locations often bring people and ticks together. An increase in deer means that when the deer travel, they take ticks with them. Dry years are tough on tick populations.

Dale asked why spiders are in homes in the spring. Last fall, spiders took refuge in warm homes where there were insects to eat. The spiders we see this spring could have been hiding all winter. Spiders hunker down in closets, attics, basements or other secluded areas. Many spiders hatch in the spring.

The mother may carry her young around on her back or build a protective nursery web until the spiderlings establish their own webs. The elimination of household pests such as flies, ants, beetles and gnats will lower spider numbers.

Spiders can be eliminated by simple, non-chemical means. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove spiders and cobwebs. Seal cracks in the foundation and gaps in windows or doorways to deny spiders entrance.

Spiders thrive in dark, cluttered places, so keep debris and woodpiles away from the house.

Spiders aren't bad houseguests. They're trying to make your house a no-fly zone.

We outweigh spiders many times and we're much more likely to behave violently towards them than they are to us. It should be the spider who is creeped out by us, not the other way around.

Meeting adjourned

Karen Berg of Fountain sent this quote from Frederick William Faber, "Many a friendship - long, loyal and self-sacrificing -rested at first upon no thicker a foundation than a kind word."

Thanks for stopping by

"The problem in my life and other people's lives is not the absence of knowing what to do, but the absence of doing it." - Peter Drucker

"The appearance of a familiar bird immediately awakens a train of forgotten associations." - Louis J. Halle


© Al Batt 2013