Darcy Sime of Alden shared this photo of a leucistic wild turkey.
Darcy Sime of Alden shared this photo of a leucistic wild turkey.
Sometimes, our weather is like a bad airport where the passengers never find their bags. Our weather sometimes has trouble finding its season.

The wind refused to rest. Gordon Lightfoot was somewhere singing, "That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed, when the 'Gales of November' came early" from his classic song, "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald. "

It was a day of that fifth season - winfalsprisum - that provides a bit of the other four seasons in just 24 hours.

There were birds, hidden from the wind by the trees and building. There were birds, but they were having cows. Blue jays, downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches and juncos had found a screech owl in a broken tree in our backyard.

The jays and the chickadees where the loudest. The chickadees issued long series of "dees," indicating that the chickadees found the screech owl to be a threat. The white-breasted nuthatch was the most aggressive in checking out the cavity to get a good look at the owl.

The behavior of birds never ceases to fascinate me. Each bird holds a thousand secrets.

Andy Rooney said

"All birds look like sparrows to me. There are big sparrows, small sparrows and gaily-colored sparrows. But they all look like sparrows. Last summer I realized this was a know-nothing attitude, so I bought two bird books. They were filled with every conceivable kind of sparrow."

Echoes From the Loafers' Club Meeting

"Good morning."


"Why the long face?"

"My short one is in the laundry."

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: he who hesitates isn't at a stop sign.

I've learned

Everyone is at a difficult age.

Parents of great scholars or athletes are great believers in heredity.

No two showers are alike.

The headlines from Hartland

Football team produces a no-hitter.

Choke 'n Chew Cafe cook arrested on two counts of attempted burger.

The Witness Protection Bar, where nobody knows your name, opens.

Cafe chronicles

The poet, Thomas Hood, wrote, "No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, no fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, November!"

I added, "no food." I'd been driving since 3 a.m. and I was hollow.

I drove into a town filled with churches and beer joints. I stopped at one of those cafes where they know you by name and by order. I'd passed the pepper. I did it well.

A man, who had lived in that city from little on up, occupied himself with biting a chunk out of strong coffee. "When a spoon stands straight upright in the middle of the cup, the coffee is just strong enough," he said. "If you have to shake the cup in order to get the coffee out of it then it's perfect."

Another fellow related the cautionary tale of his neighbor who toppled from a stepladder while he was cleaning leaves from gutters and fell through the picture window of his house. The homeowner was injured, but the window had no pane.

It was a fine eatery. If I'd been hungrier than I should have been, they'd have given me a bowl of alphabet soup, all in capital letters.

We all hoped for a nice winter. In the words of Emily Dickinson, "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all."

Emily pretty much summed it up for all of us.


When you visit Hawaii, greeters drape a lei around your neck. How should visitors be greeted in your neighborhood?

Would Lassie have been able to find Waldo?

Minnesota has a state muffin. If yours had a state sandwich, what should it be?

School daze

Back when some families were so large, the houses they lived in had stretch marks. Back when every other person did a Yogi Bear impression and men smacked their tavern bellies proudly and bragged that it was all paid for. Back then, my rubber band pistol, which I'd fashioned from a clothespin, was confiscated by my arithmetic teacher because it was a weapon of math disruption.

The World Series

I rooted in vain for the St. Louis Cardinals to defeat the Boston Red Sox. I grew up listening to the Cardinals on 1120 on the AM dial KMOX, the voice of St. Louis. It was a 50,000-watt signal that found its way to my transistor radio, 482 road miles away. It brought me Hall of Fame announcers Joe Garagiola, Jack Buck and Harry Caray, who brought the game to life.

Did you know?

Glabella is the smooth area between the eyebrows just above the nose.

According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 9 percent of people would drive naked.

Only 3.9 percent of men in the United States are 6 feet, 2 inches or taller.

Nature notes

"Why do we have robins here during the winter?"

It might be that your robins flew south and were replaced by those that migrated south to your area for the winter. You might have Canadian robins wintering in your yard. They are bigger than our summer robins. Some researchers say there are robins that migrate and those that do not.

Robins overwinter in ravines and wooded areas where there is an open water source. They feed on the fruit of buckthorn, crabapple, cherry, mountain ash, hackberry, sumac, hawthorn, rose hips, and more during the winter.

When I accompany my wife grocery shopping, my job is to stay by the shopping cart. I've learned it is always a good idea to get a cart.

There are no shopping carts for birds, but it's not a bad idea for a robin to stay near the food. With food, it can take cold.

Migration is a perilous journey, a regular robin roulette.

Nature lessons

A friend, John Acorn of Edmonton, who did a TV show called "The Nature Nut" for years, showed me a photo of a red-necked grebe nesting on a shopping cart that had found its way into water.

Flamingos are pink because they eat carotene-containing brine shrimps or blue-green algae.

Northern gannets make incredible plunges as deep as 70 feet under water after a fish.

Tear-feeding moths and butterflies exist in Africa, Asia and South America. They feed mainly on the tears of large animals such as deer, antelope and crocodiles, which cannot readily brush them away.

Madagascan moths have been observed drinking the tears of sleeping magpie robins.

Long-nosed bats are the main pollinators of century plants (agave), and the tequila is obtained through distillation of juices from agaves. The bat/plant association is so strong that the disappearance of one would threaten the survival of the other.

Bumblebees foraging in flowers for nectar are like salesmen traveling between towns; they seek the optimal route to minimize their travel costs. Mathematicians call this the "traveling salesman problem," in which scientists try to calculate the shortest possible route given a theoretical arrangement of cities.

In March 1904, an estimated 750,000 Lapland Longspurs died in Nobles County in Minnesota from undetermined causes.

Meeting adjourned

"Kindly words, sympathizing attentions, watchfulness against wounding men's sensitiveness - these cost very little, but they are priceless in their value." - F.W. Robertson

Thanks for stopping by

"A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation." - Adlai Stevenson

"There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self." - Aldous Huxley


© Al Batt 2013